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  Middle Fork - State Fish & Wildlife Area   

East-Central Region

10906 Kickapoo Park Road
Oakwood, IL 61858
Picture of Middle Fork river
Site Map Fishing Natural Features
Archery Trail Hiking Picnicking
Area History Snowmobiling
Camping Horseback Riding Trap Range
Canoeing Hunting Wildlife Management
Cross Country Skiing    


The Area

The Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife Area is located 6 miles north of the Interstate 74 exit at Oakwood in Vermilion County. The area consists of 2,700 acres of grass, forest and cropland, and provides excellent wildlife habitat. The area is bounded on the east by Kennekuk Cove County Park and on the south by Illinois Power Company's Vermilion Station. The site received its name from the Middle Fork branch of the Vermilion River which flows between Kennekuk Cove County Park and Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife Area. The Middle Fork River passes out of the Middle Fork Wildlife Area into Kickapoo State Recreation Area about 10 miles downstream. At Kickapoo you can enjoy family camping, picnicking, fishing, boating, mountain biking and rent a horse for a short trail ride.


Much of the land which now makes up the Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife Area was purchased in the late 1960s and early 1970s, along with lands that now are parts of Kennekuk Cove County Park and Kickapoo State Park, for a 3,300-acre water supply and recreation reservoir. In 1977, the State concluded that it could not afford to fund the reservoir and discussions were initiated to determine alternative public uses of the land. In 1978, an agreement was reached between the State and Vermilion County Conservation District to trade lands in order to achieve contiguous and manageable land holdings. A management plan was completed the same year, designating the Middle Fork property as a State Fish & Wildlife Area. Land transfers placing the property under the management of the Department of Natural Resources were completed in 1986.


The Middle Fork River offers the angler opportunities for such species as smallmouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, crappie, channel catfish, walleye and bullhead. Access to the river is by footpaths at Kinney's Ford, Higginsville Bridge and Bunker Hill.


Large populations of upland game make the Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife Area popular with many hunters. Generally, federal and Illinois game regulations regarding seasons, bag limits and huntable species apply in all parts of the park. However, special regulations apply to some species. All hunters must register before hunting the area.  Hunter Fact Sheet

Picture of horsesTrails

There are 35 miles of marked scenic equestrian, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling trails in the Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife Area, and 9 miles of designated hiking trails are available at nearby Kickapoo State Park. All marked trails are accessible from the parking lot near the office at 2400N, just off Road 900E.


Public parking and canoe access to the Middle Fork River is provided at two locations. The Kinney's Ford access is located in the northern section of the facility and may be reached by driving 0.5 mile west of the 2620N/900E intersection. The Bunker Hill canoe access may be reached by driving east on the facility's south access road located at 2250N/900E. The west entrace bridge at Kickapoo State Park provides a canoe take-out point for these access areas. Camping is prohibited along the river, except in designated campgrounds.


Small day-use areas are located near the campgrounds, office and canoe accesses, providing picnic tables and rustic sanitary facilities. Canoeists, hikers and anglers also may prefer to picnic along the river or trails. Properly dispose of all litter. Shelters cannot be reserved, they are available on a first come-first serve basis.


The Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife area has Class C, D and equestrian camping facilities. Other classes of camping also are available at nearby Kickapoo State Park. The state park facilities are readily accessible from the Kickapoo canoe take-out point at the park's west entrance. Kickapoo is located 5 miles south of the Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife Area.

Trap Range and Archery Trail

To help hunters sharpen their skills and provide compatible recreational opportunities, a trap range and an archery trail have been constructed.

The trap range is located along road 2400N near the site office. It consists of two ranges with a table and bench. Throwers are not provided. Shot size No. 6 or smaller must be used. The range usually is open year-round.

The archery trail is located 0.25 miles west of intersection 2620N/900E. The trail includes 20 targets constructed in a loop through the woods, a tower for simulated tree stand shooting and a measured target. The use of broadhead tips is not allowed. The trail is open year-round.

Both ranges have picnic tables and rustic sanitary facilities available.

Wildlife Management Practices

The Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife Area has a planned wildlife program which includes a cropland lease agreement with local farmers. The program also emphasizes forestry practices compatible with good wildlife management.

Natural and Historic Features

RR Bridge over Middle ForkThe deep glacial till that composes the area accounts for the extensive entrenchment of the Middle Fork River. The prominent moraine involved is the Newtown loop of the Bloomington End Moraine. The rather rugged roll and cut of the land causes fairly quick drainage of the uplands. This, in turn, yields an upland of oak-hickory climax forest, although this basin is a part of the Wabash Border Division, which separates the grand prairie on the west from the beech-maple forest that covers much of the east.

The river is deemed by ecological research experts as one of the most pristine in the state and has been designated a National Wild and Scenic River. The lower reach, is almost entirely sand and gravel bottomed. Not only are there good populations of game fish such as smallmouth bass, crappie and channel catfish present, the Vermillion River system also is the only known habitat in Illinois of the bluebreast darter, an Illinois endangered species.

 The Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife Area is comprised of three elements: river flood plain, upland forest and upland fields. Some flood plains and upland fields are cropped. A well-balanced food chain exists from field mice and moles tocottontail rabbits, foxes, hawks and owls. Huntable populations exist of pheasant, quail, rabbit, squirrel, deer and furbearing mammals. Waterfowl, shorebirds, egrets and herons, are common in the bottomlands. The upland woods are frequented by warblers, vireos, and the most common songbirds. The elusive southeastern shrew also is found in the area.

The Middle Fork River was designated a State and National Scenic River in 1990, and includes, a 1,000-foot scenic corridor along the river. The scenic river designation begins at the northern boundary of the Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife Area and extends through Kennekuk Cove County Park, Illinois Power Company property and on through Kickapoo State Park, where it ends at the park's south boundary.

Areas of natural interest for photographers and wildlife watchers include Collison Creek Marsh, Indian Grass Prairie, Skunk Cabbage Seep and Orchid Hill, which is partially owned by Illinois Power Company.

  • 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.
  • 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.

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