Clinton Lake State Recreation Area
Open: Open all year
Number of Sites: 308
Number of Sites with Electric: 308
If you’re looking for the ideal place to drop your line and catch a record fish, look no farther than Clinton Lake State Recreation Area. Recreational opportunities abound at this 9,300-acre facility, just 3 miles east of Clinton in central Illinois. From picnicking, hiking and camping to swimming, water skiing and boating to hunting for upland game, people from all over the Midwest flock to Clinton Lake to enjoy the great outdoors.
The 4,900-acre lake is what draws people to the park. The fishing is outstanding. There are special piers at the Mascoutin Access Area, the Spillway Access Area and the Valley Mill Bank Fishing Area for the disabled. If you’re dropping your line here, chances are you’re fishing for crappie. Hook them with white, yellow, or chartreuse jigs and minnows, which seem to work the best.
Clinton Lake is No Wake for all boats from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise with the exception of waterfowl hunters. There are no horsepower limitations in the lake’s main basin, however. Sailboating is popular. When the wind gets up, the lake can be very rough. Small watercraft are urged to stick to the north fork arm of Salt Creek on rough days. There are six public boat ramps and one canoe launch. All IDNR ramps are now equipped with wheelchair accessible boat docks.
Swimming & Water Skiing
A beautiful, 1,000-foot white sand beach awaits swimmers and sunbathers looking to catch some rays or frolic in the warm waters of the lake. The beach is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, 10:00 am to 7:00 pm , 7 days per week, weather permitting. There is a changing facility with showers and restrooms. There are no lifeguards. Please remain in the buoyed areas and swim with caution. No pets, glass, or sharp objects are allowed on the beach. No alcohol is allowed in beach area.
Waterskiing here is a blast and is permitted from the Route 54 bridge to the Route 48 bridge. Beach fees are $1 per day per person. Swimming is also allowed in other areas of the lake but is not allowed within 100 yards of bridges, boat ramps, or boat docks.
If just getting out and about is your interest, try the park’s three hiking trails. The 5 mile Houseboat Cove Trail north of the beach follows the shoreline and comes back through the woods. It is easy to moderate in difficulty. The 9.3 mile North Fork Trail is more challenging. It runs through the steeply wooded banks of the lake, but provides unparalleled views of the lake and opportunities to view wildlife. There are no exits anywhere, so be prepared for 4.2 miles up and 5.1 miles back. There’s also a 40-acre restored prairie along the North Fork, but beautiful wildflowers can be seen along both trails. A ten mile equestrian/hiking/cross-county ski trail is located on the north side of the lake east of the Parnell Access Area. Horse trailer parking is at that location. The area is now equipped with a wheelchair ramp for mounting horses. All equestrian trails are closed to horses from Oct. 1 to the end of archery deer season.
Day use areas are located around the lake with tables, stoves, water, playground equipment and toilet facilities. They are all accessible to the disabled. Shelters are available at the Mascoutin, Weldon, Lane, West Side and Penninsula access area. Mascoutin, Weldon and Peninsula have electricity. Weldon also has an open, grassy area along the shoreline for softball or fishing. A nearby wooded picnic area provides shaded protection during those long, hot summer days. The West Side Penninsula and Mascoutin areas have great views of the lake. Shelters may be reserved for a fee by calling the park office.
More than 2,900 huntable acres are available at Clinton Lake. The most common species are rabbit, pheasant, squirrel and dove, although quail and woodcock also are hunted. Deer can be taken in season by archery only. Limited muzzle loading deer hunting and shotgun turkey hunting is also available. Waterfowl hunting is permitted on the main lake basin from anchored boat blinds only. Walk in waterfowl hunting is permitted from numbered posts located north of the IL Rt. 54 bridge and east of the bridge at the Parnell Boat Access Area. All hunters must obtain a free permit from the park office. Try the archery range, complete with a shooting tower, just east of the North Fork boat access area where you can take aim at life-size targets of deer and turkey. Some of the targets are now accessible to wheelchair bound archers. An area near the site office is being developed for wheelchair accessible waterfowl, forest and upland game hunters.
Currently there are no reviews of this campground.