Description - *This information was provided by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources*
In southeastern Illinois midway between Olney and Lawrenceville on U.S. 50, Red Hills is a carefully preserved and maintained 948-acres of high wooded hills, deep ravines, captivating meadows and year-round springs. It's the perfect setting for natural relaxation and outdoor activities. The sparkling 40-acre lake is ideal for fishing and boating.
Dominated by Red Hill itself -- the highest point of land between St. Louis and Cincinnati -- and the 120-foot tower and cross rising from its summit, this unspoiled sanctuary from everyday life provides a great opportunity to relax and rediscover nature.
An open-air tabernacle at the base of the tower -- financed and constructed by area residents cooperating with an interdenominational council -- services are held on Sunday evening during the summer. A popular activity since 1943 has been the annual Easter sunrise services.
A satellite area of the park, the 565-acre Chauncey Marsh Nature Preserve, contains the best remaining example of what is called a Wabash Border Marsh Ecosystem, with marshes, dry and wet prairie, lush bottomland forest and thriving riverline communities. During late July and early August beautiful pink and white hibiscus and hairy rose mallow are in bloom.
Veterans' Point is a one-quarter acre parcel of land that is available to local veteran groups to honor ex-servicemen of all wars and to provide a place for their gatherings.
The park is an important historical crossroad, the western most edge of the first land in Illinois ceded by Native Americans to the United States. The borderline runs through the park from southwest to northeast, and was set by a treaty made in 1795 at Greenville, Ohio, by General Anthony Wayne whereby Native Americans relinquished all claims to the land northwest of the Ohio River and east of a specified line. The area was called Vincennes Tract. The western boundary running through the park was known as the Indian boundary line and is marked by decided jogs which corresponded to the original survey line.
The area was bisected by the Old Cahokia Trace, commonly known as the "Trace Road," which ran east and west just north of what is now U.S. 50, and was for many years the principal route from historic Vincennes, IN, to St. Louis and the west.
A dam constructed across Muddy Creek, a tributary of the Embarras (pronounced "Ambraw") River in 1953 created the 40-acre lake with a maximum depth of 30 feet and 2.5 miles of shoreline.
Since then, the park has grown to its present size, and development and improvement of its recreational facilities has been continuous.
For longer stays, there are more than 100 Class A campsites with vehicular access that provide electricity, a sanitary dump station, water and access to a modern handicapped-accessible building with showers and flush toilets. Some sites are pull-through with 50 amp service.
Handicapped sites are also available. In addition, there is a primitive tent camping area, rent-a-camp cabin, an equestrian campground and, in the North Park, a youth group tent camping area. Camping permits must be obtained from the park staff.
Eight miles of refreshing, scenic trails of moderate difficulty wind through the park, where the vibrant colors of redheaded woodpeckers, bluejays and wild canaries can be seen.
The Trace Inn is named for the Cahokia Trace. The restaurant provides seating for 100, and is open year-round. A beautiful canopied deck for warm weather dining is a popular attraction. It also offers a scenic overlook of Red Hills Lake. The restaurant is furnished with maple tables and chairs and the rustic atmosphere is enhanced with antiques. Visitors to the Trace Inn will also enjoy a unique craft and collectibles shop. For more information call (618) 936-2351.
Recreation - Picnicking-
For family outings, what better way to spend a day than to have a picnic. Red Hills has pleasant, shaded picnic areas throughout the park, with tables and grills. There are three picnic shelters for large gatherings, two reservable and one first-come, first-serve, and six playgrounds for the kids. All areas are convenient to parking lots. Facilities are handicapped accessible.
For the intermediate hiker, Indian Treaty, Robin, Valley Springs and Tulip trail loops overlap each other on the hilly north side of U.S. Route 50 for about 3 miles. There is also a 5-mile trail for horseback riding and bicycling when soil conditions permit.
There also is a five-mile equestrian trail for horseback riding when soil conditions permit. A Class C equestrian campground is available.
Fishing and Boating-
A paved road circles the lake, and bank fishing for largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappie, bluegill and bullhead is very popular.
A boat launch is available or you can rent a boat from the concession. However, gas motors are not allowed.
In the winter months, when the ice is thick enough, you can go ice fishing and enjoy ice skating on the lake. There are also sledding opportunities.
Squirrel, dove, woodcock, quail and rabbit are plentiful in season. Archery deer hunting is also permitted. There is a check station where all hunters must check in and out. Consult the park staff for specific information about shooting times and opening dates.
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.
Red Hills State Park is located in Lawrence County on US Rt #50 between Olney and Lawrenceville near the town of Sumner.
From US Rt #41 at Vincennes, Indiana, the park is located 18 miles west on Rt. 50.
From the junction of I-57 and Rt. 50 at Salem the park is located 65 miles east.
From the junction of IL Rt 1 and Rt. 50 at Lawrenceville the park is 8 miles west.
From Chicago take I-57 to Mattoon. Go east on Rt. 16 to Charleston, then take Rt. 130 south to Olney, and travel east on Rt. 50 to the park.