Cedar Lake / Poplar Camp Beach


Carbondale was named by Outdoor Life magazine as one of the top 200 towns for sportsmen and is home to one of Southern Illinois’ most beautiful recreational facilities --- Cedar Lake.

Fishing Tournament / Hunting Information:

The Cedar Lake Supervisor is accepting fish off and fishing tournament requests for Cedar Lake permits in 2015.  Call 618/549-8441 for available dates.  2016 date requests will not be accepted until after January 3, 2016 with an exception for January 2016 fish off dates, which will be accepted after November 1, 2015.  Date requests for Cedar Lake fish off permits are reserved on a first come, first served basis.  Statewide fishing tournament permits are also required for organized competitive fishing events.  Contact the Illinois Department of Natural Resources at www.dnr.illinois.gov or www.ifishillinois.org for more information.   Below is a listing of Lake Rules and Regulations, Fish-Off and Fishing Tournament Permit applications, plus the Cedar Lake Deer Hunting Fact Sheet and Map.  For more specifics or questions about Cedar Lake call the Lake Supervisor at 618/549-8441.

The attachments are in pdf format:

Cedar Lake Rules

Fishing-Off's and Tournments

Fish-off Permit and Rule Fact Sheet

Archery Deer Hunting Season

Archery deer hunting season opens October 1, 2015.   In an effort to help reduce populations of white-tailed deer, most of the City’s surrounding Cedar Lake land will be open to archery deer hunting beginning October 1, 2015.  The season will remain open through January 17, 2016, with two exceptions, November 18-20 and December 1-4, 2015.  Hunters do not need to sign in or register but are responsible for knowing City of Carbondale regulations. In addition, hunters must also comply with Illinois hunting regulations.

General information about the hunt along with the regulations can be found in the hunter fact sheet and map of the hunt area.  Paper versions of the fact sheet and hunt area map should be available at several access areas and can be found electronically on this page in a downloadable format.  Firearms are not permitted on City property at Cedar Lake and no other hunting is allowed.

2016 Hunting Fact Sheet


Past Programs and Workshops hosted by City of Carbondale at Cedar Lake:

2014 Workshops

2013 Workshops   

City of Carbondale Poplar Camp Beach

Enjoy a day fishing or relaxing on the beach at one of the most beautiful lakes in Southern Illinois: Cedar Lake. The City owns and maintains a public beach and boat dock at Cedar Lake. The beach is best known for its family atmosphere and beautiful scenery and fishermen enjoy regular success reeling in crappie and bass amid the beautiful coves surrounded by towering bluffs.

The beach opens Memorial Day Weekend, starting on Friday, May 27, 2016. Beach hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays and 9:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekends and holidays. The Poplar Camp Beach sandy waterfront leads to a swim and play area, an area for relaxing on rafts and floats plus a lap swim lane. Red Cross certified lifeguards are on duty during beach hours with Cedar Lake personnel and the Carbondale Police patrolling the beach. Restrooms, picnic tables, and a concession stand are also available. In mid to late August, the beach will be open on weekends only (after local schools start back) through Labor Day, September 5, 2016, when the beach closes for the season. The fee for a single admission is $2.50 per day but children 4 years of age and younger are admitted free.  Ten (10) visit passes will be available for $20.00 and twenty (20) visit passes will be available for $35.00. Passes bought will be good for the entire 2016 beach season and can be used by anyone at anytime. Children twelve years old and younger must be accompanied by an adult.

The boat dock at Cedar Lake allows access to the lake for boats with a ten (10) horsepower motor or less. The lake is located south of Carbondale. To drive to Cedar Lake, take U.S. 51 south to the intersection of Old and New U.S. 51, follow Old U.S. 51 approximately 1/2 mile to Cedar Creek Road, travel west on Cedar Creek Road about a mile and follow the signs to the beach on Poplar Camp Road or for the boat ramp at the end of Cedar Creek Road.

We hope to see you there this summer!

For more information, call 618-549-8441.


City Staff Partner with IDNR to Attract State Endangered Species to Cedar Lake

Public Works staff installed an osprey nesting platform on City property at Cedar Lake this fall.  An osprey (Pandion haleatus) is a fish-eating hawk that is classified as a state endangered species.  Endangered plants and animals are those at risk of disappearing from the state as a breeding species.  The birds may be seen throughout spring and fall migration but none have been known to nest at Cedar Lake.

