Nature Preserve Area:
Location and Access:
From Hwy. 3 at Olive Branch, take blacktop road south 1 mile to Horseshoe Lake Conservation Area. The nature preserve is in the state conservation area.
This preserve is made up of two separate tracts within Horseshoe Lake Conservation Area. One area is west of the campgrounds and the other is located on the southern tip of Horseshoe Lake Island. The area was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1974. Horseshoe Lake is an ancient oxbow of the Mississippi River and this entire preserve is on the Mississippi floodplain. The woods on Horseshoe Island is a near virgin forest of beech, sugar maple, swamp chestnut oak and American elm growing in loamy soils. Some of these trees reach up to 48" in diameter. A bald cypress and tupelo community can be found in the interior sloughs and bordering Horseshoe Lake. Willow and swamp cottonwood are common associates here, with buttonbush as a typical shrub. The west tract is a forest of pin oak, sweet gum and other oaks growing in wet heavy soils. Interesting and unusual reptiles and amphibians include green treefrog, mole salamander and cottonmouth. Red-shouldered hawks, prothonotary warbler, fish crow and during the winter, bald eagles, may also be seen here.
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
For further information:
Site Superintendent, Horseshoe Lake State Conservation Area, Miller City, IL 62962 (618/776-5689)