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A worldwide technology outage is causing disruption to some State of Illinois online systems.  We are aware of this issue and are diligently working on restoration.

Boating and Fishing

Three boat launches are located along the Mississippi River. Boat rentals are not provided. Boat and bank fishing are allowed. Among the fish most commonly found are crappie, bass, carp, buffalo, channel catfish, bluegill and bullhead. In the winter, ice fishing is a popular sport along Spring Slough, north of Putney’s Landing.


Tent and trailer sites are available at the Shady Pines area. All campers must obtain a permit from the park office. Group camping is allowed, but groups of 25 or more must receive advance permission from the site manager.


Big Pines Trail provides an enjoyable 3 1/2-mile hike on 3 trails: Lincolns Trail, Wilderness Trail, and Big Pines Trail. In addition, the 60-mile network of firebreaks is used by hikers, backpackers, birders and nature study groups.

Horseback Riding

Horseback riders also put the firebreaks to good use. Equestrians must stay on designated trails. 


With the Mississippi River providing water and prime habitat offered by the forest, Big River supports a diversity of wildlife, including white-tailed deer and numerous small game species such as quail, squirrels and rabbits. To supplement existing food and improve habitat for upland game, food plots are planted annually. During the waterfowl hunting season, the Mississippi River is popular for its wood ducks, blue- and green-winged teal, mallards and Canada geese. Site Hunting Information


Several picnic areas exist along Campbell Slough and Putney’s Landing, with shelter houses, tables, camp stoves and drinking water available.


Big River State Forest has 30 miles of marked trails.

Scenic Drives

Winding through the forest are 15 miles of scenic roadways.