Sand Ridge Orange Trail is a 6.8 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Forest City, Illinois that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.
The hiking trails are well marked by colored markers on posts at various points along the trails. Many of the trails utilize the fire lanes for large portions, then go through the forest areas. Most trails are shared by equestrians and hikers, some fire lanes are open to snowmobiles when there is more than 4" of snow. The park has a campground with 24 Class C sites (gravel pads, firepits, picnic tables, pit toilets), an equestrian campground, a group camp and 12 Class D primitive backpacking sites. The park and campgrounds are open year-round.
tick infested!!! left early
I hiked this trail late last summer. Campground is nice with aquifir water or you can choose to camp in one of the primitive campsites. Trail is very fine sand with fir tree forested areas. No activities except those at your campsite.
I would only go here if I lived close to the area and needed to get in shape for hiking something else. I hiked about an 8 mile loop with a friend and there wasn't really any features or nice views. There were some tiny prickly pear cactus, and the trail was all sand which was different for Illinois. I really don't recommend it for hiking and backpacking unless you know that its not going to be very exciting. Definitely seems more suited to horseback riding and snowmobiling and we were constantly dodging horse manure. The backcountry sites were good, and there was actually a ton of fire wood that had been chainsawed so we hardly had to look for wood. There was some farm machinery in one of the fields that was roaring away until after midninght, sounded like a generator or something, and it was really loud, drowning out the forest sounds that we came all the way from Chicago to take in. The area around is fun to drive around. Pretty wild flowers and some interesting bodies of water. Probably will never go back considering some of the other beautiful parks this state has to offer. The trail map doesn't even have one "feature" labeled, there's not one notable thing about the area, just red trail brown trail blue trail etc. THERE IS NO NATURAL WATER SOURCE AT ALL so you have to pack in all of your water. It's a giant sand deposit from a glacier so doesn't hold any water. Unless you stay at the car camping lot there is a pump there which was awesome to dowse ourselves in after the hot monotonous hike. So, in my opinion, probably one of the most boring hikes I've been on and I'm pretty easy to please.
Was difficult for young children in sandy "orange" trail. But they loved playing in the sand whenever we took a break. Elevations were easy and we had lots of equine travelers which was a plus for kids too. Expect a 3-4 hr trip for youngsters.
Hiked a 5 mile loop with my family today (red diamond trail). Great spring hike. Enough hills to make it interesting and very sandy on the trails as others have mentioned. Back Country Campsites (BCS) looked interesting. We'll be back again to try some of the other trails.
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.
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.
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.
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.