Picture yourself on the banks of a beautiful lake, surrounded by shady
oaks and rolling hills. The presence of a graceful heron on the water,
or deer or even a wild turkey in the nearby brush may be visible. A tug
on the fishing line brings you back to the task at hand -- reeling in
the first or your limit of largemouth bass, bluegill or crappie. As the
sun comes up, take a swim at sandy Rocky Point Beach. The rest of the
day offers many options, from hiking on the nature trails, to softball
or volleyball at the Circle Drive Picnic Area to water skiing. Or, you
may want to spend the night at the Oak Ridge Campground. All of this,
and more, awaits visitors to Stephen A. Forbes State Recreation Area.
Stephen A. Forbes State Recreation Area, located 15 miles northeast of
Salem in Marion County, was originally only 20 acres with a two-acre pond
being the only water available. Since that time in 1959, additions have
been made which bring the total current park area to 3,103 acres. Of this
total, 1,150 acres are forests of oak and hickory which surround a large
lake. The lake was completed in 1963 and has 18 miles of shoreline. The
area is named for natural scientist, Stephen Alfred Forbes, whose contributions
in the field of biology, make him world renowned. His prolific scientific
publications, over 400 titles, are still used extensively in the study
of aquatic biology, ornithology, ichthyology, and ecology.
popular with day visitors are the many shady, picnic areas. Choose from
Lookout Point, Stage Coach Trail, Black Oak, Sassafras, White Oak, Whippoorwill
or Circle Drive areas. Picnic tables, pit toilets, and park grills are
available at all sites. Circle Drive Picnic Area provides a more open
setting and has an area for softball, volleyball or other games requiring
an open grass area. Playground equipment is also available here, and at
Sassafras Picnic area as well. Rustic park shelters enhance the areas
at Whippoorwill, Sassafras, Stage Coach Trail and, Circle Drive Picnic
Areas.Shelters at Circle Drive, Sassafras, and Stagecoach Trail can be reserved through ReserveAmerica.com.
585-acre lake provides ample opportunities to the sport fisherman. The
lake has been stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, redear, crappie,
channel catfish, hybrid-striped bass, and walleye sauger
hybrid. Largemouth bass are stocked annually from brood ponds located
in the park. This, combined with a 14-inch size limit, has created excellent
bass fishery. Trout fishing is popular during the Spring and Fall seasons at Boston Pond, and fishing is also available at Marlow Pond and
ramps provide easy access to the main lake. There is no limit on horsepower,
but various sections of the lake are marked by buoys for water skiing
and "no wake" speeds. The concession offers fishing boats for
rental. Bait, tackle, gas, snacks, and meals are also available. Slips
are available to rent for pontoon boats and smaller craft on a daily and
beautiful 200-foot sand beach is located at Rocky Point where visitors
can enjoy swimming or picnicking at the tables provided here. Alcoholic
beverages are prohibited in the Rocky Point Area. Swimming is prohibited
at all other areas of the lake, and swimming from boats is also prohibited. There is a $2.00 a person per day fee to use the beach facilities.
new restaurant and marina opened on April 14th, 2001. This new facility
has inside seating for up 40 people in a triangular shaped dinning area
overlooking the lake. Additional outdoor seating will be available on
two different levels of patios. Other features include a "country
which provides necessary items for campers along with souvenirs. A tackle
and bait shop keeps the angler well stocked. The marina portion of the
project includes 80 boat slips for seasonal dockage, a fuel dock, and
boat rental. A 220 foot floating walkway connects the the campground
with the marina, and provides handicapped fishing access.
Click on image for larger image
recently modernized camping area, Oak Ridge Campground, is a great place
to spend an overnight stay. There are 115 shaded campsites with electricity,
water and a shower building available. 52 sites can be reserved through ReserveAmerica .com. Two sets of stairways and boat
dock provide access to the lake for campers here. A 120-foot floating
walkway connects the campground with the marina area as well.
you have a group, A Rent-A-Camp
site is available. The site has a two room cabin with bunkbeds. The site
can be reserved through ReserveAmerica. For those preferring a
more secluded spot with a scenic view of the lake, 10 walk-in sites are
available. A separate Youth Group Camp is available at the and
Trails and Campground
A 15-mile horse trail circles the lake, offering horse and rider a panorama
of natural beauty.
Also available for the equestrian is a
21-site campground with electricity, located on mile east of Omega.
The horse trail is open from May 1 to November 1.
There are four established nature trails for hiking enthusiasts. The Oak
Ridge Trail is a 2.5-mile loop trail located in the campground. For those
preferring shorter walks, the Marlow Pond Trail is half-mile long, the
Henneman Trail which guides the hiker to an early settlement cemetery
is only a quarter-mile long, or take the Phillips Creek Trail -- a quarter
mile with access to the lake.
2,000 acres of land are available for the hunter. Dove hunters will find
the specially planted sunflower fields to be very helpful in attracting
these birds. The heavily wooded areas also provide very good squirrel
hunting. Brushy draws and fence rows provide excellent habitat for upland
game such as quail and rabbit. Turkey and deer (bow only) hunting is also
available. For additional information see: Stephen Forbes Hunter
Fact Sheet | Wildcat Hollow Hunter Fact Sheet
Parr Biological Stations: In 1966, a building especially designed for
use as an aquatic research center was completed below the dam. This facility
is used by the Illinois Natural History Survey and includes a laboratory,
accommodations for graduate students and 26 drainable ponds. A variety
of aquatic biology and fisheries experiments are conducted year-round.
The lab is open to visitors Monday through Friday. Tours can be arranged
by calling the lab at (618) 245-6348
- 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 Commerce and Community
Affairs' 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.