Pyramid State Recreation Area consists of heavily forested hills and many lakes and ponds. Southern Illinois University formerly owned and used 924 acres for research. In 1968, Pyramid became a State Recreation Area, and at this time received the 924 acres from Southern Illinois University. Additional land acquisition, and the latest acquisition of the Arch Mineral Properties, and the purchase of the Satellite area known as Campbell Pond consisting of 520 acres brings the total overall acreage to 19,701 making Pyramid the largest State Recreation Area in Illinois and gets its name 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 is known as "Super Lake" located on the Arch acquisition of 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
I have been to this trail three different times. Ther first two were great! There were streams, a couple little falls, and the carvings were really cool if you could find them under the slight graffitti. The third time I went was absolutally terrible though. It was sometime in August and it hadn't rained in some time apparently. There were absolutally no streams other than the main which was low. No falls becasue of the dryness. By far the worst part, though, was that the entire trail was covered in spider webs. And when I say the whole trail I mean you couldn't walk five steps without hitting another. At one point it was so bad/gross/annoying that I almost started crying in the middle of the woods. I ended up hiking half the hike swinging a big stick in front of me. Also, the only real veiws throughout are the indian carvings and the big stream. Other than that, all three times have been bare treesw, no color, and no wildlife (other than spiders aparently). Sadly I think I got my fill of this trail and won't be returning, but I would recomend going just to look at the carvings. Just go after a little rain.
I have mixed feelings about this park. The trails were gorgeous and the contact view of different lakes made for an absolutely beautiful hike. Not to mention, the trail was nearly empty. I only saw two other people and they weren't hiking (one birdwatching, the other was running somewhere). I did the full 10 or so miles and it went by very quick. My only complaint, and it's a big one, is that the trails are very poorly marked. I took a wrong turn at a fork and ended up on the highway having to walk along the road back to the park. I could have backtracked, but it would have added several miles to the total. I knew where I was so it wasn't worth it. I'd like to do this trail again, but I think I'll make sure I have a GPS next time. It was only mildly buggy, but I did find 10 ticks on my dog afterwards. All in all, it's worth going here because it's so beautiful, but make sure you have a very good map and are paying attention to navigation at forks.
After spending Saturday (01-23-16) hiking Ferne Clyffe State Park, Karen and I had hoped to leave our cabin rental and head to Little Grand Canyon in Shawnee National Forest, but unfortantely the IL Department of Natural Resources likes to close roads when there is snow on them. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to hike somewhere new, we pointed the truck in the direction of Pyramid State Park. What a neat area. This is Illinois' largest state park and was home to several strip mining operations in years past. The area is dotted with small lakes EVERYWHERE. It was unlike any other place we have hiked. There was not a lot of elevation change, and there certain was not alot of rock formations, but the lakes were literally everywhere and that kept us interested.
The trail system was a bit confusing, as there really is not many trail markers with mileage or directions on them, but because this was an area of old mining operations, the trails are old mining access roads; which make for easy walking.
It was a great way to spend some time on a winter afternoon.
Ascent: 178 ft
Descent: 148 ft
Max Elevation: 541 ft
Very well kept park. Plenty of signage to find your way around. With major trail being used by equestrians there are some areas that are a bit torn up. Nothing horrible. My dog jumped into a small black pond and came out dripping black stuff. Not sure what it was but it's the second time since we came to Southern Illinois that it's happened. Overall a really good experience.