With fully developed facilities for picnicking, camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, horseback riding and hunting, the 1,687-acre Moraine View State Recreation Area, with its 158-acre lake, is a beautiful, convenient and accessible locale for relaxation and recreation.
When the glaciers of the last Ice Age moved through central Illinois 15,000 years ago, they pushed massive amounts of rock and earth before them, leaving in their wake long and expansive ridges that ripple across the landscape. These irregular crests are called moraines, and on their gentle swells and their broad valleys are scattered groves of white oak, red oak, black walnut, maple, hickory, ash and elm.
One of the four largest of these moraines in Illinois, the Bloomington Moraine stretches across the state from Elgin to the Illinois River at Peoria east to Saybrook. In the middle of this sprawling feature, Moraine View State Recreation Area just minutes east of Bloomington/Normal off I-74 provides an ideal opportunity to enjoy both the tranquil natural beauty of Midwestern woodland and refreshing outdoor activity.
The lake is regularly stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, bullhead, crappie, channel catfish, walleye, yellow perch and northern pike. Whether from the 5 miles of shoreline or off the handicapped-accessible fishing pier, the angling is always good.
Drifting and bobbing on the glittering expanse of Dawson Lake is one of the site's most popular activities, whether aboard a sailboat or in a motorcraft of 10 HP or less. Presently, an idle-speed/no-wake speed limit exists for boat motors more than 10 HP. There is a two-lane launching ramp and docking facility and boat rentals are available at the concession stand.
The Black Locust picnic area includes a public, sandy beach where swimming is permitted from Memorial Day to Labor Day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday as well as Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day. No alcohol or pets are allowed on the beach, and swimmers are to remain in the buoyed area. There are no lifeguards.
For invigorating exploration, Moraine View contains a variety of opportunities. The 0.5-mile Tanglewood Self-Guiding Nature Trail winds around the lake finger in a wooded area and will take you within sight of a thriving beaver dam and lodge. Tall Timber Trail, a 1.5-mile backpack and hiking trail over moderate terrain, also provides sites for primitive camping along its course. The Timber Point Handicapped Trail is a 0.5-mile long opportunity for visitors with disabilities to enjoy the pleasures of the woods, as well.
More than 10 miles of bridle paths on Timberline Ridge Trail wind through most of the area. An equestrian campground is available.
When the season brings sufficient snow, 7 miles of trails are open for cross-country skiing, and the field trial trails accommodate the higher horsepower of snowmobiles. Ice fishing and ice skating are available when the ice is thick enough.
Approximately 1,300 acres of Moraine View SRA are open to public hunting in season. Moraine View is one of eight sites in Illinois which has 9 weeks of controlled pheasant hunting. Consult the park office for specific information concerning hunting and opening dates for various species.