Decatur Area Outdoor & Wildlife
Parks & Recreation
Biking, running, cross-country skiing, sledding, trails, birding, golfing, fishing, disc golf, swimming, and more…our great outdoors offers something for everyone!
If you thought that “acreage” referred only to the farm fields throughout Central Illinois, just wait until you explore the more than 2,000 lush acres at various public parks throughout Decatur and Forsyth!
With 30+ miles of scenic shoreline and many convenient public access points, Lake Decatur is a year-round lure for fishing, boating, water sports, bird and wildlife watching, or simply relaxing!
Red Tail Run Golf Club by Raymond Floyd
520 West Grove Rd.
Decatur, IL 62521
(217) 422-2211 for Tee Times
Host of IHSA Class A & AA Girls’ State Tournaments
Designed by legendary Hall of Famer Raymond Floyd, this signature course features large undulating greens, wide rolling fairways, and native Prairie grasses. Located on Decatur’s south side, Red Tail Run has five tee locations and multiple angles, making it a course for players of all skill levels.
Hickory Point Golf Club
727 Weaver Rd.
Decatur, IL 62526
(217) 421-7444 for Tee Times
Host of the Decatur-Forsyth Classic presented by Tate & Lyle and the Decatur Park District, an LPGA Symetra Tour Event
Host of IHSA Class AA Girls’ State Tournament
Hickory Point Golf is enjoyed by golfers of all skill levels. Its flat, wide fairways provide a foundation for learning, while long distances and the ever-present wind provide a challenge for more experienced golfers. Designed by leading golf course architect Larry Packard, Hickory Point features a lighted driving range and special 6-hole short course for beginning and youth golfers.
Overlook Adventure Park – Mini Golf Complex
2501 E. Nelson Park Rd.
Decatur, IL 62521
This Decatur Park District complex includes two state of the art 18-hole miniature golf courses and a clubhouse as part of the Lakeshore Landing development on Lake Decatur. Cherry Berry frozen yogurt and Ted’s Taters restaurant are both located within the clubhouse. Those with wheelchairs and walkers are able to participate in the fun, as 9 holes of each course are accessible. For information on dates, times, and prices, visit their Facebook Page.
Parks & Wildlife
1455 W. Fairview Park Dr., Decatur
Located in Decatur’s historic West End, Fairview Park was established in 1857 by the Macon County Agricultural Society for the purpose of holding county fairs. The name “Fairview Park” was created from the merger of “fairgrounds” and “review” in recognition of the Decatur Review’s contest to name the park. The Decatur Park District acquired the land in 1924. Over the years, Fairview Park has grown to 181 acres and includes the Fairview Family Aquatic Center, Dreamland Lake, Rose Garden, Ursula K. Beck Tennis Center, D-Town Skate Park, and Fido Fields Dog Park. The park is also home to a popular, paved bicycling/running trail, which is part of the Park District’s larger trail system, extending north to Greendell Park and south to the Macon County Conservation District’s Rock Springs Center. For those traveling without their bicycles, Tandemonium Tandem Bicycle Rental has you covered. Located inside Fairview Park, just south of the children’s play area and large pavilion, they offer a variety of bicycles for rent as well as free helmet rentals. For information on hours, pricing, etc., visit their website at http://tandemoniumbicycle.com/.
200 Nelson Blvd., Decatur
Established in 1912, Nelson Park is nestled along the shores of Lake Decatur and is the community’s largest park. It was named in honor of William E. Nelson, a longtime Decatur resident and Circuit Judge. With 187 acres, the park is site of an exciting new development called Lakeshore Landing, a premier regional destination place that will provide big city amenities in a beautiful lakeside setting at Decatur’s lakefront. Completed elements include the Nelson Park Dog Park, Overlook Adventure Mini Golf Course, 18-hole disc golf course, Nelson Park marina, and Snack Shack and Beach House restaurants. Coming soon will be a high ropes course, destination playground, amphitheater, Great Lawn, and water park.
705 Spitler Park Drive
Mt. Zion, IL 62549
Spitler Woods is a State Natural Area of 202.5 acres that is named for Ida B. Spitler, who donated the land to the State of Illinois in 1937. A beautiful nature preserve and natural area of white oak and hickory trees, it offers hiking trails, picnicking, horseshoe pits, drinking water, enclosed heated shelter pavilion and toilets.
Groups of 25 or more are welcome and encouraged to use the park’s facilities, but are required to register in advance with the site office to avoid crowding or scheduling conflicts.
1455 W. Fairview Park Dr., Decatur
500 Forsyth Parkway
Forsyth, IL 62535
Forsyth Park covers 75 acres, is the home of two pavilions, (with grills, picnic tables and electricity if needed), play structures, a sand volleyball court, three tennis courts, and four softball/baseball fields. The park has four separate off-street parking areas, wooded and open bike path areas and walking trails, two fishing ponds and a wildlife observation stand. It also features wooded areas along with spacious areas of open field. The park is ADA accessible, and contains public restrooms, rest stop benches and water fountains.
Many species of birds thrive in Decatur and Macon County, thanks to protected areas like the Macon County Conservation District, with its tall Prairie grasses, woodlands, ponds, and streams. Lake Decatur and the Sangamon River attract various species of waterfowl, as well as herons, hawks and eagles.
