MIDDLE FORK STATE FISH AND WILDLIFE AREAS
The Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife Area is located 6 miles north of the Interstate 74 exit at Oakwood. The area consists of 2,700 acres of grass, forest and cropland, and provides excellent wildlife habitat. The area is bounded on the east by Kennekuk Cove County Park and on the south by Illinois Power Company's Vermilion Station. The site received its name from the Middle Fork branch of the Vermilion River which flows between Kennekuk Cove County Park and Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife Area. The Middle Fork River passes out of the Middle Fork Wildlife Area into Kickapoo State Recreation Area about 10 miles downstream. At Kickapoo you can enjoy family camping, picnicking, fishing boating, mountain biking and rent a horse for a short trail ride.
Much of the land which now makes up the Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife Area was purchased in the late 1960s and early 1970s, along with lands that now are parts of Kennekuk Cove County Park and Kickapoo State Park, for a 3,300-acre water supply and recreation reservoir. In 1977, the State concluded that it could not afford to fund the reservoir and discussions were initiated to determine alternative use of the lands in public ownership. In 1978, an agreement was reached between the State and Vermilion County Conservation District to trade lands in order to achieve contiguous and manageable land holdings. A management plan was completed in the same year designating the Middle Fork property as a State Fish & Wildlife Area. Land transfers placing the property now known as the Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife Area under the management of the Department of Natural Resources were completed in 1986.
The Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife area has Class C, D, and equestrian camping facilities. Other classes of camping also are available at nearby Kickapoo State Park. The state park facilities are readily accessible from the Kickapoo canoe take-out point at the park's west entrance. Kickapoo is located five miles south of the Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife Area.
Public parking and canoe access to the Middle Fork River is provided at two locations. The Kinney's Ford access is located in the northern section of the facility and may be reached by driving one-half mile west of the 2620N/900E intersection. The Bunker Hill canoe access may be reached by driving east on the facility's south access road located at 2250N/900E. The west entrace bridge at Kickapoo State Park provides a canoe take-out point for these access areas. Camping is prohibited along the river, except in designated campgrounds.
Small day-use areas are located near the campgrounds, office and canoe accesses, providing picnic tables and rustic sanitary facilities. Canoeists, hikers and fisherman also may prefer to picnic along the rivers or trails. Please remember to properly dispose of all litter.
There are 35 miles of marked scenic equestrian, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling trails in the Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife Area, and nine miles of designated hiking trails are available at nearby Kickapoo State Park. All marked trails are accessible from the parking lot near the office at 2400N, just off Road 900E.
The deep glacial till that composes the area accounts for the extensive entrenchment of the Middle Fork River. The prominent moraine involved is the Newtown loop of the Bloomington End Moraine. The rather rugged roll and cut of the land causes fairly quick drainage of the uplands. This, in turn, yields an upland of oak-hickory climax forest, although this basin is a part of the Wabash Border Division, which separates the grand prairie on the west from the beech-maple forest that covers much of the east.
The river is deemed by ecological research experts as one of the most pristine in the state and has been designated a National Wild and Scenic River. In the Lower reach, it is almost entirely sand and gravel bottomed. Not only are there good populations of such game fish as smallmouth bass, crappie, and channel catfish, the Vermillion River system also is the only known habitat in Illinois of the blue-breasted darter.
The Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife Area is comprised of three elements: river flood plain, upland forest and upland fields. Some flood plains and upland fields are cropped. A well-balanced food chain exists from field mice and moles, cottontail rabbits, foxes, hawks and owls. There are huntable populations of pheasant, quail, rabbit, squirrel and deer. Furbearing mammals also are in good population. Waterfowl and shorebirds, such as great blue heron, are common in the bottomlands. The upland woods are frequented by warblers, vireos, and the more common songbirds. The elusive southeastern shrew also is found in the area. Wild turkeys recently have been released in the area.
The Middle Fork River was designated a State and National Scenic River in 1990, in a cooperative effort, a 1,000-foot scenic corridor has been established along the river. It begins at the northern boundary of the Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife Area and extends through Kennekuk Cove County Park, Illinois Power Company property and on through Kickapoo State Park, where it ends at the park's south boundary.
Areas of natural interest include Collison Creek Marsh, Indian Grass Prairie, Skunk Cabbage Seep and Orchid Hill, which is partially owned by Illinois Power Company.
To help hunters sharpen their skills and provide compatible recreational opportunities, a trap range and an archery trail have been constructed.
The trap range is located along road number 2400N near the site office. It consists of two ranges with a table and bench. Throwers are not provided. Shot size No. 6 or smaller must be used. The range usually is open year-round.
The archery trail is located one-quarter mile west of intersection 2620N/900E. The trail includes 20 targets constructed in a loop through the woods, a tower for simulated tree stand shooting and a measured target. The use of broadhead tips is not allowed. The trail is open year-round.
Both ranges have picnic tables and rustic sanitary facilities available.
Relax in the rustic beauty and comfort of Starved Rock Lodge, Cabins and Starved Rock Inn. The historic Lodge has 69 guest rooms, which include three bay-window rooms, plus cabins nestled in the woods. Fireplaces can be found in four of the eight sunset cabins near the pool area...
96.3 miles from park*