Gently rolling terrain, lush woods and a
beautiful lake make the Sam Dale Lake State Fish & Wildlife Area the
perfect spot for a family outing. Located northwest of Johnsonville in
Wayne County, this area has something for everyone: fishing, hunting,
picnicking, camping and swimming. Visitors may see quail, rabbit, dove,
squirrel, deer, muskrat, fox, raccoon, owls, turkey, hawk, woodstock,
or beaver as they roam the timber or brushy fields of the park. The highlight
of a visit here will be Sam Dale Lake, a beautiful 194 acre lake with
eight and a half miles of shoreline to hike around, swim in, or just sit
beside and enjoy. In addition, several smaller ponds are home to fish
The initial 40-acre piece of land was purchased
in 1959. Since then, additional land has been added totaling 1,302 acres
in the State Fish & Wildlife Area. The site was named for Sam O. Dale,
an eight-term state representative who also served as a teacher, principal,
and superintendent of schools in Hamilton County.
Hunters will be delighted with the rolling
open fields. They are interspersed by evergreen plantings and fence rows
for perfect game hunting habitat. Hunting is restricted to the 930 acres
posted for hunting and hunters are required to stop at the check station
for permits. Shotgun or bow and arrow hunting is allowed; deer hunting
with bow and arrow only, by permit. For additional hunting information
see: Hunter Fact Sheet
The long, narrow lake has many curves and
fingers, making it an ideal setting for the avid fisherman. Species available
include largemouth bass, bluegill, redear, crappie and channel catfish.
There are two launching ramps, boat docks, several floating fishing docks
and rental boats available. The motor limit is 10 hp. A concession stand
sells fishing bait near the boat dock area. Ice fishing is also a popular
event in the winter.
Two Class B/E campgrounds provide the overnight
visitor with necessary amenities in a shady, secluded section of the park.
These campsites have electricity and a sanitary dump station. One has
a playground close by for small children. There are also tent and group
camping areas, including a handicapped pad in one campground.
Hikers will delight at the sights and sounds
along the 3.2 mile nature trail. It winds through the wooded area in a
circular pattern with three major loops to follow. The trail skirts the
lake for an easy side trip to the shore. A 1.6 mile trail from the group
campground area to the dam winds along the lake.
A buoy-marked swimming area is available
on the west side of the lake with a large beach area for sun-bathers.
This is a "swim at your own risk" beach; no lifeguards are present.
Swimmers under 17 must be accompanied by a responsible adult. The swimming
area is open daily from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
No alcohol is allowed.
The tall, shady trees and plentiful flowers
and greenery beckon many nature-lovers to the picnic areas at Sam Dale
Lake. One of the picnic areas has shelter. Several picnic areas are available
with tables, drinking fountains, and outdoor stoves. Playground equipment
is nearby. A concession stand offers sandwiches and cold drinks.
Sam Dale Lake is located in
northwestern Wayne County. Coming North or South on I-57, take exit #109,
turn East on Rt 161, travel approx. 22 miles, look for a large sign on
the left for the entrance to Sam Dale Lake. If traveling from the East
on Rt 50, turn South on Rt 45 to Cisne, turn West and travel approx. 8
mi. to site entrance sign. From the West on Rt 161, travel 22 miles east
of Rt 37 to park entrance.
- While groups of 25 or
more are welcome and encouraged to use the park's facilities, they are required
to register in advance with the site office to avoid crowding or scheduling
- At least one responsible
adult must accompany each group of 15 minors.
- Pets must be kept on
leashes at all times.
- Actions by nature can
result in closed roads and other facilities. Please call ahead to the park
office before you make your trip.
- We hope you enjoy your
stay. Remember, take only memories, leave only footprints.
- For more information
on tourism in Illinois, call the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community
Affairs' Bureau of Tourism at 1-800-2Connect.
- Telecommunication Device
for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Natural Resources Information (217) 782-9175
for TDD only Relay Number 800-526-0844.