Fox Ridge State Park is just south of Charleston, Illinois about two hours from St. Louis, Missouri. The State of Illinois founded the park in the early 1930’s. This park is known for its’ steep hills, rolling valleys and deep ravines which is a pleasant change to the miles of flat farm fields that surround the park.
Six miles of hiking trails are nestled within this 2,000 acre park. We parked near the Shady Ridge Shelter and headed off on our hike. We headed towards the Eagles Nest Overlook which has a huge staircase up to the top of the hill.
We hiked the trails is a loop pattern. We took the “Nature’s Corner” trail and ended up going down a staircase that is well on its’ way to being reclaimed by Mother Nature.
At the bottom of the stairs, we lost the trail. On one map, it showed the trail connecting back up to the main trail, but we never did find it, so we backtracked the way we came. This park is beautiful because it seems which ever trail you are on, you are either hiking deep in a ravine or along the top of a ravine, peeking down below.
After hiking a large loop around the main part of the park, we hiked toward the canoe access area to get a peak of the Embarras River. The river was sparkling in the sun.
Overall, it was a great park to explore and I loved the rolling landscape of the park. However, as with many state parks in Illinois, I feel like this park has been neglected. We saw many signs such as “bridge out” or “trail closed”. We also stopped into the restrooms near the campground and they were also in a bit of disrepair.
While we did come across one area on the trail where there was improvements being made, I hope that the State realizes that these parks are a natural treasure and need to be maintained and preserved so that generations to come and experience the rugged beauty that Illinois has to offer.
Since I wasn’t able to find any maps for Fox Ridge State Park online, I took a picture of the maps I picked up at the park. Both are a bit different since one is from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the other one is from the Fox Ridge Foundation. You can see the trails we hiked below.