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.