If you're looking for the ideal place to drop your line and catch a record fish, look no farther than Clinton Lake State Recreation Area. Recreational opportunities abound at this 9,300-acre facility, just 10 miles east of Clinton in central Illinois. From picnicking, hiking and camping to swimming, water skiing and boating to hunting for upland game, people from all over the midwest flock to Clinton Lake to enjoy the great outdoors.
If just relaxing and watching the animal life is your interest, Clinton Lake has various small mammals and nearly 40 species of birds, including osprey which dive into the lake for fish. In the spring, it is the place to search for morels. In the fall, it is ablaze with a rainbow of color.
The park land is owned by AmerGen which operates a nuclear power plant in the area since 1978. The State of Illinois has operated the park through a long-term lease with the utility company. The partnership demonstrates that the state government and private businesses can work together to provide outstanding recreation.
Prior to the arrival of settlers in the area, the land on which the park rests primarily was upland prairie and bottomland deciduous forest. Historians believe the area was the site of small villages and hunting camps of tribes of the Illini Confederacy. Kickapoo also likely were in the area until the 1820s. The first permanent European-born settlers came to the area in the 1830s. Many came from Kentucky and Tennessee to farm the land. Most of the area had been used as pasture or cropland when construction of the 4,900-acre lake began in the 1970s.
The 4,900-acre lake and outstanding fishing is what draws people to the park. Special accessible piers are present at the Mascoutin Access Area, the Spillway Access Area and the Valley Mill Bank Fishing Area. If youre dropping your line here, chances are youre fishing for crappie. Hook them with white, yellow or chartreuse jigs and minnows, which seem to work the best.
Dont tell anyone, because the locals like to keep it quiet, but Clinton Lake is one of the best lakes in the state for catfish. Most of them are taken from the banks, or in the upper arms of the lake.
Hybrid and pure striped bass fishing is popular here, with numerous fish more than 10 pounds taken every year. But a word of caution - the bass are tackle busters. Careful, or you might lose your pole to them.
For good eating, it is hard to beat a walleye and Clinton Lake has plenty of them. Banks adjacent to bridges are excellent places to catch walleye and boaters can hit the Old Creek channels or submerged flats. For some great spring action, the spillway area yields large numbers of both walleye and stripers, as well as crappie and catfish. Clinton Lake also provides good action for largemouth and smallmouth bass, white bass and bluegill. Special size and creel limits are in effect for most species.
Fishing Tournaments - Clinton Lake is host to dozens of charitable and competitive fishing tournaments each year. Special rules and regulations apply to these events. Fishing tournaments must be permitted by the Division of Fisheries – IDNR Fishing Tournament Permit and by the Division of Land Management through the Activity Permit and Liability Release (if applicable). Mail forms to Clinton Lake SRA 7251 Ranger Rd. DeWitt, IL 61735. Please note – No tournament may launch from Mascoutin boat ramp from May 1 through September 30.
2015 Fishing Tournament Schedule - coming soon.
Current Lake Conditions
Clinton Lake is No Wake for all boats from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise with the exception of waterfowl hunters. There are no horsepower limitations in the lakes main basin. Sailboating is popular. When the wind gets up, the lake can be very rough. Small watercraft are urged to stick to the north fork arm of Salt Creek on rough days. Six public boat ramps and one canoe launch are available. All DNR ramps are now equipped with wheelchair accessible boat docks. Clinton Lake Sailing Association Website
Swimming & Water Skiing
A beautiful, 1,000-foot white sand beach awaits swimmers and sunbathers looking to catch some rays or frolic in the warm waters of the lake. The beach is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.. 7 days per week, weather permitting. There is a changing facility with showers and restrooms. No lifeguards are present; remain in the buoyed areas and swim with caution. No pets, glass, sharp objects or alcohol are allowed on the beach.
Waterskiing on Clinton Lake is a blast and permitted from the Route 54 bridge to the Route 48 bridge. Beach fees are $2 per day per person. Swimming is allowed in other areas of the lake but not within 100 yards of bridges, boat ramps or boat docks.
Trails | Trails Map
| Equestrian Trail Map
The Mascoutin Campground area has a new one mile multi-use limestone trail between the campground and the beach. Bicycles are also permitted on the 5.5 miles of hiking trails located north of the beach including the Houseboat Cove Trail, Pond in woods Trail and the North Loop Trail. These trails are not paved and consist of either mowed grass or natural earth surfaces. They are easy to moderate in difficulty and follow the shoreline through the woods. Other hiking trails within the Mascoutin Campground area include the 2 mile shoreline trail. Bicycles are not permitted on the Shoreline trail because of the numerous stairways and wooden bridges.
The 9.3 mile North Fork Hiking Trail is primitive and rated as difficult. The trail is not surfaced and runs through steep wooded banks, and provides unparalleled views of the lake and opportunities to view wildlife. There are no exits once you enter the trail, so be prepared for 4.2 miles up and 5.1 miles back. The trail features a 40-acre restored prairie along the North Fork, but beautiful wildflowers can be seen along both trails. A ten mile equestrian/hiking/cross-county ski trail is located on the north side of the lake east of the Parnell Access Area. Horse trailer parking is provided at the Parnell Access Area where a wheelchair ramp for mounting horses is available. All equestrian trails are closed to bicycles year round, and the trail is closed to horses from Oct. 1 to the end of archery deer season.
Update: Peninsula Day Use Area and Lane Day Use Area are closed indefinitely.
