Horseshoe Lake State Park

Horseshoe Lake State Park is a 2,960 acre state park found in the state of Illinois, United States. The state park surrounds Horseshoe Lake, so-called because of its shape like that of a large horseshoe. Horseshoe Lake is considered the second biggest natural lake and makes up almost 2,400 acres of the total area of Horseshoe Lake State Park. Hikers, campers and vacationing families will enjoy the breathtaking natural scenery and many outdoor recreational activities that the park has to offer.

Location

Horseshoe Lake State Park is located at Highway 111, Madison County in the southeastern part of Granite City, Illinois; it is conveniently found at about 10 miles northeast from St. Louis. The park is nestled on the American Bottom, a low-flood grassland which courses along the Mississippi River all the way to the Kentucky Border.

Historical Tidbits

Throughout history, many American Indian groups have settled around Horseshoe Lake. The earliest recorded human habitation in the area dates all the way back to 8000 B.C., in the Archaic Period. The lake was a rich-food source for the settlers, providing them with fish, vegetables, waterfowl and game. Ancient artifacts excavated from the site have been identified to be from the Woodland Period in 1000 B.C. to 1000 a.d.. It was during the Mississippian Period that a North American civilization began to rise near Cahokia. Cahokia became the convergence of political, social and trading activities and had about 30,000 to 40,000 inhabitants. The Cahokia Mounds, an elaborate burial practice, is characteristic of the area and even today, an earthen platform mound can be seen in the park.

Activities to Do in the Park

A wide variety of outdoor recreational activities may be enjoyed by tourists, families and campers who are visiting Horseshoe Lake State Park.

Picnics and Camping

The park provides adequate amenities and facilities to accommodate guests who want to picnic and camp out in the park grounds. Guests can conveniently enjoy picnics in any of the park’s five shelters. There are also other smaller locations scattered around the park may be used as outing venues. The park also has 2 volleyball courts, 3 playgrounds and adequate parking areas. The park’s campsite can accommodate almost 50 tents and trailer vans. Other park amenities include pit toilets, water hydrants and sanitary dumps. Interested campers must ask assistance from the park ranger for a camping permit.

Fishing

Fishing hobbyists will love the fact that the lake has a wide variety of fish such as bass, crappie, carp, buffalo and channel catfish. With the exception of the waterfowl season, boat fishing is permitted. Visitors can use any of the 3 boat ramps provided. There is also a fishing pier especially made accessible for handicapped guests.

Bird watching

Bird watching is another exciting activity that wildlife enthusiasts can enjoy at the park. Five bird watching areas are located along a 4-mile stretch of a self-guided trail. Horseshoe Lake State Park is considered a part of the National Audubon Society’s Great River Birding Trail. The park is said to be one of the best places to witness a diverse population of egrets and herons, with July and August as the best months to watch for Snowy Egrets and Little Blue Herons. During fall, many shorebirds like grebes, cormorants and loons can be seen at the park while winter is the best time to watch for a colorful diversity of gulls.

Other attractions

Horseshoe Lake State Park is also home to some fun and educational attractions. Guests will relish their historical experience at the Lewis and Clark Trail Site #1, the Cahokia Mounds Interpretative Center and the breathtaking scenery at the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway.

Contact Information

For more information on the park rules, necessary permits, reservations and other details, guests may contact the park at this number: 618-931-0270 or send an email to: dnr.horseshoemadison@illinois.gov