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large boulder at Rock Cut State Park during autumn

Picturesque Rock Cut State Park, a 3,092 wooded area nestled along Pierce Lake and Olson Lake, lies near Rockford in Winnebago County. This serene Northern Illinois public recreational area is a popular tourist destination year round.

Guests enjoy exploring miles of trails – hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing – as well as fishing, camping, boating, swimming, picnicking, and bird watching.


Rock Cut State Park has created a welcoming atmosphere for guests visiting for a day or spending several nights.

Picnic areas with tables, grills, and restrooms are scattered throughout this Illinois state park. And concessions are available seasonally. One, located at Pierce Lake, carries boat rentals, fishing bait, and more. And another, The Lone Rock Cafe, offers food items, snacks, drinks, and more for purchase.

Here are some of the activities that you can do during your visit to Rock Cut State Park:

Boating at Rock Cut State Park

Bring your canoe, kayak, or sailboat for an enjoyable day on one of the 2 lakes located within Rock Cut State Park.

Kayaks and stand-up paddle boards may be available to rent from the park’s concessionaire during the summer.

Pierce Lake has 2 docks and 2 boat launch ramps available. Most types of boats are allowed on this lake but should not operate at more than 10 MPH. Kayaks, canoes, paddleboards and small electric boats only are permitted on Olson Lake.

Pierce lake at Rock Cut State Park during autumn

Swimming at Rock Cut State Park

Olson Beach is the place to be during the summer! This large beach area, open for guests between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, features a volleyball court, picnic areas, and a concession stand. The concession carries boat rentals, beach toys, snacks, ice cream, and more.

Hiking at Rock Cut State Park

Explore the more than 40 miles of hiking trails that wind throughout the woods, along streams, and past the 2 lakes inside Rock Cut State Park. These trails begin near the picnic areas and are divided (by color) into separate trails for hiking only, hiking and mountain biking, and hiking and equestrian.

Hikers with snowshoes may access trails during the winter.

Here are a couple of the trails at Rock Cut State Park:

  • Pierce Lake Trail – Moderate 3.7 mile trail that winds through the woods and around the lake. Sections of this trail are paved and some cross shallow streams.
  • Willow Creek Trail – Moderate 5.2 mile paved trail that follows the creek as it leads outside of the park and into nearby Rockford.

wooden walkway at Rock Cut State Park

Biking at Rock Cut State Park

Rock Cut State Park provides 23 miles of trails for mountain bikers to enjoy between April 1 and November 30. These trails are multi-use and shared with either hikers or horseback riders. The Willow Creek Bike Trail is a paved trail that leads outside of the park and into nearby Rockford.

Horseback Riding at Rock Cut State Park

Rock Cut State Park offers 14 miles of equestrian trails for guests with their own horses. These trails are open between April 1 and November 30 and shared with guests with mountain bikes..

Nearby Lockwood Park, about 10 miles outside of the park in Rockford, offers horse boarding and trail rides.

Winter Sports at Rock Cut State Park

Planning to visit during the winter? Experience the thrill of skiing through the woods while taking in all of the beautiful views around the lakes. Rock Cut State Park maintains trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoes plus offers ice skating and ice fishing (under the right conditions). And a concession inside the Camp Store carries rentals of snowshoes and cross-country skis.

Fishing at Rock Cut State Park

Don’t forget to pack your angling gear and pick up an Illinois Fishing license ahead of time. Rock Cut State Park’s 2 lakes, Lake Pierce and Lake Olson, provide plenty of options for an ideal fishing day year round (ice fishing is popular here during the winter).

And large Pierce Lake is stocked with channel catfish, largemouth bass, sunfish, northern pike, walleye, bluegill, bullhead, and muskellunge. The choice is yours, fish from shore, boat, or along one of the park’s 2 ADA fishing piers.

travel trailer at a campsite at Rock Cut State Park

Birding at Rock Cut State Park

Bird lovers will enjoy seeing a variety of species during their visit to Rock Cut State Park. The park’s trails and along both lakes offer ideal viewing for Mallards, Bald Eagles, Canadian Geese, Eastern Bluebirds, Mourning Doves, Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays, American Robins, Indigo Buntings, Brown Thrashers, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers.

Nature and Wildlife at Rock Cut State Park

Not only will you observe many types of birds, especially waterfowl, throughout this 3,092 acre park but also deer, foxes, raccoons, squirrels, opossum, muskrats, woodchucks, and beavers. Rock Cut State Park is also the place to see more than 100 types of wildflowers during the spring and summer.


Pets are allowed at Rock Cut State Park as long as they are supervised and kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet.


Spend a few peaceful nights inside Rock Cut State Park. The park’s overnight accommodations include a large campground, a youth group camping area, one equestrian camping area, and one rustic cabin.

The beautiful and spacious campground features 270 campsites with electric connections and access to drinking water, restrooms, and hot showers. A boat launch and playground are located within the campground area.

The primitive cabin has electricity but no bathroom or water. And the equestrian camping area is based on a first come first served. A Ranger will collect the fee for guests camping in this area.

Park Location

Rock Cut State Park
7223 West Lane Rd
Loves Park, IL 61111
Phone: 815.885.3311

Park Website



Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Rock Cut State Park: