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Illinois State Parks

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USA Parks
Central Region
Fox Ridge State Park
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Fox Ridge State Park © james d keigley
Fox Ridge State Park © james d keigley
Fox Ridge State Park © james d keigley
Fox Ridge State Park © james d keigley
Fox Ridge State Park © james d keigley
Fox Ridge State Park © james d keigley
Fox Ridge State Park © james d keigley
Fox Ridge State Park © james d keigley
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18175 State Park Road
Charleston, Illinois   61920

Phone: 217-345-6416
Reservations: 217-345-6416
Email: park email button icon
Fox Ridge State Park, just 8 miles south of Charleston in east-central Illinois is known for its steep, thickly wooded ridges, broad, lush valleys and miles of rugged, scenic hiking trails and covers 2,064 acres.

In sharp contrast to the flat prairies of most of this section of Illinois, Fox Ridge is set amidst rolling hills along the forested bluffs of the Embarras ("Ambraw") River.

At any time of year, Fox Ridge State Park is a great place to visit. In winter, the snow-softened ridges are alive with birds and animals. In the spring, a panoramic blanket of multi-hued wildflowers and blooming, budding trees celebrate the resurgence of growth. By summer the dense vegetation and new generation of wildlife are thriving in the sun, and autumn brings its brilliant display of color as nature enhances the woodlands with yellow, red, purple and orange.
History of the Area
Arrowheads and artifacts uncovered in this area indicate habitation by prehistoric Native American cultures. Early historic tribes included the Piankashaw and the Illinois, both of whom were pushed out when the Kickapoo migrated into the region from Wisconsin in the late 1600s.

European settlers in the area originally were centered around the Embarras River, which provided their main source of transportation, fishing, trapping, and, of course, water. Before the development of the railroad, much of the economy of the area also depended on the river, where flat boats carried livestock and manufacturing materials downstream to the Wabash, Ohio and Mississippi rivers and on to New Orleans and Gulf of Mexico.

In the late 1930s, the State of Illinois took over management and ownership of Fox Ridge, then a small parcel of land, and residents of the Charleston area helped preserve and develop it as a state park. The Civilian Conservation Corps constructed a residence/workshop complex, a Natural History Survey laboratory, 4 miles of hiking trails, a large brick pavilion and a dam and spillway which created the 12-acre Ridge Lake.

Ridge Lake, completed in 1941 and currently administered by the Illinois Natural History Survey in Urbana, is used for the study of lakes, ponds and streams to improve fishing in Illinois waters. Studies at the lake (the first at which Natural History Survey technicians were able to control the water level) have included investigations of the effects on resident fish populations of lake drawdowns, supplemental feeding of bluegill and channel catfish and introduction of supplemental predators such as the muskellunge and walleye. These constitute the most thorough and longest continuous fish studies in the United States.

To further enhance the development of the park, the Fox Ridge Foundation was founded and dedicated to the improvement and promotion of the area. Governed by local citizens interested in the park's future, the foundation sponsors several annual events, publishes a quarterly newsletter and organizes and administers fund drives for specific or general park improvements. Supported by the general public through membership dues and donations, the foundations is a tax-exempt charitable organization. For further information contact the park office or write to the Fox Ridge Foundation, P.O. Box 714, Charleston, IL, 61920.
 Hiking Trailyes
 Swimming Beachyes
 Bike Trailsyes
 Bridle Trailsyes
BoatingLaunch Rampsyes
For longer stays there is a Class A, 43 site, Camp area with showers, a group tent camp area, 3 "Rent-A-Camp" Cabins (with bunks for six, electricity, table, chairs and a deck). Picnic tables, cooking grills, drinking water, toilet facilities and a sanitary dumping stations are located in all campgrounds. The shower buildings are closed by November 1st (may be earlier if bad weather) and reopen May 1st (may be earlier - weather depending). Reservations are available.

Fox Ridge State Park is located near Charleston, Mattoon

For the day visitor there are many designated picnic areas scattered throughout the park, with tables and grills (ground fires are not permitted), rest rooms, 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 on a reservation basis. Please contact the park office.
Due to the rich, abundant plant and animal life in the park and its dramatic hills and bluffs, the eight miles of the meandering trail system is the natural focus for most visitors. Each of the ten connected trails has a descriptive marker at the entrance to assist you. Fox Ridge is a ravine of glacial moraine and many of these trails are steep, 18 picturesque wooden bridges and numerous rest benches make them easily negotiable. Turkey, deer, fox, squirrel, raccoon, rabbit, turkey vulture, hawk, owl, quail, pheasant and the lush foliage will make your journey both exciting and restful.

Eight separate but looping trails are located within the park. The looping trails allow you to extend or cut short you walk. You can expect to walk along the Embarras River, or through the decidious forest once common in the area. A four-mile horse trail, bring your own horse, no overnight facilities for horses (Horse trail closed from November 15 - April 15).

The staircase to Eagle's Nest has just been completed requiring 144 steps to get you to the deck overlooking the river, providing a wonderful view during the fall, winter and spring.

A fitness trail has just been refurbished offering another dimension to the trail system. Two handicapped accessible trails are available one wandering along the edge of a ravine and the other tours a small fishing pond with an accessible fishing pier.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
June 13 Beautiful scenery, yet so disappointed by Becky
park review stars; one to five We recently visited to ride the equestrian trail. When we got to the back of the park ( we drove about 1.5 miles back) there was a barricade across the road saying horse trails closed, leaving no room to turn the trailer around. No sign was visible from the road at the entrance at the visitors center, and the first sign pointing us in the direction of the trails did not tell us they were closed either. We were quite disappointed to have driven so far to have to turn around. I am wondering, are the horse trails even used anymore? There didnt seem to be any visible reason for it to be closed. :(
June 25 Very Pretty by Heather
park review stars; one to five Excellent place! Lots of trails in different types of areas. Through cool valleys, along the river, up on ridges. The brick pavilion is an awesome place for get-togethers. In fact, my husband and I were married there.
August 2 Great Park by Robin
park review stars; one to five Fox Ridge is in my back yard. I have many fond memories of going to the park as a child. I took my girls to the park often and walked the trails. I now take my grandkids. I love to go down by the river and look at all the different rocks. The kids love the mussel sheels. Great place to picnic if you bring sandwiches or use the park grills. A geart place to get away from it all.
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Nearby Hotels

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.

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Illinois State Parks