I was looking for a short get-away so I decided to check out Eldon Hazlet State Park on Carlyle Lake in Illinois. This state park is relatively close to home for me, just about a 30 minute drive. I packed up Thursday after work, loaded up the camper and hit the road. The drive was perfect since it was two-lane, state highways most of the way (my preference is to avoid interstates when towing the camper LOL!).
I pulled in and the campground hosts welcomed me and directed me to my site. This campground is huge! It consists of about three different parts. One of the sections you can reserve online via Reserve America which is what I did. Most of the campground was already reserved so I chose site 34. The site was perfect! It was fairly level and there was a big tree which provided a lot of shade during the day which allowed my air conditioner not to work too hard in the 95+ degree heat. I also really liked that there was a grassy area behind this site and no other campsites were too close.
I liked that you can also see the lake from most of the campground.
Ellie and I took a walk around the campground as the sun was beginning to set and it was very peaceful. Since we arrived on a Thursday evening, the park was still pretty empty.
The next morning, my friend joined us and we explored the park. We first drove to the Illini Trail which is right outside of the campground, across from the camp store. This is an awesome accessible trail! This trail is about 1.5 miles long and circles a nice fishing pond that was full of water lilies.
We also walked the Bluestem Trail which is another accessible trail and only .25 miles long. We then hiked Loop 3 of the Cherokee Trail which included passing through the Burnisde Cemetery which is a pre-Civil War cemetery.
My favorite part of the park though was the area around Allen Branch. There was a peaceful cove near the Chippewa Day Use Area that would be perfect for kayaking.
My other favorite part was the Wetland Education Trail with the cypress trees and the huge water lilies!
Overall, I really enjoyed camping at Eldon Hazlet State Park and will return in the future. I think Ellie had a good time as well!