Located 10 miles northeast of Rockford, Rock Cut State Park is a 3,100-acre recreation area that encompasses two natural grasslands, a natural creek area, a nature preserve and 162-acre Pierce Lake. The area was designated a state park in 1957 as a way of preserving a local polititian’s favorite fishing hole. Prior to this, the park and wider area has a long history of Native American residence, including the Mascouten, the Winnegabo, and the Chippewa. With abundant water and preserved natural areas, the park now supports a thriving habitat for local birds, fish and wildlife. And with year-round camping and outdoor activities, you can experience the many seasonal sides the park has to offer.
The campground at Rock Cut provides 270 sites that can accommodate tent campers, as well as RV and trailer campers up to 40 feet. Back-in sites are mostly grassy and equipped with picnic tables, cooking grills and electrical hookups. The campground provides water faucets, restrooms, showers, and a dump station; the water and dump station are not available November through April. One of the park’s multiuse trails runs right through the campground, and provides access to the larger trail network. Most of the campground’s facilities are ADA accessible. Dogs are permitted in the park, but must remain leashed; alcohol is not permitted.
For recreating in temperate seasons, more than 40 miles of hiking, cycling and equestrian trails allow you to explore the park’s woodlands and prairies. These are ideal ways to observe some of the local birds, animals, and wildflowers. For fun on the water, paddle around in a canoe or kayak, take a dip at Olsen Beach, or go fishing for some of the lake’s largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, pike and walleye. Several picnic areas throughout the park are ideal for group or family gatherings. In the snowy season, many of the park’s trails are open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, with gear rentals available. For more family fun in the area, check out the nearby Volcano Falls Adventure Park.
Tent sites are in hickory hills area. Easy walk to showers/toilets over across from site 100. Tent sites are much more shaded and private than electric sites. We were traveling with another family so had two sites. If you have two parties I'd recommend sites 27 and 31 which have a little private path and potentially 53 and 5 which also appeared to have a path between them. Our sites 47 and 53 were big and shaded but not very flat for sleeping. Boat launch very close if you bring your own kayaks or canoes. There are also some for rent at the other end of the park. Park and ice at concessions.
We booked a couple of days ahead of our stay, and ended up with one of the last 2 sites in the primitive tent area. The site was on the end of an inlet, and the water was full of algae– not a great view, but the lot was a decent size. Not as big as some state campgrounds that we’ve been to, but big enough for our single tent and it had a small fire ring with grate and a picnic table. (NOTE: There appears to be a shortage of picnic tables in this area, and we ended up snatching one from the neighboring site as the residents hadn’t arrived yet. It was an east/west facing lot, and had a couple of trees of the east side, so no afternoon shade. Tough luck on a weekend with temps hanging around 90 degrees! Luckily, I had taken a large tarp and managed to rig some shade with the help of the trees. The toilets in the primitive area are pit– there are 2 sets so no one has to walk far. The toilets closest to our lot were better than I had expected from a pit– no smell in the women’s, although I was told that the men’s was pretty foul. There were, as usual, plenty of flies and spiders, but the TP was always stocked. There were flush toilets and showers near the RV camp areas. I first, used the showers in the Plum Grove section– there were 3 showers with very old with rusty, crusty shower curtains. The way that they were laid out, the changing area for the first two showers were a walkway for the other showers. However, I later used the shower close to the Staghorn area, and it was a bit newer and nicer. No walkthrough problems, and there was a door between the changing area and the main section. Overall, the entire campground was nice and well kept. The general store was small, but carried quite a bit for its size. There was also another store at Pierce Lake where they rented kayaks and paddle boats, sold fishing gear, ice cream, etc. At this same location there’s a small concession area– the hot dogs were pretty good.“Quiet time” isn’t exactly enforced(unfortunately). We were lucky enough camp on a weekend when a group(maybe 10 tents) of wannabe musicians were camping. They played bongos and guitars and sang until 11:30 p.m. Add that to the families with kids and scooters that started tooling around the tents at 7:00 a.m.(yes, technically the end of quiet time, but really?), and it could have been quieter.
NOTE: I forgot to mention that the sites along the water's edge were covered in goose poo. We spent around 20 minutes clearing the site. Nature, whatcha gonna do?
The camp ground itself was decent. It was very small but was enough for a two night stay. I was disappointed in the lack of activities there were there. They have two lakes for fishing and a bike trail. Not much for hiking.
I stayed at a primitive site right on the lake and was able to keep my canoe at my site in the water. Easy booking and check-in/out. Large camping spots and nice trails
We’ve stayed at Rock Cut several times, always in the Stag Horn loop, and had great sites. This last time, the grass was so high, we couldn’t use our fire pit or picnic table. My husband came later and he brought our weed wacker so we could clear it out enough to set up our screened canopy. I like stag horn since they are level, close to the bathroom and camp store, as well as a mixture of wooded and not wooded sites. Some sites are a bit tight.
Some sites are more secluded than others. Down by the boat ramp is more privacy than the other tent area. There have been issues with poison ivy overrunning the paths in the past but I don’t think it’s been an issue lately. Rentals for water activities and supplies at the concessions or camping store if needed. Lots of hiking trails to explore.
I want to point out from the start that is has been an unusually wet spring in northern IL. The camp sites are very rustic and all the rain didn’t do many of them any favors. Several are completely unusable this weekend. We had to use 4 wheel drive to back the trailer in our spot. It is very soggy and the ground is pretty saturated. It a big campground near a big lake with fishing and a store. The loops have old pit toilets as well as central shower houses. the spaces range from small and private to small and wide open. It’s Saturday night and the local racetrack is running heats. About a mile away, and it’s loud. If I was in tent it would be awful.
Nice quiet place to get away. Large lake for boating and fishing. Sights are good sized for campers and pop-ups. Tent sites are a little sloped. Easy trails around the lake.
State park offers some good hiking and all season activities. Camp ground was quiet and clean.
The campground was very pretty, clean, and friendly staff. The bath houses were clean, the outhouses were not bad. Nice walking paths. Grills on the fire pits. I recommend not camping on the downside of the tent Hills. If there is rain you will be washed out.