Have you ever been to Ferne Clyffe and drove right past the lake on your way to the popular Ferne Clyffe Waterfall Trail?
You are definitely not alone. Many often overlook the Ferne Clyffe Lake trail that is tucked away on the edges of one of the few lake hikes in Southern Illinois.
Where to Go?
When coming to the first stop sign in the park make a left and head downhill. Near the bottom of the road is a small parking area on the left. Interestingly enough, this is one of two trails that you first pass while entering the park.
Across the street resides one of the two trailheads for the Blackjack Oak trail. The lake trail lies hidden on the parking lot side. If you look down the hill and to the left the trail signage can be clearly seen. Although this trail can be easily hiked from either direction, most people usually begin their hike near the sign.
Have Trail, Will Follow
This easy hike loops a scenic one-mile trail. Views of the lake’s reflective surface guide you on your trip around its banks.
The first part of the trail leads through a wooded section that is home to several large cypress trees. When one ususally thinks of cypress trees they may think of swamps and wetlands, but this is not a prerequisite for its growth, as can be seen here.
Openings in the forest growth give way to excellent places to fish for bluegill, bass, and catfish. These openings can, also, be used for impromptu picnics and because boats are not allowed it should be noise-free and peaceful.
The Other Side
The trail slowly bends around and soon you can see the bluffs on the opposite side of the parking area that overlook the lake.
The Blackjack Oak Trail lies on the top of the bluff and in certain sections allows for sweeping views of the lake below, which is well worth the extra steps.
Side-trails soon appear on the left, which lead up to Lakeview Picnic Shelter. This, also, leads to the Round Bluff Nature Preserve Trail, which can be easily combined with the lake trail to make a longer hike more demanding hike.
Continuing around the lake, you soon top the dam, which was built in 1960 to create this 16-acre lake. After the dam the parking area is reached, thus completing the loop and one of the great lake hikes of Southern Illinois.
How To Get There
Use the map below to get directions by clicking on the tab and entering your address. The tab is the approximate trailhead location.
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