Lake Defiance Trail is a 3.8 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near McHenry, Illinois that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 3.8 miles Elevation Gain: 144 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly

cross country skiing


mountain biking

nature trips


bird watching





wild flowers


A multi-use trail system through woods, wetlands around a glacial lake. This is very nice, well maintained trail system of alternating asphalt pavement and crushed limestone, that is one of several hikes in the Moraine Hills State Park near McHenry, Illinois. The trail system can be used by day-hikers, bikers, and (in the winter) cross-country skiers. The park service here does an excellent job of making sure that the bike traffic flows in one direction, minimizing the stress for the day-hiker, The trail winds it way through alternating sections of woodland and wetland as it meanders its way around its namesake, Lake Defiance. The trail offers nice views of the glacial lake and some excellent birding opportunities, as the wetlands and woodlands provide homes for water fowl, kestrels, falcons, red wing balckbirds, orioles, and many others. The park service offers guided hikes and birdwatching on many days, call ahead for a schedule. Water is available through pumps on the hike, and there are concessions at the park station.

2 days ago

This was a very nice hike around the lake. There are a lot of entrances to the path. The path is part paved and part gravel. About halfway around the lake from the Lake Defiance Junction there is a little opening where you can sit right near the water. There are a couple of bathrooms which were pretty clean. It’s about 50% shady and 50% sunny. There was one section near the river road junction where the path was flooded due to the recent rains, it was about mid shin deep with no way around so I ended up walking through it.

Very nice trail with many options on how far you want to hike. Popular with bikes also but the bikers must travel one direction only. This makes it nice to share the trail. The trail is paved and crushed limestone with some rolling hills. Water areas with many birds. We had a family of Sand Hill cranes cross our path with 2 babies.

2 months ago

This is a great trail for people of all ages! I took my kids ages 5 - 13 and they loved it! The well maintained trail is a mix of crushed stone and pavement. It had nice low grade elevation changes through woods and by the lake shore which provided great views especially with all the leaves off the trees in early March. This trail goes to the top of our list of local favorites! Highly recommended!

Beautiful snowy day at Moraine Hills. Trails are snowy and uneven. Lots of ice underfoot but I did not slip. Everyone should see this place in the beauty of winter. I did a 4 mile loop and it was delightful.

11 months ago

One of my favorite trails... combination of gravel and paved trails that are easy to follow and Perfect amount of little hills... Plus Beautiful scenery.

mountain biking
Sun Apr 21 2019

Sun Jul 29 2018

Fun on a bike . The downhills after the climbs are like rollercoaster rides.

Sun Mar 05 2017

Nice park

Fri Mar 25 2016

Really nice state park.

Fri Jul 03 2015

Love this park. Loads to see as you walk. Great place for bikes too!

Wed Oct 29 2014

Nice trail, easy with minimal elevations. Late October hike the leaves are gone, but still some birds and reptiles to see (turtles an garter snakes).

Mon May 28 2012

The grounds are well kept and the hiking is great. My husband proposed to me on Lake Defiance and will always return whenever we visit Illinois. TIP* bring bug spray

Thu Sep 15 2011

Very nice trail. Lots of wildlife and things to see. Also nice that other trails connect to this loop (like the McHenry Dam) so you can turn this run into a longer loop.

3 days ago

10 days ago

11 days ago

12 days ago

13 days ago

15 days ago

19 days ago

22 days ago

recorded Recording - May 03, 03:07 PM

25 days ago

Showing results 1 - 30 of 133