Description - *This information was provided by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources*
It seems appropriate for the largest campground in the Illinois state park system to be located on the largest manmade lake in Illinois. Eldon Hazlet State Recreation Area is a 3,000-acre site on the west shore of Carlyle Lake, a Kaskaskia River impoundment. The site is located 3 miles north of Carlyle and 2 miles east of Illinois Route 127 in Clinton County.
The site is leased by the Department of Natural Resources from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which built the 26,000-acre lake. It is named for a Carlyle attorney who organized the Kaskaskia Valley Association. Eldon Hazlet was the first president of the organization, which promoted construction of two of Illinois’ three largest reservoir/recreational complexes - Carlyle Lake and Lake Shelbyville - plus other improvements on the Kaskaskia River.
Annually, more than 800,000 visitors come to the park to camp, boat, fish, hunt, picnic, bird watch and to hike over 9 miles of trails in the park, or attend the sailboat regattas held almost every summer weekend. Whatever type of recreation you choose, it’s probably offered at Carlyle Lake.
Eldon Hazlet State Recreation Area is probably best known for its camping facilities. The Illini Campground has 328 Class A campsites with 30 and 50 amp electrical hook-ups, 36 Class C campsites for walk-in tent camping and two rustic rent-a-cabins.
Seven Class A campsites are accessible to individuals in wheelchairs. The campground occupies almost 1 1/2 miles of the Carlyle Lake shoreline, and most of the campsites are within easy reach of the water. Many campers keep their boats in the coves located along the campground.
Three shower buildings are located in the campground, plus numerous privy toilets. Recreational amenities include several sets of playground equipment, a basketball court, a sand volleyball court, horseshoe pits, an amphitheater, and hiking trails. Plenty of parking is available for vehicles and boat trailers. To register for a campsite see one of the campground hosts or a site security officer.
Reservations can be made for Class A sites 1 -65. Reservations are accepted by mail only in January and starting in February, by mail or in-person for the remainder of the year. A maximum of six reservations per person, per envelope are accepted. A non-refundable fee of $5 plus the first night's camping fee must be included with the reservation. Contact the park office for further information at 618-594-3015.
The Eldon Hazlet Campground Store, located at the entrance to the Illini Campground, is a 2,000 square foot store with contains groceries, camping and fishing supplies, clothes, live bait, ice and fire wood. A public laundry room and outdoor patio are also available. Please call the store at 618/594-3387 for hours of operation.
Youth group camping is available at the Osage Youth Group Area. With easy access to the lake and plenty of hiking trails, this area is a favorite of Scout and Church groups. The campground has a picnic shelter, privy toilets and drinking water. Although the area is not reservable, it is very large and can accommodate hundreds of campers. Youth groups may schedule nature hikes or interpretive programs by calling the site interpreter.
Twenty lakefront cottages are available for rent in the park. The cottages are located on the Carlyle Lake shoreline offering a spectacular view of the lake. The 780 square foot units contain a kitchenette, bar, living area, bedroom, loft and deck. The kitchenette is equipped with stove, refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker and sink. Other amenities include cable tv, linens, and cookware. Twelve complimentary boat docks are available to cottage renters upon request. For more information on prices and availability, please call 1-877-342-8862 or 618-594-3386.
Wildlife abounds at Eldon Hazlet, in part due to the natural resource management program implemented at the park. Various types of warm season grasses and legumes are planted to provide supplemental cover and food for wildlife. Brush piles and nest structures such as bluebird boxes have been placed throughout the park. The restoration of natural habitats such as prairie and wetlands has also benefited the local wildlife populations.
Across from the site office, a 3-acre tallgrass prairie can be viewed with more than 50 species of native plants. Numerous species of wildflowers bloom in the summer including compass plant, blazing star, purple coneflowers, rattlesnake master, American feverfew and stiff tickseed.
Deer, red foxes, raccoons, squirrels, woodchucks, quail, doves and songbirds, including bluebirds, are among the wildlife species to be seen. More than 200,000 waterfowl stop at the lake on their migratory travels north and south each year and can be seen from the park. Along with waterfowl, other types of birds commonly seen at the park include wading birds such as herons and egrets, shorebirds, songbirds and raptors.
Eight picnic areas are available in the park, all of which are located near the lake. Tables and grills are provided at all of the picnic areas, and five of the areas have electricity-equipped shelters that can be reserved either by mail or in-person. The largest is a 40-by-80-foot shelter located at the Olympic Festival Day Use Area. A fee is required to reserve shelters.
Recreation - Swimming Pool-
A public swimming pool is located behind the campground store. The pool is open form Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. With a zero entry to 4 1/2 foot depth and staffed by a lifeguard, the pool is ideal for families with small children. Maximum capacity is 450 swimmers.
