Date: January 29, 2017
Distance: 11 miles
Weather: Cold and overcast, upper 20's
Three loops form a cloverleaf of crushed limestone trails, with far more interesting topography than one might expect from a Northern Illinois park. Because of the relatively short distance of the trail, we again chose fat bikes to increase the level of difficulty.
The one-way trails are beautifully maintained and well-marked. The terrain is quite hilly, and the climbs rewarded us with sweeping views of Lake Defiance, and streams and wetlands in the area. We stood on the edges of the mostly frozen lake, and listened as the conversation from the other shore floated to us over the wintry silence.
The park has a number of overlooks with viewing platforms and shelters. These, however, afforded little protection from the cold as we huddled over our salami sandwiches and thermoses of hot tea.
The final loop offers an up-close look at the McHenry Dam. This would be a great finale for a day-long hike in warmer weather.