Very popular with day visitors are the many shady picnic areas at Stephen A. Forbes SRA. Choose from Lookout Point, Stage Coach Trail, Black Oak, Sassafras, White Oak, Whippoorwill or Circle Drive areas. Picnic tables, pit toilets, and park grills are available at all sites. Circle Drive Picnic Area provides a more open setting and has an area for softball, volleyball or other games requiring an open grass area. Playground equipment is also available at Circle Drive, and at Sassafras Picnic area as well. Rustic park shelters enhance the areas at Whippoorwill, Sassafras, Stage Coach Trail and, Circle Drive Picnic Areas. Shelters at Circle Drive, Sassafras, and Stagecoach Trail can be reserved online at www.reserveamerica.com
The 585-acre lake at Stephen A. Forbes provides ample opportunities to the sport fisherman. The lake has been stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, redear, crappie, channel catfish, hybrid-striped bass, and walleye sauger hybrid. Largemouth bass are stocked annually from brood ponds located in the park. This has created an excellent bass fishery. Trout fishing is popular during the Spring and Fall seasons at Boston Pond, and fishing is also available at Marlow Pond and Wilson Pond.
Boat ramps provide easy access to the main lake. There is no limit on horsepower, but various sections of the lake are marked by buoys for water skiing and "no wake" speeds. The concession offers fishing boats for rental. Bait, tackle, gas, snacks, and meals are also available. Slips are available to rent for pontoon boats and smaller craft on a daily and seasonal basis.
A beautiful 200-foot sand beach is located at Rocky Point where visitors can enjoy swimming or picnicking at the tables provided here. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited in the Rocky Point Area. Swimming is prohibited at all other areas of the lake, and swimming from boats is also prohibited. There is a $2.00 a person per day fee to use the beach facilities.
The new restaurant and marina opened on April 14th, 2001. This new facility has inside seating for up 40 people in a triangular shaped dining area overlooking the lake. Additional outdoor seating will be available on two different levels of patios. Other features include a "country store" which provides necessary items for campers along with souvenirs. A tackle and bait shop keeps the angler well stocked. The marina portion of the project includes 80 boat slips for seasonal dockage, a fuel dock, and boat rental. A 220-foot floating walkway connects the campground with the marina, and provides handicapped fishing access.
A recently modernized camping area, Oak Ridge Campground, is a great place to spend an overnight stay. There are 115 shaded campsites with electricity, water and a shower building available. 52 sites can be reserved onlilne at www.reserveamerica.com.
Two sets of stairways and boat dock provide access to the lake for campers here. A 120-foot floating walkway connects the campground with the marina area as well. If you have a group, A Rent-A-Camp site is available. The site has a two room cabin with bunkbeds. The site can be reserved online at www.reserveamerica.com.
For those preferring a more secluded spot with a scenic view of the lake, 10 walk-in sites are available. A separate Youth Group Camp is available at the and Whippoorwill area.
Trails, Equestrian Trails and Campground
A 15-mile horse trail circles the lake, offering horse and rider a panorama of natural beauty. Also available for the equestrian is a 21-site campground with electricity, located on mile east of Omega. The horse trail is open from May 1 to November 1.
There are four established nature trails for hiking enthusiasts. The Oak Ridge Trail is a 2.5-mile loop trail located in the campground. For those preferring shorter walks, the Marlow Pond Trail is half-mile in length, the Henneman Trail, which guides the hiker to an early settlement cemetery, is only a quarter-mile long, or take the Phillips Creek Trail, a quarter-mile with access to the lake.
Over 2,000 acres of land are available for hunters. Dove hunters will find the specially planted sunflower fields to be very helpful in attracting these birds. The heavily wooded areas also provide very good squirrel hunting. Brushy draws and fence rows provide excellent habitat for upland game such as quail and rabbit. Turkey and deer (bow only) hunting is also available. Check the Hunter Fact Sheets for Stephen A. Forbes and Wildcat Hollow online at this link: http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/FactSheets/Pages/South.aspx