Clyffe has been known as an outstanding natural scenic spot for nearly
100 years. An abundance of ferns, unique geological features and unusual
plant communities create an atmosphere that enhances the many recreational
facilities offered at the park. Trails wind through picturesque woods,
allowing visitors to view fascinating rock formations and inspiring vistas. Ferne Clyffe also offers camping, picnicking, hiking, hunting and fishing.
on Illinois Route 37, just one mile south of Goreville and 12 miles south
of Marion, the 2,430-acre Johnson County park is easily accessible from both I-57 and
Rogers Clark and his contingent purportedly passed through or near Ferne
Clyffe on their trip to Fort Kaskaskia in 1778. One hundred years later,
the Cherokee reportedly used the area as their hunting range
while on their Trail of Tears march.
Cairo brothers purchased a part of the park known today as Hawks' Cave/Big
Rocky Hollow in 1899 and called it Ferne Clyffe because of the ferns that
grew in such abundance. The area soon became known for its beauty and
was eventually sold to Miss Emma Rebman, a local school teacher and Johnson
County school superintendent. Miss Rebman opened the park to the public
on Sundays for a 10-cent admission. Ferne Clyffe soon became a popular
attraction, and local entrepreneurs began to provide transportation from
the Goreville train depot for an additional 10 cents.
1929, Miss Rebman offered to sell the park to the state of Illinois. Additional
efforts by conservation and political groups, such as the Greater Egypt
Association and the Illinois Redevelopment Board, resulted in the state's
purchase of Miss Rebman's 140 acres in 1949.
Ferne Clyffe State Park covers 2,430 acres of the majestic Shawnee Hills
and is visited by more than 200,000 nature lovers each year.
rock formations can be seen from almost all of the park trails, but two
of the best-known sights are Hawks' Cave, a 150-foot-long shelter bluff,
and a 100-foot-tall intermittent waterfall on the Big Rocky Hollow trail.
would be nearly impossible to list all of the plant life that thrives
in the park--there are more than 700 species! Flowering dogwood, redbud,
serviceberry, spicebush, sumac, sweetgum, maple, oak, hickory and some
of the woodland wildflowers create an extraordinary color backdrop for
recreational activities in the spring and fall. Late April and early May
are particularly good times for viewing the springtime color show. Fall
foliage is at its best in October.
Walking the trails you can expect to see squirrels, rabbits, doves,
quail, and bluebirds and other songbirds, and an occasional wild turkey.
and Hunting | More Info |
fishermen will be impressed by Ferne Clyffe Lake's populations of largemouth bass, bluegill,
channel catfish and redear in the lake.
will appreciate the 1,750 acres of forested habitat, with good populations
of deer and squirrel. Quail and rabbit populations are fair.
Food patches are planted in open areas annually to enhance habitat
for upland game species. Hunters must check in at the hunter check station
(maintenance building) prior to hunting.
Bluff | Cypress
Pond | Ferne
Clyffe | Skinner
Farm Habitat Area | Deer
Pond | Wise Ridge
1960, the 16-acre Ferne Clyffe Lake has offered visitors additional recreational
and scenic opportunities. The lake has a maximum depth of 22 feet,
and a hiking trail encompasses the 1-mile shoreline. It is open
to bank fishing, but boating and swimming are prohibited. Spectacular
views of the lake can be seen from Lakeview Picnic Shelter and Blackjack
Clyffe has been a favorite picnic spot for decades. Seven
picnic areas, have tables, cooking grills, parking and toilets, and several also have shelters, drinking water and playground equipment.
Only park grills or personal cookstoves should be used for cooking fires
to avoid the possibility of damaging the site.
| More Info
Clyffe has a campground for every type of camper: modern, primitive,
youth groups, backpack or equestrian. Shower facilities offered at some campgrounds are available seasonally.
Ridge campground is a well-shaded Class A facility offering gravel
pads with electricity, picnic tables and cooking grills. Drinking
water, showers, flush toilets and a sanitary dump station complete the
setting for campers who prefer to include a few comforts of home with
their outdoor adventure.
Ridge is for campers who want a serene outdoor experience. It
is a Class C walk-in campground that includes camp pads, picnic tables,
cooking grills and showers. Drinking water and toilets are located
near the parking lots.
church groups and other youth groups will enjoy the Youth Group campground.
This Class D facility is equipped with drinking water, picnic tables,
cooking grills, toilets and parking. Groups of minors must have
adequate supervision, with at least one adult accompanying each
enjoying their commune with nature will appreciate the solitude of the
individual campsites in the Class C Backpack campground. Located
a half-mile from the Turkey Ridge primitive campground parking lot, these
woodland sites have cooking grills, toilets and showers. Water and
trash receptacles are available at the Turkey Ridge parking lot.
You're reminded to be careful with your fires and to pack out what you
riders can ride directly to their own Class C Equestrian campground on
the trail, or drive to it in their vehicles. Up to 25 riders can
be accommodated at the site, which includes picnic tables, drinking water,
cooking grills, toilets, parking and showers. The campground is
well-shaded by an abundance of trees, and you must protect the trees by
tying horses to the hitching rails. No horse rental is available.
in the Deer Ridge, Turkey Ridge and Youth Group campgrounds do not require
advance reservations. Backpackers and horseback riders should, however,
make advance arrangements through the park office.
diverse trails offer visitors the chance to view the beauty of Ferne Clyffe
at their own pace. Motorized
vehicles and bicycles are not permitted on the trails. Equestrian use is allowed on
equestrian designated trails. Equestrian trails are closed to horses
from November 1 to April 30. Naturally occurring dangerous areas
exist within the park, so hike on designated trails, exercise awareness and caution. Each trail
has been assigned a number, as well as a name, to make map reading easy
for even the novice hiker. Trails
| Site Map
Bluff Nature Preserve
south of the Lakeview Picnic Shelter is the 53-acre Round Bluff Nature
Preserve. This area is a marvelous mix of unique geological features and
unusual plant communities. Each season brings its own beauty to the area,
but spring and fall are the most colorful seasons. Dutchman's breeches,
trillum, spring beauty, trout lily and other woodland wildflowers add
vibrant color to the ground cover in the spring. Fall's colder temperatures
change the deep greens of the summer tree foliage to a spectacular mix
of reds, purples, golds and browns that cover every hillside.
the preserve, hiking is restricted to marked trails only. All plants and
animals within the preserve are protected by law.
Surrounding Area Attractions
Clyffe State Park can be reached from I-57 and I-24. The park is well
signed from both interstate highways. If traveling south on I-57, take
the Goreville exit, #40, approximately 12 miles south of Marion, IL At
exit #40 turn left (east), go 5 miles to IL Rt. 37. Turn right (south)
on Rt. 37, you will see the park entrance 1 mile south of Goreville. Traveling
north on I-57, take exit #40, Goreville, turn right (east), go 5 miles
to IL. Rt. 37, turn right (south) on IL Rt. 37 and you will see the park
entrance 1 mile south of Goreville. If traveling on I-24, take exit #7
(Goreville), turn west and go 2 miles to IL Rt. 37, turn left (south)
and go ½ mile to park entrance.
- 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.