Osprey stand 21-24” tall and have a 4 ½’ - 6’ wingspan.  They nest in the tops of large, dead or open-topped trees, and on rock formations.  Successful nesting sites are closely associated with bodies of water.   Osprey have also adapted to nest building on artificial structures placed on poles or towers.   While in flight, the birds dive into water for prey, which they carry to a perch to consume.  Since the birds have been observed successfully catching fish, perching and soaring at Cedar Lake, it is plausible that they may also choose to nest, should a desirable nesting site become available to them. 

Since very few osprey actually nest in Illinois, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has launched an osprey recovery project with hopes of restoring stable breeding populations to the state.  Components of the recovery project include hacking young osprey and building nesting platforms adjacent to bodies of water to encourage nesting throughout the state.  Relocating raptor chicks, feeding them and ultimately releasing young raptors into the wild is accomplished through a procedure known as hacking.  Since last year, ten osprey chicks have been taken from Virginia and hacked out of structures similar to nesting platforms at two central Illinois lakes.  In locations where osprey are already active platforms are built to encourage nesting.  Since 2005, more than 40 nesting platforms have been installed, statewide.  A second platform will likely be constructed and put in place at Cedar Lake sometime next fall.

For more information on Cedar Lake and wildlife management on City of Carbondale land visit the City’s website at ww.ExploreCarbondale.com or call the Cedar Lake office at 618/549-8441.




Photo Gallery

Quick Facts


A Power Point of Cedar Lake before construction was put together with photographs of the area was done as a tribute to the land before the lake was built.

Cedar Lake is a 1,750-acre  reservoir in Southern Illinois that was created by the damming of Cedar Creek, a tributary of the Big Muddy River in 1974. The lake is located in Jackson County, southwest of Carbondale, Illinois. The lake is accessible from U.S. Highway 51.  The lake was constructed for the purpose of supplying tap water to the residents of Carbondale.

In addition, the lake serves fishing, swimming and active recreation purposes. Cedar Lake is managed for bass,(largemouth and striped), and crappie fishing. Fishermen can also fish for Channel catfish and bluegill.  The lake was described in 2007 as receiving "moderate to heavy" fishing pressure from the recreationally active people of southern Illinois and southeast Missouri. The city of Carbondale operates a parking lot, swimming beach, and boat dock at Cedar Lake. An admission fee is charged for the beach, but access to other sites is free of charge. The boat power limit is 10 horsepower (7.5 kW) or less. There is also an extensive trail system running around the lake that is able to be hiked year-round. The Cedar Lake Trail System totals 14 miles in length, and consists of four separate trails.

The Cedar Lake Trail System includes: Little Cedar Lake Loop, Wolf Den Hollow Trail, Cove Hollow Trail, and River to River Trail (great equestrian trail). The Little Cedar Lake Loop and Wolf Den Hollow Trail are popular day hikes, featuring scenic overlooks, lake views, rock shelters, and rock walls. The Cove Hollow Trail meanders between the shoreline and cliffs, with plenty of opportunities to explore a stream, shelter cave, and rocks. Trails are open year-round, so winter hikes provide beautiful snow and ice covered landscapes.


Hikers in search of wildlife may encounter white-tailed deer, raccoon, wild turkey, beaver, and many bird species from songbirds to raptors.

The City of Carbondale along with the IEPA Bureau of Water & Division of Water Pollution Control worked to stabilize eroded shoreline and helped to prevent soils from the watershed from eroding and entering the lake. These efforts will help keep the lake from silting in and will help maintain water quality and capacity for years to come. Much of the City owned land around the lake is hilly woodland. Over time gullies and ravines have developed due to heavy rains and uprooted trees causing erosion of soil into the lake. The project, completed in 2010, stabilized approximnately 10,000 feet of shoreline. Crews also installed small dams, water diversion devices, and used other techniques to slow running water and trap suspended soil particles on land, so that cleaner water is now entering the lake.  A loading pier on the north end of the City's boat ramp was constructed for the project which may eventually be converted to a fishing pier.



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