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Southwestern Region
Stephen A Forbes State Park
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Stephen A Forbes State Park © Sandy Woodall
Stephen A Forbes State Park © Sandy Woodall
Stephen A Forbes State Park © Amanda D. Powers
Stephen A Forbes State Park © Sandy Woodall
Stephen A Forbes State Park © Amanda D. Powers
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6924 Omega Road
Kinmundy, Illinois   62854

Phone: 618-547-3381
Email: park email button icon
Picture yourself on the banks of a beautiful lake, surrounded by shady oaks and rolling hills. The presence of a graceful heron on the water, or deer or even a wild turkey in the nearby brush may be visible. A tug on the fishing line brings you back to the task at hand -- reeling in the first or your limit of largemouth bass, bluegill or crappie. As the sun comes up, take a swim at sandy Rocky Point Beach. The rest of the day offers many options, from hiking on the nature trails, to softball or volleyball at the Circle Drive Picnic Area to water skiing. Or, you may want to spend the night at the Oak Ridge Campground. All of this, and more, awaits visitors to Stephen A. Forbes State Recreation Area.
History of the Area
The Stephen A. Forbes State Recreation Area, located 15 miles northeast of Salem in Marion County, was originally only 20 acres with a two-acre pond being the only water available. Since that time in 1959, additions have been made which bring the total current park area to 3,103 acres. Of this total, 1,150 acres are forests of oak and hickory which surround a large lake. The lake was completed in 1963 and has 18 miles of shoreline. The area is named for natural scientist, Stephen Alfred Forbes, whose contributions in the field of biology, make him world renowned. His prolific scientific publications, over 400 titles, are still used extensively in the study of aquatic biology, ornithology, ichthyology, and ecology.
A recently modernized camping area, Oak Ridge Campground, is a great place to spend an overnight stay. There are 115 shaded campsites with electricity, water and a shower building available. Two sets of stairways and boat dock provide access to the lake for campers here. A 120-foot floating walkway connects the campground with the marina area as well.

If you have a group, two Rent-A-Camp sites are available. One site provides a large wall tent, cots, electric lights, table and grill. All you need to bring are people -- it can accommodate up to eight. The other site has a two room cabin with bunkbeds. These sites can be reserved by contacting the Park Office. For those preferring a more secluded spot with a scenic view of the lake, 10 walk-in sites are available. A separate Youth Group Camp is available at the Persimmon and Whippoorwill areas.
A beautiful 200-foot sand beach is located at Rocky Point where visitors can enjoy swimming or picnicking at the tables provided here. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited in the Rocky Point Area. Swimming is prohibited at all other areas of the lake, and swimming from boats is also prohibited.
Boat ramps provide easy access to the main lake. There is no limit on horsepower, but various sections of the lake are marked by buoys for water skiing and "no wake" speeds. The concession offers fishing boats for rental. Bait, tackle, gas, snacks, and meals are also available. Slips are available to rent for pontoon boats and smaller craft on a daily and seasonal basis.

Stephen A Forbes State Park is located near Salem, Vandalia

Very popular with day visitors are the many shady, picnic areas. Choose from Lookout Point, Stage Coach Trail, Black Oak, Sassafras, White Oak, Whippoorwill or Circle Drive areas. Picnic tables, pit toilets, and park grills are available at all sites. Circle Drive Picnic Area provides a more open setting and has an area for softball, volleyball or other games requiring an open grass area. Playground equipment is also available here, and at Sassafras Picnic area as well. Rustic park shelters enhance the areas at Whippoorwill, Sassafras, Stage Coach Trail and, Circle Drive Picnic Areas. Several can be reserved in advance by contacting the site office.
Equestrian Trails and Campground:

A 15-mile horse trail circles the lake, offering horse and rider a panorama of natural beauty. Also available for the equestrian is a 21-site campground with electricity, located on mile east of Omega. The horse trail is open from May 1 to November 1.


There are four established nature trails for hiking enthusiasts. The Oak Ridge Trail is a 2.5-mile loop trail located in the campground. For those preferring shorter walks, the Marlow Pond Trail is half-mile long, the Henneman Trail which guides the hiker to an early settlement cemetery is only a quarter-mile long, or take the Phillips Creek Trail -- a quarter mile with access to the lake.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
June 1 Disappointed by Karen
park review stars; one to five We have been utilizing the horse campground at Forbes State Park for more than 20yrs. Due to illness and other factors we have been unable to camp for the last 3 years. This past Memorial Day weekend we chose to go camp and ride. We arrived Friday afternoon and we were floored that the campsites had not been mowed. There were tall weeds around everything, the campfire pit, the trashcans, the out houses. The out houses were disgusting and almost full! I understand that there have been many budget cuts throughout the state but being the first big holiday weekend of the year I would have thought the campgrounds would have been more presentable. Very disappointed.
April 22 if your physical, you are limited. by Joey J.
park review stars; one to five For those that like to drive in a trailer, plug in your electrical outlet, boat on the water and enjoy high tech modern camping this is a great park. Not many pine trees! If you like hiking trails, bicycling, primitive camping, and jogging, you will be disappointed. The parks roads are dangerous to cycle on, trees/shrubs grow right up to the side of the pavement, many blind curves and many speeders. Many small unexciting hiking trails, only one really good long trail in the campground. Overall a great place to Picnic, camp and boat. A great recreation area. Not many pine trees at this park.
March 2 good but needs improving by Truthful review
park review stars; one to five My family and I have been camping at Forbes for 20 years. The campground is a great atmosphere and have had a lot of great times there. Although recently the prices have taken a dramatic increase. The prices have almost doubled from what they use to be. I recommend it to anyone looking for that quiet atmosphere. Since they have made improvements to the shower house and bathroom facilities the need for more water hook ups are needed . Some camp sites you can reach the water hookup some you cant unless you take extra hose. I read a review of the camp ground hosts being rude and crude.....I have to agree I know hosts are not all the same year round and they change throughout the year and not all are this way, I have had only one complaint due to a camp ground host. The hosts we had the pleasure to speak with during our time there was exceptionally rude. I can only guess to the reason why. But I have to bank on our young apearance being the reason for the rude greeting. Wish I had taken his and her name. Although we had a bad experience My wife and I plan to return and hope we do not have the same experience as before. Hope everyone has as good of a time as we have had over the years.
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