On New Year's Day, two of my friends and myself went out to McNaughton Park in Pekin to try out the Potawatomi Trail. McNaughton Park is located on approximately 700 acres of woodland and meadows. A large portion of this park is within the Land and Water Reserve by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission. There is parking in the park, or at the Dog Training Area on Parkway Drive or on Sheridan Road. You can learn more about the park at the Pekin Park District's Website.
Potawatomi Trail is about 7 miles in the Park and is shown as red on the map below. The orange is for the horse trails, but many of the trails are shared by hikers and horseback riders. We seemed to have a difficult time in areas figuring out exactly where the trail went. A lot of trees are spray painted red, and there are a few signs, but other times it was a complete guess.
We started out in the parking area next to Lake Butterfield and headed south down the hill that is a Seasonal trail. We then went East across the open field and down to the "2 Mile" marker. There, we were not able to cross the creek at this time. There was not a bridge and the creek was too high for us to cross with the type of clothes we had on. We would have definitely gotten wet, so we kept heading East and did the loop around where the foundation marker is and headed back West around Lake Zuercher.
Potawatomi TrailThis was taken between Mile 1 and 2, where the foundation marker is shown. You can see on the right side is the foundation.
We then headed back up to the parking lot where we had one friend leave us. She had broken her foot last year and was still not fully recovered. McNaughton Park is very hilly and was hard on her. If hills are hard on you, I would not recommend this trail, however, its a great training trail if you are working up to some harder hills.
After she left us, we headed Northwest towards the Ameren High Lines Area. This is a very hilly area, the path is very narrow in spots and you have to cross many creeks, some with bridges, and some we had to jump over or find a log to walk across. Once you get to the Ameren High Lines area, its is all open prairie and the view is pretty great (besides the power lines).
Prairie TrailsJust after the Ameren High Lines area.
The area North the High Lines is all wooded and a very beautiful walk. Once you get to the very north end of the trail, there is a totem pole and a very open area with a picnic shelter.
After this, we started heading back West and you pass another shelter area where you can also camp. Parts of the trails back through the Ameren High Lines was very sandy, so wear shoes you can't get sand in easily. Once we got past the Ameren High Lines on the far West side, we decided to head back on the horse trail to the parking lot for the day. This area was an open field and very pretty. By the time we got back to the car, we had 5.5 miles in for the day and it took us about 2 1/2 hours. Below is the same map as above, but with a blue line showing our exact hike.
Our Hike - 5.5 Miles
Some other things you can do in the park:
Geocaching - There are over 30 geocaches hidden in the park and along the trails. I looked for 4 yesterday and found 3. I would recommend bringing an actual GPS. I used my phone and the trees were messing with my cell service.
Geocaching in the Park Dogs are also welcome in the Park. I brought my lab, Drake, and he had a blast! He is still tired today!
You can also mountain bike the trails, fish at the ponds, frisbee golf and camp by permit!
Overall, I was really impressed by this park and plan on going out to it regularly. We went on January 1st, it was about 40 degrees, sunny, and no wind, so with a few layers (which we ended up shedding a layer when we stopped at the car), it was perfect. We started about 10:30 and only saw 1 other couple the entire time we were on the trails! I have been to the park in the middle of the summer and it was packed, so if its a summer month, you may want to start earlier to beat the crowds.
Trail between Marker 1 and 2
I plan on going back again soon and will try some of the southwest side of the park and blog about it again!