The Hennepin Canal State Trail is an ideal destination for a relaxing day of picnicking, hiking, biking, fishing and old fashioned family fun. There are plenty of picnic tables along the 104.5-mile linear park spanning five Illinois counties (Rock Island, Bureau, Henry, Lee and Whiteside).
Constructed from 1892 to 1907, the Hennepin Canal played an important role in U.S. history and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Hennepin was the first American canal built of concrete without stone cut facings. Although the Hennepin enjoyed limited success as a commercial and industrial waterway, its construction involved a number of engineering innovations, and its waterway, locks, aqueducts and adjoining towpath continue to provide a beautiful recreational resource.
The towpath provides 155 miles of hiking/biking fun from the Illinois River to the Rock River, with the feeder canal path to Rock Falls. Segments of the trails are open to horseback riding and snowmobiling in season. Fishing along the Hennepin is outstanding, and the canal is open to boating and canoeing (locks are no longer operational and must be portaged). Campgrounds and day use areas are located all along the canal.
Before exploring the wonders of the Hennepin Canal, stop in at the Visitor Center near Sheffield. Several displays help illustrate the canal's past, including tools used to build and operate it, as well as the natural features of the canal corridor.