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Horseshoe Lake State Park (Madison County)

Category: Parks
General Info
3321 Illinois 111
Granite City,
(618) 931 1027

Horseshoe Lake is located off Highway 111 in Madison County which lies in the southwestern part of Illinois. Only minutes away from a large surrounding urban area, the park offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities on 2,960 acres.

Natural Features

Horseshoe Lake is situated in a low flood plain. This flood plain follows the Mississippi River down to the Kentucky border. Before the present system of levies was constructed, heavy spring floods would cause the river to overflow its banks. It would sometimes change directions and cut a new channel through these bottomlands. During this process an old river section was cut off from the flowing channel forming a natural oxbow lake. Horseshoe Lake was formed in this manner.

All lakes, whether man-made or natural, begin to fill in as soon as they are formed. Particles of soil called silt are carried in the wind and in water runoff from nearby fields and ditches. Generally, older lakes fill in to become more shallow than new lakes. Horseshoe Lake is a very old lake as illustrated by its three-foot depth.

History - American Indian

Horseshoe Lake has been inhabited by various American Indian groups throughout time. The earliest evidence of their activity at this site dates 8000 B.C. during the Archaic Period. Artifacts have also been found which fall into the Woodland period 1000 B.C.-1000 A.D. During this time the Mighty Metropolis known as Cahokia Mounds was built. Nearby the 30,000 to 40,000 mound builders farmed extensively but still relied on Horseshoe Lake's rich food source. Today there still remains an earthen platform mound inside the park boundaries.


Five shelters are provided for group picnicking while small areas with convenient parking for the family outing are scattered around the lake. Three playgrounds are located with the park. The site also offers two volleyball areas.

Fishing and Boating

The lake contains channel catfish, bass, crappie, bluegill, carp, and buffalo. Boat fishing is allowed except during waterfowl season. A 50 horsepower limit exists for all watercraft. Three boat ramps are available for public use. There is a handicap accessible fishing pier. A state fishing license is required.


The park accommodates 48 tent or trailers. A sanitary dump station, pit toilets, and water hydrants are conveniently located. All campers must secure a permit from the site office. No reservations are being accepted for camping.


To accommodate the waterfowl hunter numerous public blinds are located on the lake. Hunting is allowed only from these public blinds during waterfowl season. Dove hunting is allowed during the month of September on the peninsula. Controlled pheasant hunting is available. Check with the Park Office for further hunting regulations. Hunter Fact Sheet | Deer Archery Hunt Application


Four miles of hiking trails wander through the natural area on the island.


In the East St. Louis Area in Madison County, 2 ½ miles east of Granite City. Route 111 is adjacent to the eastern boundary and Route 162 is adjacent on the northern boundary.