Another great site for avian observation is Sportsman’s Park, located on South Lost Bridge Road. There you’ll find waterfowl, water lilies and opportunities for bank fishing. This is also the location of the Decatur Park District’s Schaub Floral Display Center, Horticulture Greenhouse, and Norma Schaub Memorial Garden.
Grab your binoculars, birder’s field guide, and go!
While you can spot wildlife almost anywhere in Macon County, the Macon County Conservation District’s Rock Springs Nature Center is the perfect place to start. The nature center provides a great introduction to local wildlife through exhibits, live animals, its indoor “Window on Wildlife,” and plenty of outdoor hiking trails.
The Macon County Conservation District is your entryway to over 3,200 acres of natural areas, wildlife, and outdoor recreation. Visit the website for information on the several conservation areas open throughout the county.
Sand Creek Horseback Riding Area
For those who have their own horse, Sand Creek Conservation Area includes over 7.5 miles of well-groomed horseback riding trails through forests, prairies, and open grasslands.
Fishing, water sports, sailing and recreational boating opportunities abound on Lake Decatur. Use the courtesy docks at Nelson Park Marina to take a break and grab a bite to eat at the Beach House Restaurant, replenish boat fuel, enjoy the park for a while, and then hit the water again!
For watercraft licensing requirements, fees, maps, safety, and regulations, contact the City of Decatur Lake Management Office at 217/424-2837 or visit the Lake Patrol office at 2203 E. Lake Shore Drive.
The Garden Path
3838 E. Lost Bridge Rd. (Corner of Lost Bridge & Baltimore)
Decatur, IL 62521
(217) 423-PATH (7284)
Open: April through October weather permitting
Hours: Monday through Saturday 9 – 5pm
Monday through Saturday 9 – 3pm (July and August)
Located across a panoramic view of Lake Decatur, The Garden Path is a two acre ‘mini-botanical’ garden featuring 35 display gardens. These include sun and shade gardens, hosta gardens and courtyard, hydrangea gardens, bird and butterfly gardens, large ideas garden, enabling and healing gardens and more! Many of the plants featured are available at the attached garden center. Call for tours, workshops and kid’s activities.
71 S. Country Club Rd.
Decatur, IL 62521
(217) 421-7436 for Gazebo Rental Info
Scovill Gazebo Gardens – Rows of stunning annual flowers greet visitors to Scovill Park in the Gazebo Garden. The flowers bloom from May 1 through the season’s first frost. Situated amongst towering trees and beautiful flower beds, the gazebo is a popular site for weddings, prom pictures, and family outings.
Scovill Oriental Gardens – This beautiful, Chinese-inspired garden was built by Rose & Guy Scovill in the 1920’s and 30’s. In 1948, the Scovill family deeded their farm to the Decatur Park District. Today, the gardens also feature the Wikoff Oriental Garden Terrace. Located in Scovill Park, the gardens are open from 7:30 a.m. – dusk in season.
Biking & Hiking Trails
Walk, run, or ride on our community’s extensive network of accessible nature trails that take you miles from streets and traffic to tranquil areas of natural flora and fauna. Visit the Macon County Conservation District or Decatur Park District websites for more information.
Fairview-Kiwanis-Rock Springs Bike Trail
This bikeway connects three area parks with a 3.2 mile, 10-foot wide, handicapped accessible trail for bicyclists and hikers alike. Take a snack or picnic basket along to enjoy the designated picnic areas along the way. View a map
Friends Creek Conservation Area
This park is located 18 miles North of Decatur on Route 48 near Argenta. It features three different nature trails, varying in lengths and difficulty. You’ll also find a playground and pavilions for picnicking. Visit the Friend’s Creek Conservation Area website for more information.
Griswold Conservation Area
Located 14 miles southwest of Decatur off Route 48 near Blue Mound. Hike the trail up the glacial kame to the lookout tower for sweeping views of the surrounding countryside. Griswold offers picnic facilities and a playground. Visit the Griswold Conservation Area website for more information.
Rock Springs Conservation Area
Hiking trails are rated easy to difficult, with varying distances. All trails offer frequent opportunities to observe wildlife. Be sure to walk through the Pine Forest, or seize the opportunity to schedule a guided nature walk with a naturalist. The entrance to this park is off Rock Springs Road. Call 217-429-7708 to schedule a guided walk. Visit the Rock Springs Conservation Area website for more information.
Sand Creek Conservation Area
Hike the trails to the bluff overlooking Sand Creek for panoramic views of the countryside. The park offers over 7.5 miles of trails with varying difficulty. Maintained within the trail system is a section of the historic Paris-Springfield Road, which the Thomas Lincoln Family traveled when they relocated to Decatur from Indiana in 1830. Visit the Sand Creek Conservation Area website for more information.
The Forsyth Trail System
Nestled throughout the Village of Forsyth on the northern boundaries of Decatur are public parks, open fields and playground facilities tied together with miles of paved biking and hiking trails. Near the fishing pond in Forsyth Village Park is a wildlife observation stand. Call 217-877-9445 for additional information.
Friends Creek Campground
The only public campground in Macon County, Friends Creek Campground is located at Friends Creek Conservation Area, in Cisco, IL. It offers many amenities and provides a quiet place to relax, explore the outdoors, and spend time with friends and family.