Ferne Clyffe State Park has been known as an outstanding natural scenic spot for a century. An abundance of ferns, unique geological features and unusual plant communities create an atmosphere that enhances the many recreational facilities offered at the park. Trails wind through picturesque woods, allowing visitors to view fascinating rock formations and inspiring vistas. Ferne Clyffe also offers camping, picnicking, hiking, hunting and fishing.
Located on Illinois Route 37, just one mile south of Goreville and 12 miles south of Marion, the 2,430-acre Johnson County park is easily accessible from both I-57 and I-24.
Ferne Clyffe has a campground for every type of camper: modern, primitive, youth groups, backpack or equestrian. Shower facilities offered at some campgrounds are available seasonally.
Deer Ridge campground is a well-shaded Class A facility offering gravel pads with electricity, picnic tables and cooking grills. Drinking water, showers, flush toilets and a sanitary dump station complete the setting for campers who prefer to include a few comforts of home with their outdoor adventure.
Turkey Ridge is for campers who want a serene outdoor experience. It is a Class C walk-in campground that includes camp pads, picnic tables, cooking grills and showers. Drinking water and toilets are located near the parking lots.
Scouts, church groups and other youth groups will enjoy the Youth Group campground. This Class D facility is equipped with drinking water, picnic tables, cooking grills, toilets and parking. Groups of minors must have adequate supervision, with at least one adult accompanying each 15 minors.
Backpackers enjoying their commune with nature will appreciate the solitude of the individual campsites in the Class C Backpack campground. Located a half-mile from the Turkey Ridge primitive campground parking lot, these woodland sites have cooking grills, toilets and showers. Water and trash receptacles are available at the Turkey Ridge parking lot. You're reminded to be careful with your fires and to pack out what you pack in.
Horseback riders can ride directly to their own Class C Equestrian campground on the trail, or drive to it in their vehicles. Up to 25 riders can be accommodated at the site, which includes picnic tables, drinking water, cooking grills, toilets, parking and showers. The campground is well-shaded by an abundance of trees, and you must protect the trees by tying horses to the hitching rails. No horse rental is available.
Sites in the Deer Ridge, Turkey Ridge and Youth Group campgrounds do not require advance reservations. Backpackers and horseback riders should, however, make advance arrangements through the park office.
Fishing and Hunting
Bank fishermen will be impressed by Ferne Clyffe Lake's populations of largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish and redear in the lake. Hunters will appreciate the 1,750 acres of forested habitat, with good populations of deer and squirrel. Quail and rabbit populations are fair. Food patches are planted in open areas annually to enhance habitat for upland game species. Hunters must check in at the hunter check station (maintenance building) prior to hunting.
Ferne Clyffe Lake
Since 1960, the 16-acre Ferne Clyffe Lake has offered visitors additional recreational and scenic opportunities. The lake has a maximum depth of 22 feet, and a hiking trail is on the 1-mile shoreline. The lake is open to bank fishing, but boating and swimming are prohibited. Spectacular views of the lake can be seen from Lakeview Picnic Shelter and Blackjack Oak Trail.
Ferne Clyffe has been a favorite picnic spot for decades. Seven picnic areas have tables, cooking grills, parking and toilets, and several also have shelters, drinking water and playground equipment. Only park grills or personal cook-stoves should be used for cooking.
Eighteen diverse trails offer visitors the chance to view the beauty of Ferne Clyffe at their own pace. Motorized vehicles and bicycles are not permitted on the trails. Equestrian use is allowed on equestrian designated trails. Equestrian trails are closed to horses from November 1 to April 30. Naturally occurring dangerous areas exist within the park, so hike on designated trails, exercise awareness and caution. Each trail has been assigned a number, as well as a name, to make map reading easy for even the novice hiker.
Round Bluff Nature Preserve
Just south of the Lakeview Picnic Shelter is the 53-acre Round Bluff Nature Preserve. This area is a marvelous mix of unique geological features and unusual plant communities. Each season brings its own beauty to the area, but spring and fall are the most colorful seasons. Dutchman's breeches, trillum, spring beauty, trout lily and other woodland wildflowers add vibrant color to the ground cover in the spring. Fall's colder temperatures change the deep greens of the summer tree foliage to a spectacular mix of reds, purples, golds and browns that cover every hillside. Within the preserve, hiking is restricted to marked trails only. All plants and animals within the preserve are protected by law.
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