Description - *This information was provided by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources*
Carlyle Lake, which at 26,000 acres is the largest manmade reservoir in Illinois, is home to South Shore State Park. Located on land leased by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the 3-mile-long park is situated on the lake's southeast side, approximately 3 miles east of the city of Carlyle on Illinois Route 50.
Managed to preserve its natural and cultural resources, the park also provides recreational opportunities, including small-boat access, a Class C campground with vehicular access, five day-use areas for picnicking, two 3/4-mile hiking trails that also are used periodically as a 3-D archery ranges, as well as outstanding bank-fishing opportunities. Observing wildlife, especially white-tailed deer, is another popular activity.
- Natural Features-
South Shore State Park is host to many wildlife species. In addition to deer, the park is inhabited by red foxes, raccoons, squirrels, woodchucks, quail, doves and songbirds, including bluebirds. Bluebird boxes, other nest structures and brush piles have been placed throughout the park. Local wildlife populations also benefit from the restoration of native prairie grasses along the park's roadways. More than 200,000 waterfowl stop at the lake on their migratory travels north and south each winter. Along with waterfowl, other types of birds commonly seen at the park include herons and egrets, shorebirds, songbirds and raptors.
Hickory Hollow Campground features vehicular access for 33 tents or trailers, with a sanitary disposal station located nearby. Neither electricity nor showers are available to campers. With its position along Carlyle Lake, the campgound offers tremendous lake views and allows many campers to keep their boats in the protected coves of the campground's shoreline. All campers must obtain a permit from park staff before entering the campground. Hickory Hollow is an alcohol-free campground.
Recreation - Picnicking-
Roads wind through the park to various access points and to five day-use areas, which are well equipped with tables and grills. Bluebell and Crappie Cove picnic areas have shelters to accommodate large family reunions and other gatherings, with groups of 25 or more people needing to obtain advance permission from the park office. Water fountains and toilet facilities are conveniently located. There is no concession stand.
Many of the access areas have been riprapped to protect the shores from erosion. These areas also provide good fishing spots. Anglers can catch crappie, largemouth bass, white bass, walleye, bluegill, sunfish, channel catfish, carp and suckers.
A boat-launching area for small boats is found at the Deer Run Access Area, located at the northern part of the park. Immediately adjacent to the park is a large-boat ramp operated by the Corps of Engineers. No boat rental is available within the park. Motor size is not limited and sailboats are welcome on the lake.
In conjunction with a local archery club, correctional inmate work crews and site staff, two separate 3/4-mile trails were developed for public use. The local archery club holds 3-D archery shoots on the trails several times during the year. Otherwise, the trails are open to the public for other activities such as hiking and birdwatching. As their names describe, the Whitetail Trail and the Big Buck Trail offer great opportunities for watching deer and other wildlife. The trail system is adjacent to the Crappie Cove picnic area.
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 3-mile-long park is situated on the lake's southeast side, approximately 3 miles east of the city of Carlyle on Illinois Route 50.