Address 1: 10149 County Hwy. 11
Open all Year: Yes
Number of Sites: 84
Full Hook: 19
Full Hook: Yes
A 26-square mile tract situated in the gently rolling countryside of west-central Illinois, Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish & Wildlife Area (JEPC) is one of the Department’s largest public access areas.
A mosaic of mature forest land, agricultural land and grassland, Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish & Wildlife Area is dissected by Panther and Cox creeks and their tributaries. In addition to 6,000 acres of timberland and 4,200 acres of prime farmland, Site M contains a rare hill prairie. It also is home to a rich assortment of wildlife, from endangered species that include Indiana bat, northern harrier and red-shouldered hawk, to such game species white-tailed deer, wild turkey, ring-necked pheasant and mourning dove.
Picnic areas and restrooms are located at Gridley Lake, Drake Lake, Painter pond, Geiss pond, and the Prairie Lake day use area. Shelters are reservable for a fee of $25 or if not reserved they can be used on a first come first serve basis.
24 miles of mountain bike trail are available in two loops and a connection trail. The Prairie lake loop is 17 miles, the Drake Lake Loop is 5 miles, and two miles of trail connect the two. It is open noon to dusk April 16th – May 15th and sunrise until sunset May 16th – October 31st. November 1st – April 15th the trail is closed to all mountain bikes but is available for hikers. The trail is very scenic with forest and grassland portions and many times views the lake. It also has a lot of roll to it which is unusual for central Illinois.
A 22-car/trailer parking lot, along with a 26-mile trail, are located in the northwest corner of JEPC on Questing Hills Road just off County Highway 2. A second access to the equestrian trail is found at Q-4 parking lot which is situated between the 9 mile north loop trail and the southern 11 and 6 mile loops. April 16th – May 15th the trail is open noon until dusk. May 16th – October 31st trails are open sunrise to sunset. November 1st through November 15th horse trails are closed on Tuesdays and Saturdays but open the other days from dawn to dusk. Trails are closed November 16th – April 15th each year. Please call the park office before arrival to check for weather related closures.
For hikers, off-trail hiking is also available. Parking areas are positioned off public roads throughout the site. Because unmarked open wells may exist in the area, caution must be used by all individuals visiting JEPC.
A three mile hiking and jogging trail opened fall of 1999 around the lake shore at Gridley lake. Seventeen miles of new hiking and mountain bike trail opened April 16, 2001 around Prairie lake. Seven more miles of mountain bike/hiking were opened in 2003 around Drake Lake and connecting to the Prairie Lake trail. There are 26 miles of Equestrian Trails in three loops. The topography of the trails has a lot of elevation changes.
There are two campgrounds at JEPC. Prairie Lake Campground has 84 sites, 19 are full hookup sites with sewer drops and water at the sites. The other sites all have electricity. There are also nine rent a cabins located in the campground. The cabins are reservable but the campsites are not. The cabins are located on the shore of Prairie Lake and offer a great view. The cabins have two rooms with the back room containing two bunk beds. The front room has a double bed, drop down table and a couple chairs. All beds are equiped with matresses but you must bring your own bedding. You can not cook or smoke inside the cabins. There is a concrete patio outside each cabin with a grill and table. All cabins have electricity, ceiling fans, and a 1000 watt heater. They rent for $45 per night and can be reserved for an additional $ 5 charge. On weekends you must reserve cabins for two nights. To reserve a cabin call 217-452-7741 Monday- Friday 7-3. Reservations must be made by Tuesday at 3 PM for any date the rest of the week. Reservations can be cancelled with three days written notice with the camping fee returned minus the reservation fee. We also have an equestrian campground, Questing Hills, with 51 electric sites.
A Class AA campground is available with 18 sites that have sewer drops and water hookups at individual sites and 64 class A sites. A new shower building is also available. No Reservations are being accepted for the Class AA or the Class A sites.
The primitive camping area at Jim Edgar Panther Creek is also open. Seven three-sided shelters are available to camp near or camp in for a fee of $6 per night. Hikers and mountain bike riders must travel approximately a quarter mile from the nearest parking lot to access the shelters.
Day Use Archery Range
The Park has shelters in the following areas: Prairie Lake Day Use Area (has a fireplace), Gridley Lake Day Use Area, Geiss Pond Day Use Area, Painter Pond Day Use Area, and Drake Lake Day Use Area. These areas are reservable for a $25 non-refundable fee.
The Chuck Farmer Memorial Archery Range is conveniently located along Prairie Lake, with the shotgun range just down the road. Both ranges are open from dawn to dusk year round, except for during firearm deer season. The shotgun range is closed during IDNR Wingshooting Clinics, and is only for shotguns and targets. No slugs allowed, only shot shells.
Fishing Boating Canoeing
Sport fishing opportunities are available at JEPC at Gridley Lake, 25 acres, opened 1998, Prairie Lake, 210 acres, opened 2002, and Drake Lake, 35 acres opened in 2003. Several ponds within the site have also been renovated.
Stream fishes include largemouth bass, bluegill and green sunfish, along with shiners, chubs and minnows. In addition to the stated fish species, Prairie Lake is also stocked with Muskie.
Currently trolling motors and canoe access are allowed at Gridley and Drake Lakes. Prairie lake has unlimited horsepower with a no-wake zone for the entire lake. Sail boats are allowed.