Cedar Lake


Cedar Lake was named as the best lake in Illinois on the website www.cheapism.com   The July 2015 article titled, “The Best Lakes in all 50 States,” selected Cedar Lake as the one lake to visit in Illinois.  Known locally as a recreation hotspot, the website also noted the following ....... "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"

Water Quality Testing

The City of Carbondale is committed to protecting and maintaining the water quality of Cedar Lake. An important part of water quality is conducting routine tests so that baseline levels can be established which will allow the City to recognize potential water quality issues as they develop instead of react to them years or decades later. The City conducts a slate of monthly water tests on the lake and publishes this data for those who may be interested. Should you have any questions or concerns about this data please contact the Public Works Department.

Continue on to this link to access the Water Quality Tests.........

Fishing Tournament / Hunting Information:

The Cedar Lake Supervisor is accepting requests for 2018 Fish-Off and Fishing Tournament Permits. Date requests for Cedar Lake fish off permits are reserved on a first come, first served basis. Call 618-549-1841 for available dates and to reserve your specific event.  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 Cedar Lake Rules and the 2018 Fish-Off Permit Application. 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

2018 Fish-Off Permit Applications

Archery Deer Hunting Season

Archery deer hunting season closes January 15, 2017.  The season will open again on October 1, 2017.  Archery deer hunting is the only hunting allowed but is not permitted during the state’s two deer firearm (shotgun) seasons.

Hunting Fact Sheet

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

2016 ShoreLine Projects

2015 News Events

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.

If the heat and humidity is getting to you this summer, try cooling off in the refreshing water of Cedar Lake at Poplar Camp Beach.  Located a few miles south of town, the sandy waterfront of the beach leads to a swim and play area, an area for floating on rafts, plus a swim lap lane.  Certified Red Cross lifeguards are on duty during beach hours, from 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. Cedar Lake personnel and the Carbondale Police patrol the area.  Restrooms, picnic tables, and a concession stand are also available. 

The beach is open seven days a week throughout summer until the start of most local area schools.  As such, following August 13, 2017, the beach will be closed on weekdays with one important exception being August 21, 2017, when the beach will open that day from 9:30 to 5:30 for swimming and for viewing the Solar Eclipse.   The day following the eclipse (August 22, 2017), the beach will be closed and open on weekends only.   The last day of the 2017 Poplar Camp Beach season is Monday, September 4.  Since it is a holiday, the beach will remain open until 7:00 p.m.  The fee for a single admission is $2.50 which may be used for a full day.  Children 4 years of age and younger are admitted free.  Ten (10) visit passes may also be purchased for $20.00 and twenty (20) visit passes are available for $35.00 for use by individuals and families.  Passes purchased are good for the remainder of the 2017 beach season.

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.

For more information, call 618-549-8441.


Photo Gallery

Quick Facts


A Power Point of Cedar Lake before construction was put together with photographs of the area which 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 has become a popular recreation destination for outdoor enthusiasts. It is used regularly for fishing, boating, swimming and hiking. 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.


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