For the day visitor there are many designated picnic areas scattered throughout the park, with tables and grills (ground fires are not permitted), restrooms, drinking water, playgrounds, two baseball diamonds and sand volleyball courts. A large, brick outdoor pavilion and eight smaller shelters are available for reunions and group gatherings. Six shelters are available for reservation. Reservations are available at
Picnic tables, cooking grills, drinking water, toilet facilities and a sanitary dumping stations are available to campers. The shower building is closed by November 1st (may be earlier if bad weather) and reopen April 15 (may be earlier - weather depending). Reservations are available at
Due to the rich, abundant plant and animal life in the park and its dramatic hills and bluffs, the 8 miles of the park’s meandering trail system is the natural focus for most visitors. Fox Ridge is a ravine of glacial moraine and many of the 10 connected trails are steep. Eighteen picturesque wooden bridges and numerous rest benches make them easily negotiable. Descriptive markers at each trail entrance provide detailed information. Turkey, deer, foxes, squirrels, raccoons, rabbits, turkey vultures, hawks, owls, quail, pheasants and the lush foliage will make your journey both exciting and restful.
Eight separate but looping trails are located within the park, allowing visitors to extend or cut short a walk. Options range from a walk along the Embarras River to a nice walk through the deciduous forest once common in the area. A 4-mile horse trail is available, however, users must bring their own horse and there are no overnight facilities for horses (Horse trail closed from October 31 - April 15).
The staircase to Eagle's Nest climbs 144 steps to a deck overlooking the river, providing wonderful views during the fall, winter and spring.
A fitness trail offers another dimension to the trail system. Two accessible trails are available, one wandering along the edge of a ravine and the other circling a small fishing pond with an accessible fishing pier.
Fishing and Boating
Ridge Lake is well-stocked with bluegill, largemouth bass and channel catfish. However, fishing is permitted by reservation only at this research facility. Contact the Illinois Natural History Survey at
Fishing in the Embarras River is open to anglers willing to descend the steep slopes. Lake Charleston, about 4 miles from the park, also provides opportunities.
Canoe access: Two canoe launches, one north and one south, provide a 5 mile trip on the Embarras River.
The northern area of the park contains 1,129 acres open for public hunting. A windshield card is needed for hunting, and can be printed off
online. The Fox Ridge hunter fact sheet shows boundary lines and describes the area and species most abundant.
For more information, please review the
Hunter Fact Sheet.
- March 1 - October 31, 7:30 am - 10:00 pm;
- November 1 - February 29, 7:30 am - 5:00 pm.
From I-57, take Route 16 Exit east to Charleston. Stay on Rt. 16, all the way through Charleston to the Intersection of Rt. 16 and Rt. 130. Turn Right/South and go 7 miles.
From I-70, take Exit for Rt. 130 North. Go approximately 11 miles.
- While groups of 25 or more are welcome and encouraged to use the park's facilities, they are required to register in advance with the site office to avoid crowding or scheduling conflicts.
- At least one responsible adult must accompany each group of 15 minors.
- Pets must be kept on leashes at all times.
- Actions by nature can result in closed roads and other facilities. Please call ahead to the park office before you make your trip.
- We hope you enjoy your stay. Remember, take only memories, leave only footprints.