Sand Ridge State Forest

Sand Ridge State Forest is a multiple route trail located near Topeka, Illinois and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for birding & hiking and is accessible year-round.

birding hiking
Hide Map
Sign up now to see this map!

Smaran Mandala

9 Completed5 Reviews

A friend and I camped here this past weekend.
The state forest has two kinds of camping areas:
1) Regular camping : designated areas (large areas) where you can drive up, get out, pitch a tent and cook some food. They had restrooms and trashcans and two of these camping sites that we drove in to check out seemed very clean. There was almost no debris from other campers left behind.
2) Back Country camping sites (BCS): These are sites that you will have to hike to in order to reach them. The closest of these BCS were a mile away from where we had parked. We took the Brown trail off of Cactus road. The trails are very well marked and easy to find and navigate to. We hiked and explored three of the BCS on our trail before deciding on the one we liked best. The thing I liked about these were that each of the BCS was unique (one had a clear view of the sky, another had slabs of logs to sit on around the campfire, the third had very thick vegetation around it).
They all had a slab of concrete to light your campfire in (minimizing the possibility of starting a wildfire). Firewood was not stocked at these sites (kind of expected that) so we rummaged through our surrounding area to gather wood (wasn’t too difficult to find) that fed our fire well into the night.
These back country sites are well spaced and that gives you a feeling of being all by yourself (I hate it when other campers get too noisy) at these sites.

Some of the trails can get quite sandy so be sure to wear good hiking boots to prevent sand from getting into your shoes and be prepared to put in some extra effort into your hike (walking in sand can tire you easily).

All in all, we loved the availability of back country camp sites and enjoyed our camping thoroughly.

George Aspbury

29 Completed9 Reviews

Hidden gem of a park. Several loop trail systems from 5-14 miles. There are also many miles of fire lanes. Much sand is here. Apparently there are badgers living in the park. We have yet to encounter one. Loads of whitetail deer and other critters. Deer hunting and game fields so check the park for info regarding trial closures and huntign seasons.

Jeff Cole

2 Completed1 Reviews

I back packed the eastern Yellow trail to Back country site 1 where I camped. The trail was sandy as expected, adding about 30% more work to the trek at times. Cactus were everywhere. I plan to return and do a different trail.

Michael Rowe

14 Completed3 Reviews

It's been a few years since I hiked this trail. As I recall there is a 17 mile loop trail. I used this trail to get in shape for backpack trips. The trail was difficult at times do to the trail surface being made up of sand.