Encompassing more than 3,000 acres along the Mississippi River, Big River State Forest is a remnant of woodland that once bordered the vast prairies.
The 1-½ mile Lincoln Hiking Trail commemorates Abraham Lincoln's march through the area in 1832. Big River State Forest is a remnant of a vast prairie woodland border area that once covered much of Illinois. Among its vegetation are two endangered plants - penstemon, commonly known as the Bearded Tongue, and Patterson’s Bindweed, which N.H. Patterson documented in 1873, for the first time anywhere, in the forest.
Several picnic areas exist along Campbell Slough and Putney’s Landing, with shelter houses, tables, camp stoves and drinking water is available. Camping, tent and trailer sites are available at the Shady Pines area. All campers must obtain a permit from the park office. Group camping is allowed, but groups of 25 or more must receive advance permission from the site manager.
Boating and Fishing - Three boat launches are located along the Mississippi River. Boat rentals are not provided.
Boat and bank fishing are allowed. Among the fish most commonly found are crappie, bass, carp, buffalo, channel catfish, bluegill and bullhead.
In the winter, ice fishing is a popular sport along Spring Slough, north of Putney’s Landing.
Hiking - Big Pines Trail provides an enjoyable 3 1/2-mile hike on 3 trails: Lincolns Trail, Wilderness Trail, and Big Pines Trail. In addition, the 60-mile network of firebreaks is used by hikers, backpackers, birders and nature study groups.
Horseback Riding- Horseback riders also put the firebreaks to good use. Equestrians must stay on designated trails. Horse rentals are available.
Hunting - With the Mississippi River providing water and prime habitat offered by the forest, Big River supports a diversity of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, small game species such as quail, squirrel and rabbit.
Snowmobiling - Big River State Forest has 30 miles of marked trails.
Scenic Drives - Winding through the forest are 15 miles of scenic roadways.