- Natural Features- Johnson-Sauk Trail State Park features a varied terrain, with rolling hills covered with a mix of hardwoods and pines in the south half of the park, and a flatter landscape with wildlife plantings and grasslands making up the northern half of the park.
The park's centerpiece is a 58-acre lake that offers both fishing and boating, as well as nearly two and a half miles of shoreline to explore.
The lake was one of a series of lakes considered for Illinois in 1944. After studying a number of sites, 369 acres of land known as Whiting's Woods were purchased. Actual construction of the lake didn't begin until 1949, and was halted soon after when engineers encountered unfavorable soil conditions. Work didn't get underway again until the summer of 1955, after advanced methods of dam construction were developed.
The park also has Sauk Trail Pond, a scenic 3-acre pond near the park's round barn, that provides fishing opportunities in a more restful setting.
From spring through fall, visitors will find a wide array of both woodland and prairie wildflowers, including bluebells, Dutchman's breeches, trillium, prairie anemone, yarrow, field daisies, vervain and goldenrod.
While fewer than 1,000 natural areas exist in Illinois, one of them is located in Johnson-Sauk Trail State Park. The area contains a population of skunk cabbage, an early bloomer that sometimes blossoms in the snow -- rare for this part of the state.
White-tailed deer, raccoons, squirrel, opossum and rabbits are among the myriad wildlife found in the park, while birders have ample opportunities to catch sight of chickadees, nuthatches, goldfinches and hundreds of other avian visitors.
Camping- The Chief Keokuk Campground features 71 pads with electrical hook-ups for trailers (Class A camping), plus 25 tent sites (Class C camping). There is a shower building on site. A sanitary dump station is near the camping area. In addition, "Blackhawk" area on Lakeshore Loop Road is available for youth group camping.
Marina- The seasonal Marina offers rental boats, sell fishing bait and supplies, food and beverage, souvenirs and camping supplies. The upper deck of the Marina offers a full menu restaurant.
Ryan's Round Barn- One of the most unique features of Johnson-Sauk Trail State Park is the large, round barn built in 1910 and located near the park entrance. One of the largest round barns in the country, the architectural marvel stands more than 80 feet high and is 85 feet in diameter.The barn has a full-size16-foot wide silo inside. Round barns originally were built by religious groups because they "left no corners in which the devil could hide." Today, the barn is available to be toured every other Saturday afternoon, May through October by Friends of Johnson's Park Foundation. For more information and barn tour schedule, contact the park office.
Hunting Times have changed since market hunters poured into the area to take advantage of the wildlife hunting opportunities. Game populations might not be as large as they were a century ago, but hunting still is a popular activity at the park. Johnson-Sauk Trail is one of the Department of Natural Resources popular controlled hunting sites, with pheasant being released daily during the statewide hunting season (closed Mondays and Tuesdays). A fee is charged. The park also allows hunters to pursue deer with a bow and arrow, plus dove and squirrel with shotgun only. Spring Turkey hunting is by permit only.
Fishing- The 58-acre lake has a maximum depth of 21 feet and features excellent populations of largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, channel catfish and bullhead. Numerous fish cribs and attractors have been put into the lake to enhance fishing. In addition, muskie and northern pike have been added to the lake in recent years, providing visitors with an exciting, new fishing opportunity. Fishing is permitted by boat (electric trolling motor only) or from fishing piers and along the shoreline.
Boating- Johnson-Sauk Trail Lake's boat launch is adjacent to the Marina near the dam. Boats also are available for rent at the Marina, May - Sept. Only electric trolling motors are permitted on the lake.
Trails- Johnson-Sauk Trail has 10 to 15 miles of trails, ranging from 1/4 mile to 1 1/2 miles in length, from easy to moderate and taking hikers along the lake or through land ranging from rolling prairie to pine plantations and bottomland hardwood forests, so even the pickiest of hikers should find a trail to his or her liking. If added miles are desired, the trails have been designed to connect so you can link one to another.
Winter Sports- Johnson-Sauk Trail is an all-season park, with summer hiking trails doubling as trails for cross-country skiers and snowmobilers during the winter months when snow accumulation allows. The park's hills also are ideal for sledding and the lake provides an excellent place to go ice fishing or ice skating. Snowmobiling is not allowed until hunting season is closed around the middle of January, and is limited to 4 miles of designated trail.
Johnson Sauk Trail State Park is located in west central Henry County. The park entrance is located on the eastern side of IL Rt. 78 just five miles north of Kewanee or six miles south of I-80 (Exit 33) and Annawan. The entrance is well marked and easy to find.
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