Rock Cut State Park

Even though the temperature was not expected to rise above 30 degrees, it was windy, and the sun was hiding, Lizzie and I were in need of an adventure and decided to explore Pierce Lake Trail at Rock Cut State Park.


Rock Cut State Park is located in northern Illinois about an hour and a half from downtown Chicago. There are over 40 miles of hiking trails as well as mountain biking and equestrian trails.


The park isn’t much to look at in the beginning of April, but I bet it’s nice a green in the summer. The lake is pretty and there must be some good fishing spots because we saw quite a few fish heads and bones. Kayaks can be rented from the boathouse.


AllTrails says Pierce Lake Trail is 3.6 miles round trip. It recorded Lizzie and I’s hike at 4.4. I’m not sure which is more accurate. Rock Cut State Park does not list the length of the trails on its website or park map. (I was not impressed with the amount of information available about the state park and its trails, which seems to be common for all Illinois State Parks, besides Starved Rock. I wonder if the lack of information available has to do with Illinois State Parks not having an entrance fee? Indiana State Parks have entrance fees and there is more information available online and the maps are more detailed.)


Pierce Lake is the largest of the two lakes at Rock Cut State Park. The trail that winds around it includes open views of the lake and woods. There are quite a few places where, if it had been above freezing, it would’ve been nice to sit and enjoy a snack or lunch. Instead, Lizzie and I ate our fruit snacks while scurrying around the lake and hid in Addie to eat our peanut butter sandwiches.


Much to our surprise, there were 6 or 7 white Pelicans floating around on the lake. We did not know there were Pelicans in the Midwest.

interstate 90 runs past one side of the park

Overall, I’m glad we got out and got some exercise, but I wouldn’t recommend making a special trip just for Rock Cut State Park unless it is warm and you are looking to both hike and kayak.