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Cedar Lake

Cedar Lake, a man-made reservoir in southern Illinois southwest of Carbondale in Jackson County on the edge of the Shawnee National Forest was created in 1974 by the construction of a dam on Cedar Creek, which is a tributary of the Big Muddy River. Cedar Lake provides over 1,750 acres of multi-purpose waters. Cedar Lake serves as a fishing lake, a swimming lake and a source of tap water for the people of Carbondale, which includes those who attend Southern Illinois University.

With nearly half of the lake's 30-mile shoreline bordering the Shawnee National Forest, it is no wonder why Cedar Lake is known as one of southern Illinois' most beautiful recreational facilities. Cedar Lake allures visitors who enjoy fishing, swimming, hiking, picnicking, horseback riding, and relaxing outdoors amidst the extraordinary beauty of nature's backdrop.

Four trails comprise an extensive 14-mile trail system around the lake for year-round hiking opportunities.


The most sought after fish in Cedar Lake include largemouth and striped bass, bluegill, crappie and channel catfish. A successful stocking program has led to successful year-round striper fishing which commonly yields catches weighing more than 20 pounds.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources Division of Fisheries offers "Spear/Bow and Arrow" and "Hook-and-Line" Sport-Fishing Awards to recognize anglers for fish caught in Illinois' waters. (Click the link at right to learn more.)


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    Cedar Lake Illinois Coordinates:
37.6399N -89.2797W
Map It:
Lake Type:
Surface Area:
1,750 acres
Maximum Depth:
40 ft
432 ft
Normal Water Clarity:
1-10 ft
Major City:
St. Louis, MO
St. Louis, MO


The city of Carbondale owns and operates a parking lot, a beach and boat dock at Cedar Lake. Paved roads and two boat launch ramps allow for easy access to the reservoir.

Cedar Lake is only for boats propelled manually or by electric trolling motors or motors no greater than 10 hp in size.


Although no developed campsites exist near the Cedar Lake, primitive camping is permitted as long as the camp is set up at least 150 feet away from the shoreline.

Usually open from April 1 through December 15 The Shawnee National Forest provides a number of developed campgrounds, which are available on a first come first serve basis.

Please consult theLake Resource Guide for information on other nearby lodging possibilities.


The closest major city to Cedar Lake is St. Louis, MO, which is about 119 miles from Carbondale. Nearby Illinois cities and towns, each with its own unique offerings, include: Carbondale, Marion, Herrin, Mt. Vernon and Harrisburg. Cedar Lake flows through parts of Jackson county.

Fun times at Cedar Lake  Cedar Lake

  Cedar Lake   Cedar Lake

Average Temperatures Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg. High  42 Avg. High  47 Avg. High  57 Avg. High  68 Avg. High  77 Avg. High  86 Avg. High  89 Avg. High  89 Avg. High  82 Avg. High  70 Avg. High  58 Avg. High  45
Avg. Low  23 Avg. Low  26 Avg. Low  35 Avg. Low  44 Avg. Low  55 Avg. Low  64 Avg. Low  67 Avg. Low  64 Avg. Low  55 Avg. Low  44 Avg. Low  36 Avg. Low  26