Outdoor Adventures in Fulton + Mason Counties


Rachel Mangipane, Guest Writer


Scenic outdoor recreational opportunities await everyone in Fulton and Mason Counties. Enjoy fishing, golfing, hiking, and hunting among sprawling lakes and prairies.  


Banner Marsh State and Wildlife Area  {Canton}   //   You’ll find over 200 bodies of water to explore by boat, kayak, or canoe at Banner Marsh. Fishing is a popular sport here, given the ability to catch a wide variety of Midwest favorites like bass, walleye, crappie, bluegill, and more. Banner Marsh is also popular with hunters and their dogs. 

Canton Parks {Canton}   //   Canton is the largest town in Fulton County and has plenty of parks and facilities to explore. Visit Big Creek Park for all your sports activities, including pickleball, frisbee golf, horseshoes, sledding, and more. Lakeland Park offers boating, fishing and even a SCUBA lake.  

Dickson Mounds  {Lewistown}   //   Take a walk back in time at this archaeological site. A variety of walking trails will take you through forests, fields, and prairie. In the warmer months, you can view the remains of three early Indian buildings. For an indoor break, visit the museum to learn about those who lived along the valley over the last 12,000 years. 

Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge  {Lewistown}   //   Whether by boat or foot, you’ll have plenty to explore at this 2,631 acre wetland. Bird watching is a favorite pastime as pelicans, swans, and geese all use Emiquon as a stopover on migration routes. Emiquon is managed through The Nature Conservancy’s floodplain river restoration efforts, providing an added incentive to get outside. 

Giant Goose Ranch  {Canton}   //   For a family-friendly weekend getaway, book a camping cabin overlooking a stocked fishing lake. There are activities throughout the warmer months, including movie nights, smores, and sermons on Sundays. Fair warning: you might fall in love and find yourself looking into buying or building your own home away from home. 

Wee-Ma-Tuk Hills Country Club  {Cuba}   //  Wee-Ma-Tuck translates into land of many lakes, making for picturesque golfing.  This par 18-hole course offers various elevated tees for all levels of golfers. 


Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge  {Havana}   //   Bird lovers can spend each season in Chautauqua. Winter is prime for spotting bald eagles. Spring brings the migration of white and blue snow geese. Summer hosts white pelicans and herons. Fall hosts migrating ducks. 

Havana Riverfront Park  {Havana}   //   Take a stroll along the Illinois River, ending or starting at the observation deck and raised boardwalk near main street. If you really like the setting, stay longer at a tent or RV camping site. 

Manito Pheasant Habitat Area  {Manito}   //   Pheasant hunters will find a well-maintained grassland habitat perfect for upland game. Outside of hunting season, hikers can explore the 78 acres of prairie. 

Sand Ridge State Forest  {Forest City}   //   You might be surprised to learn the largest of Illinois’ state forests is in Mason County. This 7,200-acre forest offers hiking, equestrian, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling trails through native oak-hickory woodland. Hunters will enjoy the hand trap range and options for hunting deer, turkey, waterfowl, squirrels and more. 

Spring Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area  {Manito}   //   Float alongside a large sandstone bluff in the narrow lake parallel to the Illinois River. If you are new to fishing or boating, you can rent equipment. Hikers, bikers, and horseback riders can explore a 12-mile or 4-mile trail.

Rachel Mangipane, Guest Writer

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