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Illinois State Parks

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Gebhard Woods State Park
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401 Ottawa Street
Morris, Illinois   60450

Phone: 815-942-0796
Nature of the Area
Songbirds, mallards, wood ducks, green herons and great blue herons can be observed as they feed or nest in the park and along the canal banks. Beaver, muskrat, mink, raccoon and an occasional deer also call Gebhard Woods their home. The restored Nettle Creek stone aqueduct that was originally built to carry the canal over Nettle Creek adds not only to the parks beauty but to the rich history of the area. A short hike to the aqueduct, a smidgen of imagination, and one can almost envision a team of mules pulling a canal barge full of goods across this historic structure.

The information center is located near the entrance of the park and is staffed year round. Information on Gebhard Woods, the Illinois & Michigan Canal State Trail, various Illinois state parks, camping permits and state hunting and fishing licenses may be obtained at the center. A full time Interpreter is on staff to provide educational opportunities to park guests and scheduled groups. Guided hikes and park programs are scheduled throughout the year, for specific details contact the information center at (815) 942-0796.
History of the Area
Gebhard Woods State Park was originally purchased from Mrs. William Gebhard by the Grundy County Rod & Gun Club in 1934 for the amount of $1,500.00. A game fish rearing pool was developed on the property by the Rod and Gun club who in turn donated the property to the State of Illinois to be developed and maintained as Gebhard Woods State Park. Members of the Brandon-Morris Civilian Conservation Corps were employed by the Department of the Interior to clear and landscape this newly formed state park. The CCC developed two additional spawning pools for game fish, interior trails, a large shelter of handhewn beams with flagstone flooring, two small log shelters complete with fireplaces, a sheltered resting bench and a large stone fireplace.

Today, hikers, campers, picnickers, and canoeists frequent this 30-acre site, making it one of the state's most popular state parks. Located in Morris, this picturesque park is bordered on the south by the Illinois & Michigan Canal and to the north by Nettle Creek which gently flows along the perimeter and through the park adding to its natural beauty and abundance of wildlife. Stately old trees including walnut, oak, ash, maple, sycamore, hawthorn and cottonwood provide ample shade throughout the park. In the spring, trillium, bluebell, white trout lily, violets, wild ginger, phlox, toothwort and spring beauties are just a sample of the wildflowers that can be enjoyed by park visitors.
Canoeists can travel 15 miles of the canal in open water between Channahon State Park and Gebhard Woods. Paddlers can spend the day enjoying the natural beauty and abundant wildlife as they float between these two parks. The Aux Sable access area located between Channahon State park and Gebhard Woods is home to an original locktender's house, Aux Sable aqueduct and canal Lock #8, a perfect place to land the canoe and have a picnic lunch. Small fishing boats with electric motors are also allowed in the Canal. Gas powered motors are prohibited due to the shallow depth of the canal and the fragile embankments.
There are three fishing ponds available in the park. Bring your fishing gear and try your skill at catching bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish and bullhead. These small ponds provide a great place for the entire family to enjoy a relaxing day casting away the hours. Fishing is also available in the Illinois & Michigan Canal and in Nettle Creek.

Gebhard Woods provides rustic beauty with five shady picnic areas. These areas are complete with picnic tables and grills. A large shelter with electrical service, water fountain and restrooms nicely located near the playground area is available for reservations to host that special outdoor occasion. A slightly smaller shelter near the front of the park complete with electricity and nearby drinking fountain and restroom is available on a first come first serve basis. If time allows, join in a baseball game on the diamond while the smaller children enjoy the playground area. Horseshoe pits are also available near the large shelter.
Gebhard Woods is only a footbridge away from the historic Illinois & Michigan Canal State Trail. This 61 mile trail on the old canal towpath is easy walking and gives access to unparalleled scenic and historic sights. Bicyclists can also take advantage of the groomed towpath to enjoy the natural and manmade wonders. The trail is marked and has various wayside exhibits that describe features of the canal era encountered along the way. Due to the trail's composition, horseback riding isn't allowed.

After a minimum of four inches of snowfall, snowmobilers may travel the 61 miles of marked trail available along the canal. Registration is required, so call ahead to the park office for snowfall and registration information. Cross country skiing is also permitted on the trail.

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From Rte. #47 in Morris, turn west on Jefferson St (Jefferson will turn into Freemont St. a few blocks down). Continue on Freemont St. to Ottawa St, turn left on Ottawa St. and the Park is located approximately a block and a half down on the left hand side.

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Illinois State Parks