5 Beautiful Backpack Camping Spots in Illinois

By April Dowling

5 Beautiful Backpack Camping Spots in Illinois

Illinois offers plenty of opportunities for backpacking in the many scenic landscapes throughout the state. With such a wide variety of landscapes and natural habits available, backpackers are afforded a diversity of camping experiences. From state parks to wilderness areas, Illinois makes an excellent place for primitive camping. Here are five beautiful backpacking spots in the state. 

1. Panther Den Wilderness

Panther Den Wilderness was designated as such by Congress in 1990. The River to River Trail system is a highlight of the area, which is well-marked and features several loops. But proceed with caution as the hiking can be a bit strenuous. Primitive camping, with no fees, is permitted at Panther Den. Be sure to camp and wash 150 feet away from the lakes and streams. There is no primitive camping in the designated natural areas of research natural areas.  

2. Pounds Hollow Recreation Area

Located in Shawnee National Forest, Pounds Hollow Lake has several electric and non-electric campsites. There are no reservations accepted here, so sites are available on a first-come, first served basis. The fees are $10 a night. Be sure to only camp at the designated camping areas with a maximum of two tents, eight people, and two vehicles per site. 

3. Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area

Ideal for water lovers, Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area is located on approximately 6,000 acres—half water and half land. This beautiful landscape consists mainly of bottomlands, bluffs, and backwaters abundant in wildlife and vegetation. Tent camping is available. Many backpackers enjoy camping on the islands, as well. 

4. Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area

For a truly rustic camping experience, Silver Springs is a prime option. There is plenty of opportunity for boating, canoeing, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, fishing, and hiking at Silver Springs. Enjoy a beautiful four-mile scenic trail that winds along the river and through the woods.  

5. Walnut Point State Park

Walnut Point State Park offers a perfect combination of water, woods, and wildlife. Located in east-central Illinois, backpackers appreciate the hiking trails, cross-country skiing opportunities, wooded picnic areas, and relaxing natural scenery. Tent camping areas are available with access to drinking water and showers. 

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