By Fuzzy Monkey
Photo Album – Marengo Ridge Conservation Area
The Marengo Ridge Conservation Area is one of the parks in the McHenry County Conservation District. Located in Marengo, IL. The Marengo Ridge Conservation Area consist of 818 acres.
Marengo Ridge offers both wooded trail and open prairie to enjoy. Hiking in the park is essentially divided into 4 sections. The South Hiking Loop trail is 1.25 miles. The Short Hiking Loop trail is .6 miles. The Long Hiking Loop trail is 1.1 miles. The Kelly Hertel Nature trail is 1.3 miles.
The South Hiking Loop Trail is 1.25 miles. It winds through prairie and some wooded area. The trail terrain is wide and grassy. Its easy to follow. Hikers can park at the Shelter 2 parking lot and access the trail from here. Water, restrooms and shelter can be found at this section of the park.
The Short Hiking Loop trail is .06 mile. It winds through woods with views of small patches of prairie. This is also the Interpretative section of the park and several interpretative signs can be found along the trail. The actual terrain is wide and well groomed. Since it meanders through forest there are some roots to deal with but this is minimal.
The Long Hiking Loop Trail is 1.1 miles. This trail winds through forest as it circles the group camping sites. The terrain is wide and well groomed.
The Kelly Hertel Nature Trail Loop is 1.3 miles. This is also the most challenging section of trail in the park. The actual trail is narrow and more of what you would imagine a hiking trail looking and feeling like. It also winds through thicker forest areas and is much more quieter than the other trails in the park.
Other amenities at the Marengo Ridge Conservation Area include 2 distinct picnic areas. They are labeled Shelter #1, and Shelter #2. They both have nice grassy area’s with picnic tables, water, and restrooms. Marengo Ridge is also the location of Thomas Woods Campground. The park is open from sunrise to sunset.
Fuzzy Monkey’s advise on hiking the Marengo Ridge Conservation Area
My visit to Marengo Ridge was during the summer 2011 (September 7, 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. If you forget, there is well water but this tends to have a distinguished smell and taste that turns most people off. My gear included light hiking pants, a button down shirt, hiking shoes, socks, camera, video camera and hat.
My hike started at the parking lot of shelter 2. The views from here are nice with rolling hills in front of you as you leave the shelter. The south loop also has an interpretative council circle with describes the Marengo Moraine.
The next section of my hike included the interpretative short loop. This also connects to the long loop and Kelly Hertel Nature trail. I circled the long loop and took pictures of the group campsites as this was the perfect time to document this section. My hiked ended with tackling the Kelly Hertel Nature Loop. I really enjoyed this section as the trail is more narrow and more challenging. It also winds through thicker forest terrain which I really like. It was later in the afternoon by the time I hiked the Kelly Hertel section and lighting was low because of the clouds and shade from the trees. The Kelly Hertel trail circles around and brings you back to the Long Loop and then to the Short Loop and back to the parking lot.
I enjoyed my visit to Marengo Ridge. I also visited the park in early September and most of the mosquitoes were gone, which made the hiking really pleasant. September is a great time to visit the park and I recommend visiting during this time.
I visited during the week and only saw a few people. Visitors can find a self guided map at the kiosk by the parking lot or download the map from the McHenry County Conservation District web site. For more park reviews visit Fuzzy Monkey’s McHenry County Hiking post.