Fox Ridge State Park

Trip Advisor

Key Information

Contact Info

(217) 345-6416


18175 State Park Rd, Charleston, IL 61920, United States

Entry Fee


Opening Hours

7:30 AM to 10:00 PM


Fox Ridge State Park, a 2,064-acre park in east-central Illinois, is known for its steep, densely forested ridges, broad, lush valleys, and miles of rugged, scenic hiking trails.

Fox Park is enjoyable at any time of year. The snow-softened ridges are alive with birds and animals in the winter. A panoramic blanket of multi-hued wildflowers and flowering trees celebrates the resurgence of growth in the spring. The dense vegetation and new generation of wildlife thrive in the sun by summer, and autumn brings its brilliant display of colour as nature enhances the woodlands with yellows, reds, purples, and oranges.

Fox Ridge offers over 40 campsites and two rustic cabins, with camping reservations available. The park’s northern section has 1,129 acres open to the public for hunting.

Picnic areas for day use are scattered throughout the park. Online reservations are available for a large outdoor pavilion and picnic shelters.

Image of trees
CC: Social Channel of Park

Activities in Fox Ridge State Park

You can enjoy different in-seasonal and off-seasonal activities in this state park. So it means that Rox Ridge State Park not only for the hunting or winter park, you can visit the park in the summer and enjoy the lake side of the water. Here bellow we’ve described few important activities that usually people do.

Road view of park
CC: Social Channel of Park

In-Season Activities

  • Hiking

    The eight miles of hiking trails at Fox Ridge State Park are all connected, allowing hikers to plan a route that suits their abilities and fitness levels. Keep an eye out for deer, rabbits, and turkeys along the trails. The park’s most notable path, the staircase up to the Eagle’s Nest Overlook, is a must-see, offering spectacular views of the Embarras River. These views are especially beautiful in the autumn, when the leaves turn vibrant shades of red and gold.

  • Boating

    From one of the park’s two canoe launches, float down a five-mile stretch of the Embarras River. It should be noted that all watercraft must be registered. The river only allows non-motorized boating. Contact the park office for more information on boating policies and restrictions.

  • Fishing

    Fox Ridge State Park has special fishing regulations. Because Ridge Lake also serves as a research facility, fishing is only available by reservation. Anglers can fish in the Embarras River, but be aware of the steep descent to the shore and wear appropriate footwear. Bluegill, catfish, and bass are the most common species caught here.

Off-Season Activities

  • Hunting

    Pack your hunting gear in your campervan if you want to catch some small game while visiting Fox Ridge State Park. There’s plenty of space to scope out a rabbit, turkey, or deer with over 1,000 acres of the park’s northern section set aside for hunting. All hunters must obtain a windshield card from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website (or a site-specific permit for certain species), and it is also recommended that they review the Hunter Fact Sheet for information on species and hunting area boundaries.

  • Picnicking

    If you’re going to Fox Ridge State Park for a picnic, don’t forget to bring your sports equipment! The park’s eight picnic shelters are located near the baseball fields and volleyball courts. Are you planning a large group gathering or a family reunion? The pavilion in the park is an ideal location for this. Only six of the picnic shelters can be reserved in advance, and large groups must contact the park ahead of time to avoid scheduling conflicts.

  • Cross-Country Skiing

    Cross-country skiers can use five miles of the park’s eight-mile hiking trail network when the weather permits. There is little information available about the cross-country skiing trails at Fox Ridge State Park, so prospective skiers should check the Department of Natural Resources website for current weather conditions.

    welcome board
    CC: Social Park Channel

Fox Ridge State Park Camping

The campground at Fox Ridge State Park has 42 campsites that can accommodate tent campers and motorhomes up to 40 feet long. The standard amenities are available here, including a dump station, picnic tables, restrooms and showers, grills, and drinking water. Water and sewer hookups are not provided, but all sites include 20, 30, or 50 amp electricity hookups. Except for one pull-through site, all of the sites on this page are back-in.

