HAZLET STATE PARK
It seems appropriate for the largest campground in the Illinois state park system to be located on the largest manmade lake in Illinois. Eldon Hazlet State Recreation Area is a 3,000-acre site on the west shore of Carlyle Lake, a Kaskaskia River impoundment. The site is located 3 miles north of Carlyle and 2 miles east of Illinois Route 127 in Clinton County.
The site is leased by the Department of Natural Resources from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which built the 26,000-acre lake. It is named for a Carlyle attorney who organized the Kaskaskia Valley Association. Eldon Hazlet was the first president of the organization, which promoted construction of two of Illinois? three largest reservoir/recreational complexes - Carlyle Lake and Lake Shelbyville - plus other improvements on the Kaskaskia River.
Annually, more than 800,000 visitors come to the park to camp, boat, fish, hunt, picnic, bird watch and to hike over 9 miles of trails in the park, or attend the sailboat regattas held almost every summer weekend. Whatever type of recreation you choose, it?s probably offered at Carlyle Lake.
Wildlife abounds at Eldon Hazlet, in part due to the natural resource management program implemented at the park. Various types of warm season grasses and legumes are planted to provide supplemental cover and food for wildlife. Brush piles and nest structures such as bluebird boxes have been placed throughout the park. The restoration of natural habitats such as prairie and wetlands has also benefited the local wildlife populations.
Across from the site office, a 3-acre tallgrass prairie can be viewed with more than 50 species of native plants. Numerous species of wildflowers bloom in the summer including compass plant, blazing star, purple coneflowers, rattlesnake master, American feverfew and stiff tickseed.
Deer, red foxes, raccoons, squirrels, woodchucks, quail, doves and songbirds, including bluebirds, are among the wildlife species to be seen. More than 200,000 waterfowl stop at the lake on their migratory travels north and south each year and can be seen from the park. Along with waterfowl, other types of birds commonly seen at the park include wading birds such as herons and egrets, shorebirds, songbirds and raptors.
Youth group camping is available at the Osage Youth Group Area. With easy access to the lake and plenty of hiking trails, this area is a favorite of Scout and Church groups. The campground has a picnic shelter, privy toilets and drinking water. Although the area is not reservable, it is very large and can accommodate hundreds of campers. Youth groups may schedule nature hikes or interpretive programs by calling the site interpreter.
Twenty lakefront cottages are available for rent in the park. The cottages are located on the Carlyle Lake shoreline offering a spectacular view of the lake. The 780 square foot units contain a kitchenette, bar, living area, bedroom, loft and deck. The kitchenette is equipped with stove, refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker and sink. Other amenities include cable tv, linens, and cookware. Twelve complimentary boat docks are available to cottage renters upon request. For more information on prices and availability, please call 1-877-342-8862 or 618-594-3386.
A public swimming pool is located behind the campground store. The pool is open form Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. With a zero entry to 4 1/2 foot depth and staffed by a lifeguard, the pool is ideal for families with small children. Maximum capacity is 450 swimmers.
Because of its central location relative to the lake, the park is a great place to launch a boat. Three boat ramps are available to the public free of charge. Allen Branch Day Use Area is one of the most popular boat launching spots on the lake. It offers a four-lane boat ramp with a handicapped accessible courtesy dock, plus two picnic shelters and privy toilets. Apache Day Use Area has a two-lane ramp, picnic shelter, play equipment, fish cleaning station and privy toilets. Peppenhorst Branch has a graveled small-boat ramp used by anglers and hunters.
A combination of wide open water, low surrounding terrain and strong winds provide conditions which make Carlyle Lake one of the Midwest?s most popular sailing lakes. Regional and national regattas are held here, and in 1994 the sailing competition of the US Olympic Festival games was hosted by Eldon Hazlet State Park and the Carlyle Sailing Association.
A 40-acre sailboat harbor, protected in a deep inlet, is at the south end of the park. It is operated as a land-based marina, meaning all boats are stored on land. The sailboat harbor is leased from the park by the Carlyle Sailing Association (CSA), which operates it as a concession for members. However, non-members may launch boats there by paying a fee.
In addition to boat launching privileges, payment of the fee entitles the non-member to use all of the harbor?s other facilities. They include showers, picnic tables, play equipment, day-use docks, and a large shelter with electricity and a barbecue pit. Also, when slots are available, parking privileges in the harbor?s members-only overnight boat parking area may be extended to non-members who are staying several days at the park and who pay the launching fee.
The harbor complex has both a conventional boat launching ramp and three electric hoists which can place sailboats up to 2,000 pounds - in the 16- to 18-foot range - in the water from the harbor wall.