Witkowsky State Wildlife Area ~ A JDCF Partner Preserve

Thanks to a public/private partnership between JDCF, the Illinois DNR, and the volunteer group, the Friends of Witkowsky, 10 miles of new hiking trails have been opened to the public at the Witkowsky State Wildlife Area, a 1,000+ acre natural area located 7 miles north of Hanover, IL  on Blackjack Road not far from Chestnut Mountain Resort. A trail map can be downloaded here: Witkowsky SWA Trail Map 2019.

The project has taken six years and thousands of volunteer hours and the results are amazing.  Mowed trails take visitors through prairies, into deep forests with unique rock outcroppings, over shallow streams, and to a lookout with a stunning view of the surrounding countryside.  There are even remnants of the Hanover Earth Station to be explored.  The Witkowsky State Wildlife Area is open daily dawn to dusk.  The trails are closed to hikers during firearms hunting seasons. Hunting season dates are posted at the kiosks near the parking areas and also on the IDNR website found here.

This project was made possible through thousands of volunteer hours from JDCF’s Friends of Witkowsky Trails group led by Brad Petersburg, ongoing support from the Witkowsky family, an Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation amenities grant, and Galena Country Tourism. We also thank the IDNR, planning, maintenance, and scientific staff for their technical and “boots on the ground” assistance through the project.

A grand opening of the trail system has been postponed due to COVID 19 until June 11, 2021.  However, the trails are open as of June 12, 2020 for anyone to enjoy by following the rules to be posted at the parking lot kiosks by July 1, 2020.

Upcoming Events

Gone Herping – A Facebook Live Event

July 9 @ 10:00 am - 10:30 am

JDCF will be Live from the Hurtzville Interpretive Center in Jackson County, Iowa. Our Education & Outreach Manager, Jess Carryer, will be joined by special guest, Tony Vorwald, for a program all about herping! Herping is the act of searching for amphibians and reptiles. Habitat preferences range from dry sand prairies to swampy bottomlands. Studying […] Read More

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Experience Horseshoe Mound ~ A Walking Tour

August 15 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Have you ever wondered what a guided tour of Horseshoe Mound Preserve would be like? Well, wonder no more because we have brought back our popular walking tours with JDCF Education and Outreach Manager, Jess Hepker.  Participants will get the inside scoop on geologic features that can be seen from the top of the mound […] Read More

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Meteors on the Mound

August 15 @ 7:00 pm - 11:00 pm

JDCF and the Friends of Horseshoe Mound invite everyone to Meteors on the Mound for a glimpse of the Perseid meteor shower from atop Horseshoe Mound Preserve.  Horseshoe Mound is the eighth highest point in Jo Daviess County and offers spectacular views of the tristate area from three different vantage points. This is the only […] Read More

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Experience Horseshoe Mound ~ A Walking Tour

September 19 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Have you ever wondered what a guided tour of Horseshoe Mound Preserve would be like? Well, wonder no more because we have brought back our popular walking tours with JDCF Education and Outreach Manager, Jess Hepker.  Participants will get the inside scoop on geologic features that can be seen from the top of the mound […] Read More

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