Beall Woods State Park is a 635-acre state park that sits next to the Wabash River, which borders Illinois and Indiana. Approximately 329 acres of the park is made up of old growth forests, some of the oldest in Illinois, with many of the largest trees in the state. There is a plethora of wildlife in the park and several well-groomed trails that allow you to safely explore the woods. Beall Woods State Park is especially well-known for the variety of birds that shelter in the park, which led to it being designated as an Important Bird area of Illinois in 2007.
There is a visitor’s center on premises as well, with many educational exhibits that detail both the history and the natural heritage of the park. The campgrounds sit near the banks of Beall Woods Lake, a great spot to snag catfish, bluegill, and sunfish, so campers who enjoy fishing will want to be sure to bring along their fishing gear. Sites in this small campground are rustic, without electric or water hookups, and only a few of the first-come, first-served sites are large enough for most RVs. Getting there early in the day is advised in order to secure a site for your campervan or trailer.
Beall Woods State Park is about 10 miles southeast of Mt. Caramel, IL, just a ten-minute drive west of a small town by the name of Keensburg. It is easiest to reach if you take Illinois State Road 1 and turn west when you reach a small town by the name of Keensburg. Some GPS routes have been reported as directing visitors to a more convoluted path that takes you onto narrow, winding gravel roads in rural areas, but if you follow posted signs you should avoid the more troublesome roads.
The roads near the campgrounds and visitor’s center in the state park are fairly easy to traverse but tend to be narrow and winding in other areas of the park. Use caution when driving and stay alert. There are often children here, as nearby towns often have large groups of kids visiting for children’s parties, family get-togethers, and for educational classes at the visitor’s center.
The campground at Beall Woods State Park is fairly small, with beautifully maintained but primitive campsites. It is located a little over a half a mile from the visitor’s center and less than a quarter-mile from the lake. Only 16 spots are available, two of them are pull-through sites large enough for most RVs, and a few more that smaller campervans may be able to fit into. None of the sites have electric, water, or sewer hookups, but there is a dump station near the campgrounds if needed. Reservations are not available for any of the 16 campsites in the campgrounds.
There are a number of picnic tables scattered throughout the park, including several that are situated right by the lake. Campers and locals both make use of the robust and well-maintained playground in the park. Pets are welcome at the campsites as long as they are on a lead or confined, they are not permitted on the park’s trails, however. Generators are allowed during the day but should be silenced from 10 PM until sunrise.
The old growth forests in Beall Woods State Park are immense and they contain many wonders. The variety of trees is astounding, with 64 species, including pecan trees, tulip trees, and sycamores, as well as at least three types of oak, burr, shumard, and white. These are some of the oldest trees in the state and many of the crowns reach over 120 feet in the air. Among the towering trees, you are also likely to spot several a diverse selection of wildflowers and mushrooms to study and photograph as well as an assortment of birds and other wildlife.
The Beall Woods State Park has a fairly robust Visitor’s Center, which is just a little over half a mile from where the campsites are located. There is suitable parking near the visitor’s center, so even if there isn’t a site available for you here, a visit to the center is still possible. There are several different displays that show information about both the nature and history of the park, including animal pelts that are available to view and touch.
Deer hunting by archery is legal in Beall State Woods, a measure taken to reduce the negative effects caused by an overabundance of white-tailed deer. The only animal that it is legal to hunt in these woods is deer and it is only allowed during the statewide firearm season. Check regulations before leaving as there are several permits that are needed to hunt deer in Illinois. Hunting must take only place in areas that are posted as open to hunting.
If you enjoy birding you will want to make sure and bring your binoculars with you in your trailer. There are many types of birds that make their homes in the giant trees of Beall Woods State Park as well as those that spend their time on the lake that is near the campgrounds. Some of the songbird species include orioles, warblers, blue-gray gnatcatchers, buntings, ovenbirds, and scarlet and summer tanagers. Canada geese are frequently seen grazing around the banks of the Beall Woods Lake.
Don't forget to pack your fishing gear in your rig when you visit here. With 1,500 feet of shoreline and a 14-acre surface area, the Beall Woods Lake is a popular spot for anglers as well. There are numerous channel catfish and bluegill living in this lake, dining on the abundant plant life that grows on the bottom of the lake, as well as a few largemouth bass, redear sunfish, and crappie. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources also stocks rainbow trout in this lake in both the spring and fall, so remember to pick up your Inland Trout Stamps if you are intending to keep any trout that you catch.
There are several trails that wind through the old growth forest around Beall Woods State Park, completely immersing you in the sights and sounds of nature. Coffee Creek is visible from several of the trails and you will marvel at the variety of lush plants that make up this ecosystem.
Two of the trails, Sycamore Loop and Sweet Gum Trail, are fairly easy hikes of less than a mile each, and the remaining four trails are between a mile and two miles in length. Most of the trails can be described as easy, though Schneck Trail is considered to be intermediate. While leashed animal companions are allowed to accompany you in the main campground area, in order to protect the ecosystem they are prohibited on any of the hiking trails, as are bikes and motorized vehicles.