By Fuzzy Monkey
The Harrison Benwell Conservation Are is one of the parks in the McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD). Located in Wonder Lake, IL. The Harrison Benwell Conservation Area consist of 74 acres.
The park features 1.7 miles of hiking. Two separate loops add variety to the hiking. The trails are currently labeled “Long Loop” and “Short Loop”. There are no steep ascents or descents along the trails. The trails are more like lawn and are actually mowed grass with some dirt and mud on some of the more shaded parts of the park. There is one boardwalk/bridge in the park which alleviates additional damage to the trail. Most of the trail meanders through thin forest and some open prairie like spaces which offer views of the surrounding farms.
The Harrison Benwell Conservation Ares is undergoing habitat restoration. This may explain why I felt the park had a neglected feeling while hiking through the park. The existing campsite area is no longer maintained and the existing facilities (Outhouses) are locked. According to the McHenry County Conservation District’s website it appears there is a proposal to overhaul the park. Harrison Benwell is a special to me in that it is the first park I decided to film and review for the Fuzzy Monkey blog. Until the MCCD.
Other amenities at the park include several large grassy areas with picnic tables and grills. The main shelter has room for 80. The main picnic area has room for 100. The main parking lot accommodates 20 vehicles.
Fuzzy Monkey’s Advise on visiting or Hiking Harrison Benwell.
My visit to Harrison Benwell was during the summer of 2011 (June 2, 2011). I carried a Camelbak with me during my visit. I recommend bringing your own water, If you forget there is well water. My experience has been that this water has a distinguished smell and taste which turns most people off. The mosquitoes were not bad during my visit. I do recommend some form of bug repellant or dressing appropriately during the summer months. I wore hiking pants, a quick drying t-shirt shoes and sun hat. I also carry an iPhone with the trails application installed to measure my distance and location.
When approaching the entrance on McCollum Lake Road, slow down when you get close to the Harrison School. The entrance is right next to the school parking lot. I passed it on accident and had to turn around, as its very easy to miss. If you are looking for peace and quiet, visit the park during the week. There was a school class or something utilizing the shelter but the trails were empty. Visitors can find a self guided map at the kiosk by the parking lot. The is a portable toilet for visitors use. To view more reviews please visit the McHenry County Conservation District post.
Thanks for visiting