Woodford State Fish and Wildlife Area is a picturesque area along the east side of the Illinois River. Among its features are many artesian wells, which make the manmade channels an excellent winter fishing area. The 2,900-acre site, of which 2,462-acres are water, is a favorite stopping point for waterfowl during migration.
The area comprises bottomland forest and backwater lakes of the Illinois River and features a wide variety of fauna and flora. Cottonwood, silver maple and willow cover much of the low-lying land. Deer, raccoon, muskrat, mink and beaver find this habitat to their liking and sometimes can be observed at dawn and dusk. Tall and stately great blue herons also are found in large numbers on the backwaters, and during winter it is not unusual to see a bald eagle soring above the frozen lakes or perched atop a snag.
A major waterfowl refuge of 1,400 acres exists on the area. While less attractive to wildlife due to heavy siltation in recent years, backwater lakes still attract large flights of waterfowl during migration. However, only wood ducks and Canada geese commonly nest and raise their young here. Hawks and owls, especially barred owls, are common to the area, as are an assortment of songbirds and woodpeckers.
The site provides boat docks and a public boat ramp. There is no horsepower limit. Large boats are unable to navigate the shallow backwater lakes.
Sites for tents and trailers are provided. Water pit privies and a sanitary dump station are available. Due to periodic flooding of the Illinois River, it is advisable to call ahead and check on conditions before you visit.
The fishing water consists of a broad expanse of the Illinois River known as Upper Peoria Lake and Goose Lake, plus 3,475 feet of manmade fishing channels. These channels provide excellent bullhead and crappie fishing in the late winter and early spring because the wells keep the channels free from ice.
Squirrel hunting is allowed and designated blind sites are offered for waterfowl hunting.
The area provides a day-use area with picnic tables, stoves and a shelter.
More than 3 miles of marked trails are available for hiking, cross-country skiing and hunter access from January 1st through October 1st. Because the trail area is composed of levees used as a waterfowl management area, trails are closed during fall migration. No bicycles or other vehicles are allowed on the trails.
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