If you want to try camping in the Chicagoland area without traveling far afield, you could do worse. Most of the sites have a chip pad for tents and concrete for the vehicle. Site 20 is turf and nicely secluded. Most of the sites are partial shade. County park district runs it and the fees are kinda steep, 20 res/30 non-res
We stayed in the hickory loop, site 40. On the map there are interior sites which are fairly open and level, not much separating the sites. But the sites on the edge, on the water often have some foliage separating the sites for some added privacy. There are sites near a small inlet, it’s water was a bit more swampy, not as aesthetically pleasing as some of the other shire sites, if that’s a concern. Site 20 is the best and it is almost always reserved, one of these years we’re gonna bag that one. The lake offers some nice fishing, there is a fishing platform near this loop, we got some bites, but the rain moved in and we didn’t land anything. Lots of folks brought kayaks, seemed like a great place for water activities. Hiking trails are nice, not tremendously long or rigorous. Water taste is pretty good, bathrooms are pit, decently clean. There are showers but we did not partake. There is a shopping center about a half mile outside of the entrance in case you forgot something or run out of smore supplies. Cell reception was fair/decent. They have a pay beach with a snack shop with fantastic local ice cream. I think as of the third week in July (2020) it was back open. They have a FB page and it has all the breaking news.
We tent camped in the Shady Rest Loop. The B sites (we were B-36) are a strip on one side on the loop. It’s mostly RVs and a shower facility is close by. You get shower access with the B tent sites. They have reserve and walk up. There is a fairly big road that can be noisy. There are tent sites across the road but we did not check them out. Loredo Taft sculpted the large Blackhawk statue on the river (also sculpted the alma mater at U if I). There are some wide hiking trails, very shaded. AT&T got decent cell service in camp. The camp host will sell you firewood. Wed-Sun they have a snack shop with hot dogs and ice cream type stuff. There are volleyball and basketball court, playground and lots of open space if you like to use for games. Fishing is a bit tough from the shore. If you had a boat it might be easier to put in and fish off some of the islands in the river. Water quality from the pumps seemed good. The camp ground is pretty open, so if you are looking for more secluded sites, this might not be for you. That said, aside from the road, it was pretty quiet but we camped mid week. The B sites in this loop were a bit slanted. And our site, B-36 was across the road from the streetlight, our car blocked it pretty well so not a if deal for us. A video of the loo and some pics of the sites are included. Enjoy your camping!
We tent camped at site 37. This site has a nice mix of shade and sun and the back had a water faucet. There is a trail that works it’s way through the back of the sites. The sites are a bit close together and separation is sometimes sparse. Restrooms are pits and well maintained stocked with TP. No showers on site. One loop of the tent sites are able to be reserved and the other loop is first come, first served. There are short trails with some steep climbs, not wide paths so bring bug spray and tick tools! The river that cuts through is small but picturesque. Picnic areas are plentiful near the water. Caught two tiny bass and a trout. No firewood on site, but multiple homes on the drive in had $5 self serve bundles for sale. This site is a dark skies site, so if it’s not overcast or full moon there is some good stargazing. AT&T cell service is mostly nonexistent in camp, but kicks in as you head out, so plan your research ahead of time. Attached are some shots of some sites from the road