The campground is open all year, with the exception of the winter months, which are typically from November to April, depending on weather conditions. Campers must reserve their campsite at least three days in advance. Pets are welcome at all locations as long as they are leashed and clean up after themselves.

Alternative Camping Option

Relax in one of Fox Ridge State Park’s two cabins! Both the Bluebird Cabin and the Bobwhite Cabin sleep up to six people and are wheelchair accessible. However, the cabins are not furnished, so bring your own bedding, cooking supplies, and other necessities. There is a fire ring as well as electric heating. The showers and restrooms are located nearby.

It is recommended that guests call the park office at least three days before their arrival for instructions on obtaining their cabin key. Please keep in mind that pets are not permitted in the cabins.

Fox Ridge Trails

The park’s rich, abundant plant and animal life, as well as its dramatic hills and bluffs, make the eight-mile meandering trail system the natural focus for most visitors. Each of the ten interconnected trails has a descriptive marker at the entrance to help you find your way. Although many of the trails on Fox Ridge are steep, 18 picturesque wooden bridges and numerous rest benches make them easily navigable. Turkeys, deer, foxes, squirrels, raccoons, rabbits, turkey vultures, hawks, owls, quail, pheasants, and the lush foliage will make your journey both exciting and relaxing.

Within the park, there are eight separate but looping trails. The looping trails allow you to either extend or shorten your walk. You can expect to walk along the Embarras River or through the once-common deciduous forest. A four-mile horse trail, bring your own horse, no horse overnight facilities (Horse trail closed from November 15 – April 15).

The Eagle’s Nest staircase was recently completed, requiring 144 steps to reach the deck overlooking the river, which provides a beautiful view in the fall, winter, and spring.

A fitness trail has recently been renovated, adding a new dimension to the trail system. There are two handicapped-accessible trails, one that wanders along the edge of a ravine and the other that tours a small fishing pond with an accessible fishing pier.

Shelter in Fox Park
CC: Social Channel of Park

History of Fox Ridge State Park

The discovery of arrowheads and artefacts in this area indicates the presence of prehistoric Native American cultures. The Piankashaw and the Illinois were early historic tribes who were pushed out when the Kickapoo migrated into the region from Wisconsin in the late 1600s.

The Embarras River served as the primary source of transportation, fishing, trapping, and, of course, water for European settlers in the area. Before the railroad, much of the area’s economy was based on the river, where flat boats transported livestock and manufacturing materials downstream to the Wabash, Ohio, and Mississippi rivers, and then to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico.

The State of Illinois took over management and ownership of Fox Ridge, then a small parcel of land, in the late 1930s, and residents of the Charleston area assisted in preserving and developing it as a state park. The Civilian Conservation Corps built a residence/workshop complex, a Natural History Survey laboratory, 4 miles of hiking trails, a large brick pavilion, and a dam and spillway that created Ridge Lake, a 12-acre body of water.

Ridge Lake, completed in 1941 and now administered by the Illinois Natural History Survey in Urbana, is used for lake, pond, and stream research in order to improve fishing in Illinois waters. Studies at the lake (the first where Natural History Survey technicians were able to control the water level) have included investigations into the effects of lake drawdowns on resident fish populations, supplemental feeding of bluegill and channel catfish, and the introduction of supplemental predators such as muskellunge and walleye. These are the most extensive and longest-running fish studies in the United States.

The Fox Ridge Foundation was established to further the park’s development and is dedicated to the area’s improvement and promotion. The foundation, which is run by local residents who care about the park’s future, sponsors several annual events, publishes a quarterly newsletter, and organises and manages fund drives for specific or general park improvements. The foundations are a tax-exempt charitable organisation that is supported by the general public through membership dues and donations. For more information, contact the park office or the Fox Ridge Foundation at P.O. Box 714, Charleston, IL 61920.

Fox Ridge State Park Photos

Fox Ridge State Park Map