Day use areas are located around the lake with tables, stoves, water, playground equipment and toilet facilities. Accessible shelters at the Mascoutin and Weldon access areas have electricity. Weldon also has an open, grassy area along the shoreline for softball or fishing. A nearby wooded picnic area provides shaded protection during those long, hot summer days. The Mascoutin shelter has a great view of the lake. Shelters may be reserved for a fee by using the Reserve America website.
For your convenience, the Clinton Lake Marina, located 1 mile north of IL Rt. 10, off road 1700 East, has a bait and tackle shop as well as gas, food and sundries. Slip rental and boat sales service are also available. Call (217) 736-2727 for more information.
More than 2,900 huntable acres are available at Clinton Lake. The most common species are rabbit, pheasant, squirrel and dove, although quail and woodcock also are present. Deer can be taken in season by archery only. Limited muzzleloading deer hunting and shotgun turkey hunting is available. Waterfowl hunting is permitted on the main lake basin from anchored boat blinds only. Walk in waterfowl hunting is permitted from numbered posts located north of the IL Rt. 54 bridge and east of the bridge at the Parnell Boat Access Area. All hunters must obtain a free site hunting permit at www.dnr.illinois.gov. Try the archery range, complete with a shooting tower, just east of the North Fork Boat Access Area where you can take aim at life-size targets of deer and turkey. Some of the targets are accessible to wheelchair-bound archers. Contact the site office for details on Clinton Lake's designated hunting area for disabled hunters.
Clinton Lake Hunter Fact Sheet
Birkbeck Hunter Fact Sheet | Finfrock Hunter Fact Sheet | Hallsville Hunter Fact Sheet | Salt Creek Waterfowl Hunter Fact Sheet
A special youth pheasant hunt will be conducted in October at Clinton Lake. For more information contact the Clinton office or review the information on the Controlled Pheasant Website.
When the temperature drops, dont huddle inside. Come to Clinton Lake. Ice fishing, ice skating and snowmobiling are allowed on the lake when the ice is thick enough. The North Fork and the coves on Salt Creek are good for ice fishing and skating. In the warmer areas of the lake, folks drop their lines from the bank all winter long. The hiking and equestrian trails double as cross-country ski trails in the winter and provide a great workout.
There are 17 Class AA campsites, 277 Class A campsites and 14 Class B/S campsites at Clinton Lake. Showers are available and most sites are adaptable to tents, trailers or motor homes. Each site is equipped with a grill and picnic table. Reservations can be made online at the Reserve America website. Camping loops H, I, J and K are alcohol-free. The wooded area along the lake provides the perfect setting to turn in after a long day of fun. Camp Quest group camp area for adults or youth groups has room for 75. It provides a secluded wooded setting and has a large shelter with electricity, three RV pads with electrical hookups, toilets, tables, grills and water. No shower facilities are present at the group camp area. Portions of the Class AA, A and B/S and the group camp are handicapped accessible. The shower buildings are closed by November 1st (may be earlier if bad weather) and reopen May 1st (may be earlier - weather depending).
Located close to the swim beach or accessible by car, is Boondocks Grill and Bait. This concession, with indoor and outdoor dining, serves sandwiches, beverages, snacks and its ever popular fish dinner. You also can purchase bait, camping supplies, firewood and ice.
I57, north or south bound: I57 to Champaign; exit onto I74 west to Farmer City (approximately 20 miles); exit onto Rt 54 west (left at stop sign at end of exit ramp). Take Rt 54 through Farmer City and proceed approximately 10 miles to DeWitt. Brown informational sign at DeWitt will read "Mascoutin State Recreation Area". Turn left at corner of Route 54 and Randolph St. Go through DeWitt and proceed approximately 1 mile, park is on the right side of road. Park office is first left after entering park.
I55, south bound: I55 to Bloomington; follow I55 around south side of Bloomington and take I74 east for 2 miles; exit I74 onto Rt 51 south. Take Rt 51 south to Clinton (approximately 20 miles); ignore all Clinton exits and stay on the 4-lane going around town to the 2nd stop light (Rt 54). Turn left and follow Rt 54 through Clinton; proceed approximately 10 miles to DeWitt. Brown informational sign at DeWitt will read "Mascoutin State Recreation Area". Turn right onto Hwy 14 and follow this through DeWitt; proceed approximately 1 mile, the park is on the right side of road. Park office is first left after entering park.
I55, north bound: I55 to north side of Springfield; take exit for Rt 54 east, Clinton. Stay on Rt. 54 to DeWitt (approximately 50 miles). Brown informational sign at DeWitt will read "Mascoutin State Recreation Area". Turn right onto Hwy 14 and follow this through DeWitt; proceed approximately 1 mile, the park is on the right side of road. Park office is first left after entering park.
Rt. 51 north bound: take Rt. 51 north to 2nd stop light at Clinton (Rt. 54); turn right and follow Rt. 54 through Clinton. Continue on Rt. 54 to DeWitt. Brown informational sign at DeWitt will read "Mascoutin State Recreation Area". Turn right onto Hwy 14 and follow this through DeWitt; proceed approximately 1 mile, the park is on the right side of road. Park office is first left after entering park.
For more information contact Clinton Lake State Recreation Area, Park Office, 7251 Ranger Rd, DeWitt, IL, 61735, (217)935-8722. GPS Location: 725 1900E
Note: Most facilities are handicapped accessible.
- 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
- 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.
- For more information
on tourism in Illinois, call the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity
Bureau of Tourism at 1-800-2Connect.
- Telecommunication Device
for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Natural Resources Information (217) 782-9175
for TDD only Relay Number 800-526-0844.