The Park's Present
Because water serves as a welcome mat to birds and animals, wildlife watchers to the area won’t be disappointed. Birders report good viewing, with waterfowl being abundant. Deer, fox, muskrat, woodchuck and beaver inhabit Rock Cut State Park, as do opossum, raccoon and both gray and fox squirrel. Over 100 types of wildflowers offer a showy display each spring and summer, while the hardwood trees dazzle you with their reds and golds every fall.
The trail system at Rock Cut offers opportunities for hiking (40 miles), mountain biking (23 miles), and equestrian (14 miles). Trail users will find updated trail head/information signs at picnic areas and trail access points for trail information and regulations. Only certain trails are designated for mountain biking and equestrian use and are identified by color-coded trail markers. Blue trails are for mountain biking and hiking, yellow trails are for equestrian and hiking, and red trails are restricted to hiking only. Rock Cut does not have horse rentals or stables at the site. Lockwood Park, a facility of the Rockford Park District, has trail ride and horse boarding opportunities available at their facility, which is approximately 10 miles from the park.
Trail activities have been divided into "summer and winter" seasons to provide quality seasonal programs. The "summer program" (mountain biking and equestrian) trails are open April 1-November 30. These regulations for mountain biking and equestrian use will be strictly enforced and violators are subject to fines.
The "winter program" provides for groomed cross-country trails as conditions permit. Cross country skis and snowshoes can be rented through the park concession; for hours and information call 815-885-4740. The groomed trails can also be accessed at the Lions Club Picnic Area. As a courtesy, hikers and those hiking with snowshoes are asked to use other trails that have not been groomed for skiing.
Rock Cut also offers access (at the Pierce Lake spillway) to the Willow Creek Bike Trail and Perryville Path, a paved trail system connecting the local communities of Loves Park and Rockford to Rock Cut State Park.
For those who want to include an overnight stay in their visit to Rock Cut, the campgrounds provide electricity at the site, water hydrants at the beginning of each camping loop, sanitary dump stations, showers, toilets, a boat launch and playground equipment. There are 210 Class A Premium sites and 60 Class B/S Premium sites. There is also a primitive cabin (it has electricity, but does not have water or plumbing facilities). Reservations can be made online at www.reserveamerica.com (the Park Office no longer accepts reservations). From November - April, only electricity is available; there is no access to water or dump station. Equestrian camping is restricted to a site on Hart Road, is only available on a first-come, first-served basis and the Ranger will collect the fee at your site in the evening. Rock Cut is an alcohol-free park and campground, and this rule is strictly enforced.
Fishing and Boating
One of the park’s most popular activities is fishing. Pierce Lake is named for state Rep. William Pierce of Rockford, who served in the legislature from 1951-1966 and who proposed the first land acquisition for the park in 1955. The lake is stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish and channel catfish, as well as bullhead, northern pike, muskellunge and walleye. Any size engine is allowed on Pierce Lake; however, engines over 10 HP can only operate at no wake speed. Pierce Lake has docks and two launching ramps. Olson Lake also offers excellent fishing, with only carry-on watercraft and electric motors allowed.
The hunting program at Rock Cut allows hunters with disabilities an opportunity to participate in an IDNR program for managing the park's deer herd and turkey populations. A satellite location, Rockton Bog located in Rockton, IL offers archery deer hunting during the statewide season. For more information see the online Hunter Fact Sheet.
Knowing that a visit to a state park is more fun when there’s food to be enjoyed, picnic areas are scattered throughout Rock Cut, each complete with tables, outdoor stoves, and pit toilets. For groups up to 50 people, the site has five shelters that may be reserved online at www.reserveamerica.com
The Rock Cut Concession is open seasonal hours at Pierce Lake, with canoe, kayak and boat rentals, as well as a variety of bait available. The Lone Rock Cafe is located by the boat launch area and features wireless Internet, a variety of food items and drinks, including smoothies and blended coffees. For more information and prices, check out their website www.rockcutpark.com or call 815-885-4740.
Several handicapped-accessible features are available at Rock Cut State Park, including two fishing piers with one at Lions Club day use area covered. The park also has paved walkways, accessible toilets, a picnic shelter, and campground area with flush toilets and showers that can be used by visitors with disabilities.
Take to the trails in the winter. A winding system of cross-country ski trails lets you take in the park’s winter beauty. Cross-country skis and snowshoes can be rented through the concession located at the Camp Store. For hours and information call 815-885-4740. There’s more winter fun with ice fishing as a great Rock Cut pastime.
I-90 West to Rockford. Take the Highway 173 Exit. Go West for one-half mile to the Park Entrance. For more information about the Rockford Area, please visit the Rockford Visitors Bureau
Enjoy Your Visit
Please abide by park rules during your visit. Alcoholic beverages are not allowed in the park. Do not pick any flowers, and keep your pet leashed at all times.