A state-run facility since 1958, Lake Le-Aqua-Na not only provides excellent recreation opportunities but also a beach to spend the hot summer days. Completed in 1956, Lake Le-Aqua-Na has 1.4 miles of shoreline and holds a variety of fish including largemouth bass and walleye. (PA photo/M. Nester)
By Mike Nester | For The Prairie Advocate News
LENA – Located just south of the Wisconsin border in Stephenson County, Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Recreation Area offers a variety of outdoor activities.
Whether you want to camp, swim at the beach, or fish the 40-acre lake, the Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources facility can be found three miles west of Lena on Lake Road.
Lake Le-Aqua-Na’s name is the result of a contest sponsored by the Stephenson County Sportsman’s Club, one of the park’s many sponsors. The name is a combination of the town of Lena and the Latin word for water, aqua.
Developed as part of a statewide plan to provide Illinois citizens with recreational opportunities close to home, the park was started with a land acquisition program in 1948 and dedicated as a 715-acre state recreation area 10 years later.
A typical Midwestern manmade lake, the water is moderately clear due to good watershed practices and the use of an axial-flow destratifier that mixes the lake water to keep oxygen levels high at all depths. Lake Le-Aqua-Na is one of only a few lakes in Illinois to use this device.
Completed in 1956, the lake provides fishing, boating and a swimming beach. Bring your own boat and enjoy the beauty of the lake’s 1.4 miles of wooded shoreline. A launching ramp is located adjacent to the concession stand and only electric motors are allowed.
Periodic stockings of walleye, northern pike and channel catfish compliment the lake’s self-sustaining largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie and bullhead populations. Brush piles and fish cribs are located throughout the lake and enhance habitat for the fish population. To keep the supply abundant, however, regulations governing catch limits and sizes are strictly enforced. There is also a children’s fishing pond.
A small beach, particularly suited to children, is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day. No lifeguards are in attendance so swimming is at your own risk. Alcohol is prohibited.
Lake Le-Aqua-Na offers a variety of camping opportunities from RV to equestrian camp sites.
Hickory Hill Campground, located at the west end of the lake, is designed for RV’s and has electric sites, while the Pine Ridge Campground is more primitive and located on the north side of Lake Le-Aqua-Na.
The Big Buck Hollow Equestrian Campground can be found on the lake’s east side, has a shelter, vault toilets and a hand pump for water. Access to the equestrian area is on county roads that border the park, not the main park entrance.
While the RV campground is open year-round, the shower building with flush toilets and the trailer dump station are open from May 1 to Nov. 1. To make reservations for the campground, go to www.reserveamerica.com.
The State Park provides 8.5 miles of trails with High Point Trail winding 3.3 miles on the north side of the lake. Three trails are located south of the lake with Waddam Creek being the shortest at just .5 miles as it traverses along the stream which fills the lake. Sweet Gum Trail is the park’s longest at 3.5 miles as it circles the equestrian campground. Whitetail Trail is a 1.7 mile venture and both Equestrian Spur Trail and the North/South trail Link connect the park’s trail system into one loop.
Oak, hickory, walnut and other hardwood trees are in abundance, along with large tracts of pine plantation. A good variety of woodland wildflowers, including Dutchman’s breeches, bloodroot and bluebells, cover the ground in the spring and early summer. Squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits and other small animals are often seen in the wooded areas, and deer also are frequently sighted.
Even if you are just up for a drive, Lake Le-Aqua-Na has seven parking lots to stretch your legs or even have a picnic.
Hunting opportunities are also available at Lake Le-Aqua-Na with a 30-day dove season as well as a youth deer firearm hunt and a 30-day Antlerless only archery