Cedar Lake

Five minutes south of Carbondale is the city reservoir, Cedar Lake 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, and accessible from U.S. Highway 51. The lake was constructed for the purpose of supplying tap water to the residents of Carbondale. Cedar Lake is also open to kayaking, canoeing, and fishing.

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 north access features several dramatic rock bluffs and secluded bays. Other lakes nearby include Little Grassy Lake, Devils Kitchen Lake, Crab Orchard Lake, and Kinkaid Lake.

Enjoy your visit and please follow the Cedar Lake Rules & Regulations (PDF).

Poplar Camp Beach

If the heat and humidity are getting to you this summer, try cooling off in the refreshing water of Cedar Lake at Poplar Camp Beach. Information about the beach includes:

  • Located a few miles south of Carbondale
  • A swim, play, and floating areas, plus a swim lap lane are provided
  • Certified Red Cross lifeguards are on duty
  • Due to staffing issues, hours of operation are 9:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. (Open through Labor Day weekend)
  • Restrooms, picnic tables, and concessions are available
  • Single-day admission: $2.50
  • Children 4 years of age and younger are admitted free
  • Ten visits pass $20 or twenty visits pass $35
  • Passes purchased are good for the current beach season
  • Swimmers must exit the water 30 minutes prior to closing time

Have fun in the sun while following our Poplar Camp Beach Rules (PDF)

Fishing Tournament 

The Cedar Lake Supervisor starts accepting requests for Fish-Off/Fishing Tournament Permits (PDF) starting January 2 at 8 a.m. Date requests for Cedar Lake 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 or I Fish Illinois for more information.

Archery Deer Hunting Season

Archery deer hunting is the only hunting allowed at Cedar Lake, but it’s not permitted during the two shotgun seasons. View the hunting fact sheet (PDF).

Cedar Lake Property Map

If you are hiking the beautiful trails of Cedar Lake or plan to archery deer hunt, please access our georeferenced pdf map that can be used in apps on your phone like Avenza or PDF Maps or our interactive GIS map.

Directions to the Lake

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 .5 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.