While many see winter as a time to stay inside and avoid the cold at all costs, it’s a much different story for snowmobile enthusiasts.
There’s nothing like feeling the rush of cold air on your face as you rev your engine, twisting and winding through the backwoods and kicking up a mountain of powder in your wake.
Riding the Hennepin Canal Trail in Colona is one of the most exciting winter activities in Henry County. At 91 miles on the towpath, the Hennepin Canal Trail is the longest snowmobile trail in the state of Illinois, making it a must-visit destination for any snowmobile enthusiast.
Where can I ride?
The Hennepin Canal Trail offers more designated snowmobiling trails than anywhere in the state of Illinois. This ungroomed path allows unparalleled scenic views of the canal’s historic bridges and locks for riders.
Although the snowmobile trails are not groomed, they are designated with signs along the towpath. These trails are the only place to ride along the Hennepin Canal Trail; riding on the ice can be risky as the ice does not always solidly freeze at locks, bridges and culverts.
Ready to hit the trail?
Before loading up your gear, call (815) 454-2328 to check on the trail status. Snowmobiling on the Hennepin Canal Trail is allowed only when the trail is declared open by staff. The trail must have at least 4 inches of snow and 6 inches of frost on the ground.
The trail is either open or closed completely — it’s never partially open.
Check out your snowmobile route options from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources:
Mainline Canal Snowmobile Routes
Lock 2 to Bridge 15
Bridge 15 to Bridge 17A
Bridge 17A to Bridge 18A
Bridge 18A to Bridge 39
Bridge 39 to Bridge 40
Bridge 42A to Lock 29
Feeder Canal Snowmobile Route
Bridge 45 to Mainline
Anything else I should know?
Groups of 25 or larger are welcome on the Hennepin Canal Trail — and are even encouraged — but must register in advance with the park staff in order to avoid overcrowding or scheduling conflicts.
Minors are also welcome on the trails, but every group of 15 minors must be accompanied by one responsible adult.
Need to warm up? The park visitor center includes a warming house that is open to all visitors.
And as always, all riders are encouraged to exercise proper safety protocols and trail etiquette. Always wear safety equipment and bring extra supplies, and never operate a machine under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Be mindful of traffic when crossing bridges and roads. Always be respectful of other visitors on the trail and keep pets on a leash at all times.