May 24-25, 2014 -
I took a tour of Big River State Forest on Saturday, May 24, 2014. This is a great place right on the Mississippi River straight west of Monmouth, IL.
The park has all sorts of activities available, including camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, cross county skiing, snowmobiling, and trap shooting. The caretaker, Wayne, is very helpful. He directed me to the Lincoln's Trail trailhead. Starting at the intersection of 1375N (Keithsburg Rd) and 2650E (Bald Bluff Rd) drive east .8 mile. You will see the sign on the right. When you get on the gravel road to the trail head just bear right for 3 miles until you see the trailhead sign. The trailhead is at 41.004246, -90.918995.
I talked with some folks who were riding horses through the forest. They were camping at the far northeast corner of the park which is set up for equestrian camping.
There were some guys who were trap shooting. You must bring your own thrower and lead shot is prohibited. They were having a great time!
You can launch a boat into the river at Putney's Landing. The landing was flooded when I went down there.
The campground is right on the road, so bring earplugs. I had dinner, a short campfire and then decided that it was too noisy to get any sleep. I decided to stealth camp up in the Lincoln's Trail section. I slept at 41.004548, -90.912346. Other than a persistent whippoorwill, it was very quiet. I was so tired the bird could not keep me awake. I slept so well just smelling the pine forest!
The land here is very sandy. On the horse trails the sand is loose and very difficult to hike on. The fire breaks vary, some are easy to hike on and other are loose sand.
This is a good place to go if you want some private, quiet time. I was pleasantly surprised at how few people were around!