By Fuzzy Monkey
The Peter J Exner Marsh Conservation Area is one of the parks in the McHenry County Conservation District. Located in Lake In The Hills, IL. Peter J Exner Marsh Conservation Area consist of 233 acres.
Exner Marsh consist of four hiking sections. Totaled up the distance is about 1.6 miles of trail. The park is conveniently located among the sprawling suburban landscape of large homes. Not only is the hiking scenic, but Exner Marsh is a great place for wildlife viewing. The marsh habitat offers visitors the opportunity for viewing birds of all sorts, turtles, fish, frogs and if visiting during the summer plenty of mosquitoes and dragon flies.
The park contains four distinct hiking sections a .45 mile loop, a .6 mile loop, a .25 connector trail, and .3 mile loop. The .45 section and the .6 miles section are accessed from the main parking lot on Lakewood Rd. The .25 connector trail brings visitors to the Miller road parking lot and .3 mile loop. The trail itself is mowed grass and winds through the park and along the marsh. (See Peter J Exner Marsh Photo Album). The hiking is flat and easily suitable for all ages and experience.
The main parking lot at Lakewood can accommodates 20 vehicles. The Miller Road parking can accommodate 10 vehicles. The main shelter at the Lakewood entrance accommodates 80. The Lakewood entrance also features restrooms, well water and grills. The Miller Rd entrance features well water and one picnic table. The park is open from sunrise to sunset.
Fuzzy Monkey’s advise on hiking the Peter J Exner Marsh Conservation Area
My visit to Peter J Exner Marsh was during the summer 2011 (June 28, 2011). I did not carry water with me during my hike. I had my water bottle in the car which was adequate. I recommend bringing your own water. Both the Lakewood entrance and the Miller Road entrance have well water so If you forget there is well water, but this tends to have a distinguished smell and taste which turns most people off. The mosquitoes were annoying during my visit which I expected being close to a major water source. I recommend some form of bug repellant or dressing appropriately. I wore shorts, a button down cotton shirt, hiking shoes, socks and sun hat. I also carry an iPhone with the trails app installed to measure my distance and location.
If I had done it all over again, I’d wear light hiking pants even when its hot to keep the mosquitoes and ticks away. I would also bring some deet or repellant with me. I did wear a sun hat which I’m very glad I did as it was nice and sunny the day I visited. I’d also recommend a pair of sunglasses. If you are interested in ornithology, bring a pair of binoculars. There were several times I wish I had mine on me. Exner Marsh is great for observing turtles. Several were along the stores resting, every time I got close they dove into the water. My visit also included watching the small fish swim in and out of the drainage duct. Great wildlife at Peter J Exner Marsh. I’d definitely come back for more adventure here.
I visited during the week and the only people I ran into were riding on the bike path and not hiking. Visitors can find a self guided map at either kiosk by the parking lot or download the map from the McHenry County Conservation District website. For more park reviews visit Fuzzy Monkey’s McHenry County Hiking post.