- Natural Features- If you're a hiker, a wildflower enthusiast or a lover of wildlife, Kickapoo State Park is a prime area for you to pursue your passion year-round.
Once stark strip mine banks are now covered with a forest of cottonwood, haw, ash and wild cherry. Deep water ponds abound with aquatic insects, plants, crustaceans, amphibians and a variety of fish. Cypresses, introduced along the pond edges, add to the variety.
The Middle Fork of the Vermilion River, a federal and state designated Scenic River, runs through the park.
A bottomland forest of sycamores and silver maples and upland timbers of stately oaks, hickories, beeches, sugar maples and dogwoods are an endless source of fascination for nature lovers and habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. The variety, number and mix of hardwood species present in Kickapoo's upland and bottomland forests translate into a firestorm of fall color each autumn.
In spring, the woods explode with a vibrant display of colorful wildflowers, including jack-in-the-pulpits, violets, bluebells, sweet Williams, spring beauties, Dutchman's-breeches, wake-robins and nodding trilliums.
In the bottomlands, birders may spot kingfishers or pileated woodpeckers flitting among the stately trees. Other species that may be glimpsed include red-winged blackbirds, least bitterns, grebes, great blue herons, warblers, vireos and a variety of songbirds, and even wild turkeys. A birding check list available at the park office lists more than 100 species documented at the park.
A variety of animal life can be seen, including white-tailed deer, squirrel, raccoon, cottontail rabbit, muskrat, mink and ground squirrels.
Nature lovers should be wary. In addition to the trees and wildflowers that proliferate at Kickapoo State Park, poison ivy is abundant. People using the trails should learn to identify the poison ivy plant and avoid it at all times of the year.
Camping- For campers, Kickapoo has two major campgrounds for tent and trailer camping, with 184 sites. About half the sites have electrical hookups, 2 shower buildings are available to all campers and a sanitary dump station is available. Campers occupying electrical sites are required to pay for the availability of electricity even if the service is not used. A limited number of walk-in sites are available for primitive campers.
Several campsites can be reserved in advance by writing the site or by applying in person. The maximum length of stay is 15 days in a 30-day period. Group camping is permitted.
Campers must have camping equipment with them when they register to camp. All campers must obtain a camping permit before entering the campgrounds.
Scuba Diving- Kickapoo is unique in that it is one of only a few state parks and recreation areas in Illinois allowing scuba diving. Divers who register and who show proper certification may dive in the clear, deep waters of Inland Sea and Sportsman's Lake.
Fishing, Boating and Canoeing- With 22 lakes and access to the Middle Fork River, Kickapoo is known for the opportunities it provides for water-based outdoor activities. Anglers find excellent fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill, crappie and redear sunfish. Especially popular are the annual fall and spring stockings of rainbow trout, which provide an unusual opportunity for central Illinois anglers to fish for catchable-size trout.
There are 12 launching ramps on nine of Kickapoo's lakes. Boat and canoe rental is available for Clear Pond. Electric motors only are allowed on the park's lakes.
For people wanting to canoe the scenic Middle Fork of the Vermilion River, a canoe rental and shuttle service is available.
Hiking and Running- If you're into physical fitness, the 7.6-mile Out & Back running and hiking trail offers you a chance to exercise while enjoying awe-inspiring natural scenery. The course is rated "difficult" and is designed to meet the demands of experienced outdoor hikers or runners, passing through forests, bottomlands and the edge areas of abandoned croplands.
If you want a less demanding walk, there are a number of shorter and easier hiking trails in the park, that are well marked.
You bring the hot dogs and the burgers, and Kickapoo has everything else you need for a summertime picnic. Six main picnic areas are available with shelters, tables, outdoor stoves, drinking water and playground equipment. A concession stand, 217-354-2060,offers refreshments and souvenirs on summer weekends, and rents canoes and rowboats daily except Wednesday. Picnic shelters maybe reserved upon request by calling the site.
Hunting- More than 1,000 acres -- including forests, grasslands, edge and cropland -- are available for the use of hunters each fall. Kickapoo hunters may harvest white-tailed deer (both firearm and archery), squirrel, dove, woodcock, quail, cock pheasant, rabbit, raccoon and opossum.
Riding Stable- If you enjoy horseback riding and beautiful scenery, combine the two by renting a horse and taking a guided tour of Kickapoo. Trail rides last approximately 1 or 2 hours during the months of April through October, weather permitting. The phone number is 217/446-8575.
Mountain Biking- If you are into a challenging ride, try the 12 miles of the best single track trails in Illinois. The trails are rated easy to very technical. Enjoy the wooded hills and ravines of the park as you ride the best mountain bike trails in central Illinois.
Winter Sports- When winter blankets the central Illinois landscape with ice and snow, cross-country skiing, sledding, ice fishing and ice skating become popular activities at Kickapoo.
Because some fall-stocked trout usually survive over the winter, those fishing through the ice can creel a rainbow in addition to the species normally found at Kickapoo. Winter also is an excellent time of the year for photographers and wildlife observers to visit the park.
Kickapoo State Recreation Area is located near Danville in Vermilion County. The site is easily reached via Interstate 74.
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