"Forty-four miles of marked trails, ranging from 1.5 to 15 miles each, and 120 miles of fire lanes offer unequaled opportunities to the hiker, backpacker, horseback rider or snowmobiler." Sand Ridge State Forest hiking trails Per IDNR

Most sites have a raised cement block for fires and the forest still has plenty of wood. Usually there is room for several backpacking tents and the lay of the land is fairly flat and level. The ranger station and parking areas are within a few miles of the backpacking camping sites. The trail is sandy and even small hills can be difficult.

From the west, east or south:

  • Follow IL Rt 136 to Mason County Road 2800E and turn north.
  • Continue in a straight line for about 6 miles, through the village of Forest City.
  • This road will turn to the west and become Mason County Road 2300N and will lead you directly into the forest.


From the north:

  • Follow IL Rt 29 south out of Pekin to the Manito Road, turn west and go to Manito, about 20 miles.
  • In Manito, watch for the sign for Mason County Road 2500N and again turn west (right). In about 6 miles you will have entered the forest.


From either entrance, follow our clearly marked signs to the facility or destination of your choice.

For more information contact site personnel at Sand Ridge State Forest, P.O. Box 111, Forest City, IL 61532 or by phone at 309-597-2212 or by fax at 309-597-2240.

Sandridge State Forest

"For those who think central Illinois is one big corn field, Sand Ridge State Forest will come as a very pleasant surprise. The forest is an island in a sea of agriculture. Just minutes southwest of Peoria, this 7,200-acre, the largest of Illinois' State Forests, boasts sweeping expanses of native oak-hickory, extensive plantations of pine, sprawling open fields, grasslands, and completely unique sand prairies. For a refreshing, invigorating taste of unspoiled nature and an opportunity to experience truly unique environment, Sand Ridge State Forest is ideal." State Forest info per StateParks.com

Though there are plenty of backpacking trails, Sand Ridge State Forest isn't the world’s best backpacking spot - this place is actually a desert. That means sand trails which can make travel difficult but give this place a try during the winter and it is a whole new adventure (you will have to keep an eye out for snow mobiles on some trails). The other drawback is that you most register with the ranger in advanced. We were able to talk to the ranger ahead and were able to leave a note that we arrived Friday night but had to stop back the next morning (actually the ranger found us in the park).

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