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Kishwaukee River Bottoms

Getting There

The Bottoms are made up of several individual conservation areas - Anderson Bend, Distillery, and LIB - all located along the Kishwaukee River west of Belvidere.  An entrance from Distillery Road is located 2.5 miles west of Belvidere on Business Route 20 and then 1.5 miles south on Distillery Road.  This accesses the cane launch, parking area, and both the Distillery and Anderson Bend Conservation Areas.  Click here for a map.

Natural Considerations

These areas lie on the banks of the Kishwaukee River and host flora and fauna typical of a northern Illinois river bottom.  Silver maple, sycamore, and willow trees dominate lowlands adjacent to the river.  These species are adapted to withstand seasonal flooding.  Low areas are dotted with wetlands which provide ideal habitat for aquatic species, including turtles, frogs, and beaver.  Species of birds, including waterfowl and wading birds frequent the marsh.  Warblers utilize the area in the spring to rest and refuel before continuing their journey north.  Out of the floodplain are the oak savannah forests which prefer better draining.  Hardwoods including red and white oak, and hickory trees dominate these ridges.  These areas support a healthy population of cavity nesting song birds due in part to the efforts of a local birding enthusiast who places and monitors a variety of nest boxes.


For thousands of years, the Kishwaukee River was used by the Native Americans to transport goods for trade.  The name Kishwaukee is derived from the Potowatomi word meaning "river of the sycamore".  Potowatomi Indians utilized large sycamore trees found in the valley for dugout canoes.  The river also designates the northern most natural range of the sycamores.

In most recent history, the area was used for agricultural purposes until the 1970's when it was acquired by the Conservation District.

Opportunities for fun

Over 547 acres of wild land exists here and contains very little development, so they opportunity to tune out society and connect with nature is available.  Hikers and skiers can utilize the 7.6 miles of trails which wind through prairies, woodlands, and wetlands.  Canoeing enthusiasts can take advantage of the launch site which provides ease of access to the water.

Activities and Facilities

Hiking trail, cross country skiing, restroom, canoe launch, fishing.

Kiswaukee Bottoms map


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