Destination Illinois: Loud Thunder

News

It’s Rock Island county’s largest forest preserve.
And there’s lot to see and do there.


Ben Mills is the head ranger at Loud Thunder Forest Preserve in Illinois City.
It’s a nearly 1500-acre piece of land, that was once a horse ranch.
That’s until 1944, when Rock Island county took over.

“We basically just cut some roads in, cleared out some areas we designate as camp sites, just real basic fundamentals” said Mills. “We need to have a road system, we need to have x amount of pit toilets here and there, and some places for folks to camp.”

Once that basic groundwork was introduced, Mills says that’s when the park took it to the next level.
Making additions that are among some of the most unique in the state. 

“In ’67, we gained big branch creek, which gave us Lake George,” Mills explained. “That’s a unique body of water in the area, because it boasts the depths of up to 55 feet. The average guy gets to fish usually in a more shallow pond in the area, or this region. So, we can offer a little bit more challenges for folks. We got a boat rental, that is currently open on that lake. We have up to 17 single kayaks for folks to come out and use on the lake.”

A fresh, unique experience.
Mills says people can expect that when they come to loud thunder.

“It just offers a lot of things that not every park in our region offers,” says Mills. “It is the best kept secret in the quad cities. I’ve heard that multiple times, people who’ve grown up here their whole life, and had no idea this park existed, which is a shame. Because it is a beautiful place for folks to come out and enjoy.

For more information on Loud Thunder, visit the park’s website.

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