Another very nice post from Nancy Milton sharing another great destination for St. Louisians looking for a short daytrip from St. Louis, Missouri. Honestly, I haven't been to Horseshoe Lake State Park in Madison County, Illinois. However, I can say it is now on the list. City Living is fabulous. I love walkable neighborhoods - even better when you live in area where there are great daytrips to escape the City and get back to nature.
Interested in purchasing a historic home, condo or loft in St. Louis, Missouri? Contact Ryan Shaughnessy at PREA Signature Realty at 314-971-4381 or send an e-mail to Ryan@PREASignatureRealty.com.
When I was a child, I remember being bundled up in the winter time and taken to a magical place where my father and the uncles built a roaring bon fire.
They would lace skates on to all of the kids and themselves and we'd glide across a sparkling frozen lake or find a place on the shore to enjoy hot chocolate and count the times various family members fell down or executed a turn or a spin. This was where I learned that my weak ankles would never support an Olympic dream.
The gorgeous place was called Horseshoe Lake. Today it is a 2,960-acre Illinois State Park and it is still beautiful.
From portions of the preserve you can see the St. Louis skyline (pictured left) with its soaring Gateway Arch as the centerpiece.
Located along IL-111 near both Granite City and Collinsville, Illinois, the lake sits just east of the Mississippi River. In fact, the oxbow-shaped lake was formed in prehistoric times when an old river channel was cut off after flooding caused a directional change in the Mississippi's flow.
Native American artifacts from as early as 8000 B.C., the Archaic Period, have been found around the lake as well as items from the Woodland Period from 1000 B. C. to 1000 A. D. when the nearby UNESCO World Heritage Site -- the ancient city of Cahokia -- was thriving. It's thought that Cahokia, also called the City of the Sun, used the lake's fish as an important food source.
Here's a map to guide you to Horseshoe Lake. If you're using a GPS, try this address: 3321 Highway 111, Granite City, IL 62040.
Because of its position near the Mississppi River flyway, Horseshoe Lake is filled with both migrating and resident birds. I've seen Snowy Egrets, Great Herons, Coots (old and young!), Ducks, Geese and many feathered friends that send me running to the nearest birding guide to see what they are.
Birdwatchers report that more than 55 species have been seen at the lake. Here's an Illinois state birding checklist so you can note the birds you see at Horseshoe Lake.
Because it is ancient, Horseshoe Lake is a shallow lake, that has filled with silt over the centuries to leave it with an average depth of approximately three feet according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. It's also the second-largest natural lake in Illinois after its much bigger brother, Lake Michigan.
Fishing enthusiasts will find the lake stocked with crappie, carp, bluegill, channel catfish, bass and buffalo. Boats with motors of less than 50 hp are allowed except during waterfowl hunting season. A state fishing license is required. Stop in at park office for all the details.
The lake is ringed with pavillions that are used by families for birthday parties, reunions and graduation celebrations on a regular basis. If you take a large group to Horseshoe Lake, just register for a shelter as far in advance as possible by calling 618-931-0270.
There is space for nearly 50 campers or tents. The campground at Horseshoe Lake is open from May through October. Playgounds, volleyball courts and four miles of hiking paths around the lake provide plenty to do.
About the Author: Nancy Milton, GRI, is a Realtor with the Just Ducky Homes team at Coldwell Banker Brown Realtors in Edwardsville, Illinois. She and Kristina Pratt help their customers buy and sell homes and investment properties in St. Louis' Illinois suburbs of Madison and St. Clair counties with special emphasis on real estate in the communities of Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, Maryville, Collinsville and Troy. For more information, visit their web site at http://www.JustDuckyHomes.com or e-mail Nancy at Nancy@JustDuckyHomes.com.