Middle Fork River -- Penfield, IL (Champaign Co.)

Middle Fork River Forest Preserve is located north of Penfield in Champaign County (Illinois). The area is mostly wooded with prairie located in the south-east part. Small patches can be also found on other trails away from the river. Middle Fork River runs through the park, sought by many fishermen and canoeist. There are also three ponds: one of them has a swimming beach (check with Champaign County Forest Preserve for closings), the other two are used for fishing.
    Many common prairie plants grow here. Shooting stars and wild hyacinths, spiderworts, foxglove beardtongues, gentians, milkweeds, mountain mints, obedience flowers, white indigos, compass plants, cup plants, prairie docks, rosinweeds, purple coneflowers, greay-head coneflowers, goldenrots, and many more. Watch out for poison ivy. Deer is abudant as well as many bird species.

(see photos below).

Basic Info

Area:    1,700 acres (mostly wooded, prairie represents a small portion of the total preserve area)
Access:    Follow 136 (Exit 250 from I-74) through Rantoul and Gifford. Turn north (left) on County Road 22 (2700 E). The entrance is on the left after crossing over the second creek.
Hours:    7am to 6pm or 9pm depending on the time of the year. The park is gated.
Activities: walking, hiking, camping, fishing, bird watching, picnicking, swimming, special events
Trails: Several trails wind through the preserve providing about 7 miles of hiking. Prairieview Trail and Midland Trail provide access to prairies. Other trails loop through the woods or follow the river.
Others: Waterfowl Management Area on the west side of the river offers bird watching. It is closed to public during nesting, i.e. between March and June.
Official Website: Champaign County Forest Preserve District



Prairie in Middle Fork River Forest Preserve (Penfield, IL)
Sunset at a pond at Middle Fork River Forest Preserve (Penfield, IL)
Blooming milkweeds at Middle Fork River Forest Preserve (Penfield, IL)
Sugar Creek. Middle Fork River Forest Preserve (Penfield, IL)
Sunset at Middle Fork River Forest Preserve (Penfield, IL)
Midland Trail through Middle Fork River Forest Preserve (Penfield, IL)