Hidden Springs State Forest (formerly
known as Shelby State Forest) consists of approximately 1,200 acres of
land near Clarksburg, 10 miles southeast of Shelbyville in Shelby County.
The name Hidden Springs was selected
because of the property's seven known springs
which were used for drinking water by the early settlers.
Over the years these springs have been covered over by natural situation
and vegetation (hence the name "Hidden Springs"). Rocky Spring and Quicksand
Spring have access trails.
The entire forest area originally was planned
as a state lake, but these plans were altered when the construction began on Shelbyville
Reservoir. The property was assigned to the Division of Forestry
in 1960 to be managed as a state forest. Following reorganization of the
department in 1975, the property was reassigned to the Division of Land
and Historic Sites. The area continues to be managed under the concept
of multiple-use --- sound timber and resource management complimented
by compatible recreational opportunities.
The forest consists of three separate
tracts covering portions of eight sections of land. The terrain varies from
flat bottomland areas along Richland Creek (which flows diagonally from
northeast to southwest the entire length of the forest) to relatively steep
hillsides. Generally the topography is gently rolling and broken by small
draws and streams.
Native trees in the forest include white, red,
black, bur, post, pin, shingle and chinquapin oaks; ash; hickory; sugar
and silver maple; sycamore; black walnut; and cottonwood. Plantations
of native and introduced species include white, red and scotch pine; red
cedar; sweet gum, butternut; tulip poplar; black locust; and cottonwood.
In addition, many other shrubs and minor individual species of trees are
located throughout the forest.
White and scotch pine seed orchards
are managed for the production of superior seed for use at the state tree
nurseries. White pine cones are collected in August before the cones open
and the seeds are allowed to fall out. Volunteer groups help collect scotch
pine cones in the fall. Many different types of seeds and nuts are
collected throughout the forest and sent to the state nurseries for processing
Thinning of some of the pine plantations
has begun, with the thinned areas used for wildlife food and cover
plantings. Eliminated trees are "chipped" and the shredded wood is spread
on the forest trails. A demonstration pine management area shows the desired
thinning and pruning process to be carried out in a pine plantation.
Management goals also include the growing
of hardwoods, such as oak and black walnut. A forest improvement demonstration
area shows the types of trees which would be removed in properly managed
woodlands. Several areas are being managed for black walnut production
using corrective pruning and vegetation control. Six experimental burn
plots are maintained to show the effects of prescribed fire in a wood.
Some of the forest property, when first
acquired, showed the detrimental effects of erosion. Immediate steps were
initiated to reduce the ravages to the topsoil. Reforestation, terracing,
grass seeding, sodding and toe wall construction are practices in use
at Hidden Springs to stabilize the soil. Close cooperation with the Soil
Conservation Service’s technical personnel has been beneficial.
Rolling Meadows picnic area offers
a large shelter, drinking water, playground equipment, privies, tables,
stoves and a fire ring. Red Bud Lane, on the south end of this area, provides
three small, secluded picnic sites. A small picnic area at the Big Tree has tables
are accepted. Possum Creek, a Class "C" campground, includes drinking
water, privies, sanitary disposal station, pedestal stoves, fire blocks and
a fire ring. Campers may set up camp on the site of their choice. Forest
staff issue permits on routine rounds. Shady Grove Campground accommodates
groups by reservation only. Ground fires in both areas are allowed only
in the fire rings provided.
fishing ponds, two accessible by vehicle, the other three by foot only,
are found on the forest property. Fish stocked are bass, bluegill, redear
and channel catfish. Richland Creek flows the length of the forest but fishing
opportunities are negligible. Swimming on forest property is
Hollow Nature Trail, 3/4 mile in length, provides access to Park Pond
and the pine seed orchard. Trail guides, available at the headquarters,
campground and picnic area, guide the visitor to the 35 interpretive stations.
The Big Tree Trail, 1 mile in length, features
a sycamore 78 inches in diameter, one of the largest in Illinois.
Rocky Spring Trail, 3 miles in length, includes Rocky Spring, a forest
improvement area, walnut production areas and varied land and vegetation
types. Seventeen miles of fire lanes also provide access to remote areas
of the forest. Your cooperation in keeping both motorcycles and horses off
foot trails and fire lanes is appreciated.
A pleasurable and peaceful forest environment
awaits the visitor. A bird check list is available
at the headquarters to those who come to enjoy the many songbirds on the
area. Flowers and mushrooms grow prolifically throughout the forest.
Except for the 240 acres where
the headquarters, campground and Rolling Meadows picnic area are located,
the entire area is open to hunting. Only shotgun and bow and arrow are permitted.
Hunting fact sheets and maps are available
at 10 hunter parking lots or the forest headquarters. Hunters are required
to complete hunter survey cards for each hunting trip. Consult the
forest superintendent if in question about boundaries, hours, or any other
aspect of the hunting program. Wildlife food plots, providing habitat for
the varied wildlife population, are scattered throughout the area. Hunter
Many local attractions surroundi Hidden Springs State Forest. Please visit the Lake Shelbyville Visitor's Bureau website
Direction to Hidden Springs State Forest. From
Interstate 57 .Get off of I57 at Mattoon Exit Go west on Route 16 thru Mattoon,
continue on Route 16 west thru the town of Gays , through the next town
of Windsor. Two miles west of Windsor Route 16 Junctions with 32 South.
Turn left on 32 . Go 4 miles through the town of Strasburg Proceed 2 miles
, turn right off of Route 32 Brown Information signs for Hidden Springs.
4 miles on this road you will be at drive to the office of Hidden Springs
Please This area is for all to enjoy.
Keep all vehicles on gravel roads, pads, or parking lots. Put all litter
in the nearest available trash container. No plants, flowers, shrubs, or
trees may be removed or damaged. Always be careful with any type of fire
and report fires to the forest headquarters as soon as possible. If you
need help, or have a question, feel free to contact the forest superintendent.