Visitors Guide to the
Horseshoe Lake
State Fish & Wildlife Area
Illinois Route 3
Miller City, Illinois

Accessible Parking Picnic Facilities Hiking Trails Wildlife Viewing Accessible Information Center Fishing Opportunities Boat Ramp Accessible Hunting Opportunities Accessible Restrooms


Horseshoe Lake State Fish & Wildlife Area is a 10,200 acre area that includes a 2,400 acre shallow oxbow lake located seven miles north of Cairo and the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers in the southernmost region of Illinois. Visitors may be reminded of the Deep South with the abundance of bald cypress, tupelo gum, swamp cottonwood trees, and wild lotus. Native southern hardwood forests are abundant, and two large, undisturbed tracts have been dedicated as Illinois Nature Preserves. These preserves are open to visitors, but are also used for scientific research and education. The first 49 acres of the park were purchased by the Illinois Department of Conservation in 1927 for development as a Canadian Goose sanctuary. Additional tracts of land, including Horseshoe Island, were added over the years. Canadian geese began wintering at the site in 1928. The original 1,000 birds increased to a population of more than 40,000 by 1944. Today, up to 150,000 Canada geese winter at the site, thanks to improved refuge management and harvest controls.

Horseshoe Lake is an oxbow lake which is a remnant of a large meander of a channel Mississippi River. After the river changed course it left behind a shallow, isolated patch of water. With its large stands of beautiful trees around its 20 mile shoreline, Horseshoe Lake is a scenic body of water. Much of the lake resembles a swamp or bayou and since 1930, when a concrete, fixed spillway was constructed, the lake has maintained a constant four-foot depth.

Picnicking four picnic areas located around the park. Each site includes picnic tables, park stoves and parking. Visitors with children might appreciate the playground located at the picnic area near the spillway. There are also 38 Class A camping sites with electricity and showers, 40 Class B/E camping sites with electricity only, and 10 Class C sites available for overnight guests.

  Bird Watching
Horseshoe Lake State Fish & Wildlife Area
is listed on the National Audubon Society's Great River Birding Trail. The site is a good one for observing not only Canada Geese in winter but also other waterfowl as well as Bald Eagles. In the warmer months, expect to see wading birds and typical forest dwellers typical of bottomland hardwood forests.
  Visiting the Horseshoe Lake State Fish & Wildlife Area
          Dawn - Dusk

There is no charge to visit the Horseshoe Lake State Fish & Wildlife Area.
Directions: Horseshoe Lake State Fish & Wildlife Area is located in Alexander County just east of IL- 3 seven miles north of Cairo.
  GPS Coordinates
37 08.977'
W 89 19.645'
  Learn more about the Alexander County area.  
  Horseshoe Lake State Fish & Wildlife Area
The official website of the
Horseshoe Lake State Fish & Wildlife Area maintained by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
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