Visiting Hamilton State Park is a must, whether you're primitive camping or planning to relax in your RV. The park is also known as Hamilton County State Fish and Wildlife Area, or Dolan Lake. There are many activities to enjoy in the park, as it is home to the 75-acre Dolan Lake. Boating, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, and picnicking are among the most common activities in the park.
Dolan Lake was filled shortly after the dam was built in 1962. There are over three miles of shoreline on the lake, and the maximum depth of the water is 18 feet. This makes fishing both rewarding and challenging where trees and branches can fall.
Hamilton State Park is excellent for camping, whether you're primitive camping or enjoying the luxuries of your RV. There are no water or sewer hookups, but there are electric hookups and a dump station within the park, making it very suitable for your RV or camper trailer.
If you plan to visit in the winter, ice fishing on the lake is permitted when the ice is thick enough. The temperatures in the winter in Illinois can remain below freezing for weeks, making for the perfect ice fishing conditions! As with the majority of the US, summer temperatures range from the upper 70s to the low 90s Fahrenheit.
Whether you're driving your car or RV, accessing Hamilton County Fish and Wildlife Area is a breeze. The park is not located near any major cities, so you know traffic will be fair or good almost all of the time. In addition to the traffic being lighter due to being far from a major city, the distance from a city will also provide you with an excellent view of the starry night.
There are two main entrances into the park, one being on County Road 1100N, and the other being on County Road 1025N. All of the roads throughout the park are both wide and paved, making it easy to navigate your RV or trailer.
Although the roads are paved and easy to navigate, you may face a challenge if driving your RV to places in the park other than the campground. There is very little parking throughout the park that can accommodate something as large as an RV. There are several parking spaces at the boat ramp large enough to accommodate boat trailers, but there are only a handful of spaces, and they are reserved for those that are putting their boat into the water.
Cycling is very common in the park! All of the roads in the park are in the North section. The Southern portion of the park is considered primitive and is heavily wooded. The North part of the park includes the campground, boat ramp, and picnicking areas.
Camping in Hamilton County State Fish and Wildlife area is excellent for those of all ages and of all interests. There are many features to the park that keep campers both exhilarated and relaxed. There are several picnic areas that allow for great times with friends and family. These picnic areas include tables and grills, making cooking easy and quick!
Each campsite within the campground has its own fire pit and picnic table, so don't forget your supplies to make s'mores!
Within the campground, there are 61 electric hookup only sites and 10 primitive non-electric sites. While there are only electric hookups in the campground, there is potable water available in the park, as well as there is a dump station located on the north side of the park!
While it is recommended to make a reservation in the park, it is not required. Although walk-ins are welcome, those with reservations will take priority. You must obtain a camping permit once you arrive at the park!
If you enjoy boating, especially paddle driven boats, Dolan Lake is the perfect place for you. The water only reaches a maximum depth of around 18 feet, making this lake not suitable for large boats. The horsepower on boat motors is limited to 10HP.
This limitation on motors makes the water calm for paddle boards, kayaks, and canoes. The calm waters also aid in fishing, as the fish aren't spooked as easily.
You can't visit Hamilton State Park without going for a picnic! The park offers many different places for a picnic, from your campsite to the picnic area near the lake. There is a table at each campsite, making for a quiet and uninterrupted meal, or you can get together with friends and family in the shaded picnic area in the day-use portion of the park!
Between April and October, there is a concession stand open in the park's picnic area. This stand is perfect for those who need last minute items, as well as those just visiting the park for the day-use areas!
If you are interested in the sport of trapping, this is an opportunity that you won't find in many parks. Within the park, there is a manual clay bird thrower trap area. This area is open year round, so any time of the year you can enjoy some competition shooting between you and your friends.
Of course, this area is shotgun only and is first come first serve. It is noted that you should always be sure to clean up all hulls after yourself, and the area should be left how you found it when you arrived.
Hamilton County State Fish and Wildlife area is perfect for those that love cycling. There are several advantages to this, as cycling is also the perfect means of transportation throughout the park.
If you have a mountain bike, there are many mountain biking, hiking, and equestrian trails that be explored throughout the park. If you have a street bike, this is an excellent park to ride the pavement, and enjoy the rolling hills of the park!
Fishing is one of the most common activities within Hamilton County State Fish and Wildlife Area, as the main attraction in the park is the 75-acre lake. There is over three miles of shoreline that can be fished, as well as the opportunity for taking a boat out on the water.
Some of the most common species that you'll find in the park are largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, crappie, channel catfish, and bullheads. Since motor horsepower is limited, kayaks, canoes, or Jon boats with electric trolling motors are excellent for fishing Dolan Lake.
Hamilton County State Fish and Wildlife are is perfect for those interested in bird watching and nature viewing. Although winters are often harsh in the area, the lake provides a rich environment during the summer months.
Grab your binoculars and your camera; you'll find many species of animals, birds, and wildflowers within the park. On occasion, you can even spot a Bald Eagle in the park. Illinois has more wintering Bald Eagles than any state aside from Alaska!