Pyramid State Recreation Area

Consists of heavily forested hills and many lakes and ponds. Southern Illinois University owned and used 924 acres for research, transferring the land to the state in 1968 for a State Recreation Area. Additional land acquisition, and the latest acquisition of the Arch Mineral Properties, and the purchase of the 520 acre Satellite area known as Campbell Pond bringing the total overall acreage to 19,701, making Pyramid the largest State Recreation Area in Illinois. The name derives from a coal mine that once existed here. More than 500 acres of water form lakes varying in size from 0.1 acres to 276 acres. The largest lake on the property, known as Super Lake, is located on the Arch and known as the Captain Unit. Most of the lakes on the original Pyramid Site were created prior to 1950. Since many of the lakes can be reached only by foot, Pyramid affords an opportunity for the angler to get away from crowds.


In 1962, the state's surface strip-mine reclamation law came into effect. The most common method of reclamation in the 1930s was tree planting, but this was discouraging as the trees brought no quick economic return. A mature hardwood timber consisting of mostly white oak and hickory on the west edge of the park is an area about 20 acres which was not mined. Several stands of conifers were planted years ago, and there is a timber cover of cottonwood, box elder and sycamore. Oak and hickory trees are increasing in number.


Many species of wildlife may be found in the area, including songbirds, deer, squirrels, beavers, rabbits, turkeys, bobcats, raccoons, opossums, coyotes, weasels, minks, woodchucks and waterfowl.


Picnic areas are numerous but small due to the terrain. Picnic tables and charcoal grills are available, and there is one picnic shelter. Pit toilets are located throughout the area.


There are 18 miles of foot, horse and mountain bike trails. Future plans include increasing the mileage of the trail system to expand to the Arch property.


Tent and trailer camping are permitted at designated camping areas only. There are three Class C camping areas, Class D hike-in campsites, a small equestrian camp and a youth group camping area. Water and a trailer dump station are available near the site office. There are no electrical hookups in the camping areas.


Fisherman will find that largemouth bass and bluegill are the predominant species. Lost Lake (a hike-in lake) and some of the other lakes contain a hybrid of green sunfish/bluegill. Rdear and channel catfish are present in some lakes.


Canoeing is popular because of the rough terrain, and boats with 10-hp motors or less are allowed. Boat launches are available at some of the larger lakes.


While waterfowl hunting is not permitted on the original section of Pyramid, however, it is allowed at the Arch Mineral Property known as Galum, Captain and Denmark units. In addition, deer and upland game hunting are offered on this area. Check for site-specific information. This area is a managed quality hunting area which means only bucks deer with a minimum of 4 points on one side may be taken. Upland game is by drawing, and a free upland game application must be submitted by mail to the Springfield office.

All Purpose Building

A 40 x 60 all purpose heated and a/c building is now available for public or private meetings. It was built in the Denmark area of the park by the Friends of Pyramid. It has a handicapped accessible bathroom, fully equipped kitchen, table and chairs to seat 80+ people. Reservations for use may made by calling the park directors office.