Lake In The Hills Fen

Nature Preserve Area: 
Location and Access: 
From Algonquin at the jct. of Rt. 31 and Huntley-Algonquin Rd. (Rt. 62), west on Huntley-Algonquin for 1 mile to Pyott Rd. North on Pyott for 1.5 miles to the entrance of Barbara Key Park west for Pyott. Trailhead from Barbara Key Park provides access to the nature preserve.

Special Note: Parking and public facilities provided at Barbara Key Park.

Lake-In-The-Hills Fen is a picturesque complex of morainal ridges, composed primarily of limestone gravel, which surround depressional areas that contain very high quality of wetlands. Nine distinct native communities occur here and include calcareous floating mat, graminoid fen, low shrub fen, calcareous seep, sedge meadows and marsh, perennial stream, dry gravel prairie and mesic gravel prairie. The gravel hills are covered by dry prairies dominated by native grasses interspersed with a rich diversity of rare wildflowers such as Hill's thistle, prairie smoke, prairie gentian and leadplant. Ground water collecting in the sand and gravel of the gravel hills absorbs minerals from the limestone and seeps out at the base of the hills to form fens. Many rare plants are found in the fen including the false asphodel. The fen is home to the tiny blue bell, our smallest damsel fly, which is known to exist in only two sites in Illinois. Associated with the fen is the shrub fen, dominated by shrubby cinquefoil. Closer to the stream, sedge meadows provide a rich habitat for many uncommon wetland butterflies and birds as well as a variety of sedges, grasses and forbs. The sedge meadows grade into cattail marshes which border the perennial stream. From the center of the preserve, surrounded by the gravel hills and overlooking the lush green vegetation of the wetlands, it is possible to get a sense of stepping back in time. The natural diversity and scenic beauty of Lake-In-The-Hills Fen make it an excellent place to view native landscapes closely resembling pre-settlement conditions. An active volunteer stewardship group has been assisting with management activities for ten years.

Village of Lake-In-The-Hills, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and McHenry County Conservation District
April 1990
211.614 acres
Topographic Quad: 
Crystal Lake
Topo Map: 
For further information: 
Contact: McHenry County Conservation District, 6512 Harts Rd., Ringwood, IL 60072 (815/678-4431)

03/10 R. Heidorn