A combination of wide open water, low surrounding terrain and strong winds provide conditions which make Carlyle Lake one of the Midwest’s most popular sailing lakes. Regional and national regattas are held here, and in 1994 the sailing competition of the US Olympic Festival games was hosted by Eldon Hazlet State Park and the Carlyle Sailing Association.
A 40-acre sailboat harbor, protected in a deep inlet, is at the south end of the park. It is operated as a land-based marina, meaning all boats are stored on land. The sailboat harbor is leased from the park by the Carlyle Sailing Association (CSA), which operates it as a concession for members. However, non-members may launch boats there by paying a fee.
In addition to boat launching privileges, payment of the fee entitles the non-member to use all of the harbor’s other facilities. They include showers, picnic tables, play equipment, day-use docks, and a large shelter with electricity and a barbecue pit. Also, when slots are available, parking privileges in the harbor’s members-only overnight boat parking area may be extended to non-members who are staying several days at the park and who pay the launching fee.
The harbor complex has both a conventional boat launching ramp and three electric hoists which can place sailboats up to 2,000 pounds - in the 16- to 18-foot range - in the water from the harbor wall. For additional information, contact the harbor master at (618)594-3622 or visit their web site at www.csa-sailing.org
Because of its central location relative to the lake, the park is a great place to launch a boat. Three boat ramps are available to the public free of charge. Allen Branch Day Use Area is one of the most popular boat launching spots on the lake. It offers a four-lane boat ramp with a handicapped accessible courtesy dock, plus two picnic shelters and privy toilets. Apache Day Use Area has a two-lane ramp, picnic shelter, play equipment, fish cleaning station and privy toilets. Peppenhorst Branch has a graveled small-boat ramp used by anglers and hunters.
More than 9 miles of trails are available to hikers at Eldon Hazlet. The 3-mile Cherokee Trail has three separate loops that pass through a mature oak-hickory forest over gently rolling terrain, offering great views of the lake. The Pawnee Trail is a 1-mile loop trail that runs along the highest point on Carlyle Lake. Both the Cherokee and Pawnee trails lead to Burnside Cemetery, a restored cemetery with tombstones that date to the 1830s.
The Kaskaskian Trail is a 2 1/2-mile loop trail that begins at the park office and passes by the youth campground, the Pawnee Trail, various day use areas and the Eagle trail, a 3/4-mile loop near the north end of Illini Campground. A 1/4 -mile accessible interpretive trail is located within the 3-acre prairie restoration directly across from the park office. The 1-mile Illini Trail is located across from the Campground Store and loops around the Illini Fishing Pond. All trails are closed Wednesday through Sunday during pheasant season.
Certainly one of the most popular activities at Carlyle Lake is fishing. More than 30 species of fish occur at the lake, including such local favorites as white bass, channel catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, bluegill, carp and buffalo. Bank fishing is allowed anywhere in the park. The Allen Branch area is most often used and offers an accessible fishing pier. A fish cleaning station (also accessible) is located at Apache Boat Ramp.
Illini Pond is a 4-acre fishing pond with a walk-out pier and is located across from the Campground Store on the Illini Trail. The lake is stocked with bass, bluegill and catfish and provides easy fishing opportunities for children of all ages.
The park has more than 50 acres designated for archery deer hunting, dove hunting, and upland game hunting. In addition, a controlled pheasant hunting program is held every year at the park, usually from early November to early January. Advance permits and controlled pheasant hunting information is available on-line at lrsidnrpermits.com. Eldon Hazlet can accommodate 125 hunters per day, Wednesday through Sunday.
The park also offers pheasant hunting and archery deer hunting opportunities for disabled hunters. For more information and site specific regulations on hunting, please contact the park office at 618/594-3015.
An archery range with an elevated platform is located in the park and is open all year except during the controlled pheasant season.
Climate - Illinois experiences four distinct seasons with varying weather throughout the year. Winter can be very cold. The highest humidity of the year occurs during this season averaging 70 to 75 percent. Average low temperatures in January dip to 20 degrees F with highs near 35 degrees F. Spring temperatures are mild with humidity below 70 percent. Temperatures during this season average between 32 and 50 degrees F. Summer is usually hot and humid in this Midwest state. Low temperatures remain in the low sixties with high temperatures near 90 degrees F. The highest rainfall of the year occurs during the summer months. Fall is an excellent time to visit the state with low humidity and rainfall and moderate temperatures.
The site is located 3 miles north of Carlyle and 2 miles east of Illinois Route 127 in Clinton County.