Easter Hike | Argyle Lake State Park

by Jim and Melanie

Our family gathered for a potluck dinner on Easter at a country church in Illinois. On Saturday, we drove down to the area from our home in Iowa. It took a little more than two hours. In the area is a state park called Argyle Lake. It had been many years since either of us visited the park. We decided to spend part of the nice day hiking. We chose a trailhead near the dam.

The 1700 acre park, with a 93 acre lake, was established in 1948 by the state of Illinois. The site was formerly known as Argyle Hollow. It served as a stage coach stop on the line between Galena and Beardstown, IL. The hollow was also home to many drift coal mines dug into the hillsides. The park today suffers from neglect by the state. Their lack of funds is obvious. The trails we hiked really needed attention. Tick spray with DEET was a necessary precaution, given the brush impeding on the trail.

One trail bordered the lake. We encountered this pair of Canada Geese sitting on a branch.

Shrubs and bushes were leafed out. Some of the tall trees were showing small leaves. Others just showed bulging buds but no leaves. Some wild flowers like violets and dandelions were blooming. Trillium about 8-10 inches tall were quite common.

There were also many patches of Mayapple (Podophyllum). They grow from a common root source and form large colonies. These photos show various stages of emergence. The left one is about 3 inches tall. The one on the right is about 12 inches.

We moved to a new location after our first hikes and sat on a bench to watch some guys fishing and a goose on the nest. It was in plain view and about 30 feet from the roadway. It will be a miracle if any of the eggs and hatchlings survive that location. The nest can be accessed easily by people, pets, raccoons, etc.

While we sat watching the goose and fishermen, we noticed a 2 foot long snake in the water. It disappeared too quickly for a photo. We also saw a 12 inch wide turtle on a log on the opposite side of the water inlet. When it submerged, we walked around the inlet and sat down to wait for it to surface again. It never did. But, there was this 3 inch wide turtle who didn’t seem to mind our being there.

The trails we hiked were poorly maintained and didn’t have a great view. But between some challenging footing and the beautiful weather, it was a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon.


13 thoughts on “Easter Hike | Argyle Lake State Park

  1. Gary L Dorothy

    Thanks, Jim. It was good for the botanist in me to see a glimpse of my Illinois woodland history. I’m still a champion for the trees, national parks, wild lands, and small parks like Argyle!

    1. Jim R Post author

      Thank you, Gary. I can tell from your photographs and your newly designed yard that you are still the botanist. Your support for things that grow and things that offer beauty is appreciated.

      Thanks for stopping by today.

  2. Mrs. P

    I have found that almost any walk in nature turns out to be a good one as long as they are sans mishaps that cause bodily injury.

    You have an extensive understanding of plants. I’ll have to do quite a bit more study to keep up with you!

  3. shoreacres

    The variety of sights — flora and fauna both — is just great. I just found out that we have at least one species of trillium here, but its range is quite limited, and northeast of me. I was interested in the mayapple. I read that Menomini Indians boiled the entire plant and splashed the liquid over their potato plants to control insects.

    We have mayhaws, but that’s a tree, and the source of some of the best jelly you’ll ever eat. The Easter bunny didn’t bring me any chocolate or eggs, but he did produce a pint of mayhaw jelly, which was far better.

    I’m glad you had such a nice afternoon. it sounds relaxed and enjoyable.

    1. Jim R Post author

      No chocolate? Have you been misbehaving? I’ve never had any mayhaw. I will look for it at the farmers’ market.

      We do enjoy our hikes and outings. 🙂

  4. jaicommunity

    Ah – familiar Park. We visit Argyle every October for the Illinois trout season. We were just there about three weeks ago. It was really beautiful this year – warm, leaves changing, fishing was decent. Chinese beetles were the only drawback this year. Oh my goodness we’re they thick – was hard to be outside from about 1pm until about 5pm when it cooled off. Great park

    1. Jim R Post author

      Where are there trout down there? Argyle suffers from the budget woes, too. I grew up not far from there. The beetles in that area were really out in huge numbers this year. We were not too bad off here.

        1. Jim R Post author

          It did. I had no idea. When I fished Argyle with dad as a kid, we only caught sunfish and catfish. I gave up on fishing. 😦

        2. jaicommunity

          Now you have a reason to go check it out again. I believe it is always the third week of October each year. It’s a good time and you are pretty much guaranteed to catch a limit of five each day. We always do – we cooked some on the grill this year. Good stuff.

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