Sam Dale Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area - Illinois

US National Parks and Monuments Travel Guide:

Park Overview

Gently rolling terrain, lush woods and a beautiful lake make the Sam Dale Lake State Fish & Wildlife Area the perfect spot for a family outing. Located northwest of Johnsonville in Wayne County, this area has something for everyone: fishing, hunting, picnicking, camping and swimming. Visitors may see quail, rabbit, dove, squirrel, deer, muskrat, fox, raccoon, owls, turkey, hawk, woodstock, or beaver as they roam the timber or brushy fields of the park. The highlight of a visit here will be Sam Dale Lake, a beautiful 194 acre lake with eight and a half miles of shoreline to hike around, swim in, or just sit beside and enjoy. In addition, several smaller ponds are home to fish and wildlife.


The initial 40-acre piece of land was purchased in 1959. Since then, additional land has been added totaling 1,302 acres in the State Fish & Wildlife Area. The site was named for Sam O. Dale, an eight-term state representative who also served as a teacher, principal, and superintendent of schools in Hamilton County.


The long, narrow lake has many curves and fingers, making it an ideal setting for the avid fisherman. Species available include largemouth bass, bluegill, redear, crappie and channel catfish. There are two launching ramps, boat docks, several floating fishing docks and rental boats available. The motor limit is 10 hp. A concession stand sells fishing bait near the boat dock area. Ice fishing is also a popular event in the winter.


Two Class B/E campgrounds provide the overnight visitor with necessary amenities in a shady, secluded section of the park. These campsites have electricity and a sanitary dump station. One has a playground close by for small children. There are also tent and group camping areas, including a handicapped pad in one campground.


Hikers will delight at the sights and sounds along the 3.2 mile nature trail. It winds through the wooded area in a circular pattern with three major loops to follow. The trail skirts the lake for an easy side trip to the shore. A 1.6 mile trail from the group campground area to the dam winds along the lake.


A buoy-marked swimming area is available on the west side of the lake with a large beach area for sun-bathers. This is a "swim at your own risk" beach; no lifeguards are present. Swimmers under 17 must be accompanied by a responsible adult. The swimming area is open daily from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. No alcohol is allowed.


The tall, shady trees and plentiful flowers and greenery beckon many nature-lovers to the picnic areas at Sam Dale Lake. One of the picnic areas has shelter. Several picnic areas are available with tables, drinking fountains, and outdoor stoves. Playground equipment is nearby.


Sam Dale Lake is located in northwestern Wayne County. Coming North or South on I-57, take exit #109, turn East on Rt 161, travel approx. 22 miles, look for a large sign on the left for the entrance to Sam Dale Lake. If traveling from the East on Rt 50, turn South on Rt 45 to Cisne, turn West and travel approx. 8 mi. to site entrance sign. From the West on Rt 161, travel 22 miles east of Rt 37 to park entrance.


R.R.1, Johnsonville, IL 62850 -- 618.835.2292

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