Cedar Lake

The City of Carbondale received a grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) Section 319(h) Grant Program to install shoreline, gully, and streambank best management practices (BMPs) in the Cedar Lake/Big Muddy River watershed (HUC 0714010612) to reduce nonpoint source pollution to protect water quality. BMPs will include: 

• Approximately 3,200 linear feet of lake shoreline stabilization done utilizing stone riprap applied by special application boats.

• Approximately 15,000 linear feet of gully stabilization utilizing limestone riprap check dams and, where appropriate, constructing 250-grade stabilization structures (Water and Sediment Control Basins).

• Approximately 2,000 linear feet of streambank stabilization, including shaping existing banks and stabilizing with geotextile fabric and stone riprap. Toe protection and end transitions will include trenching fabric and riprap into an existing stable material. 

TOTAL PROJECT COST:   $    1,250,000.00                 

Grantor (IEPA) Share:    $       750,000.00 60.0% of Total project cost

Grantee (City) Share:     $       500,000.00 40.0% of Total Project cost 

This is the City’s 3rd round of this type of work. Similar projects were completed to improve and protect the water quality of Cedar Lake in 2011 and 2016. This project aims to reduce annual nonpoint source pollution loads by approximately 1,900 tons of sediment, 1,900 lbs of phosphorus, and 3,800 lbs of nitrogen. 

Field research and project design are underway. Construction is scheduled to begin in June 2023 and be completed in November 2023. Updates will be posted here upon commencement of construction.

Cedar Lake Recreation Plan

The City of Carbondale is working on a recreation plan for its property on Cedar Lake. The project proposes improvements to existing amenities, such as Poplar Camp Beach, the boat ramp, and natural-surface trails, and expanding access to various activities and those with limited abilities. Cedar Lake is not only a beautiful outdoor gem of Southern Illinois, but it is also the primary water source for Carbondale and surrounding communities, so all proposed developments prioritize the safety of the water. Please view the presentation presented to City Council at the April 25, 2023, Council meeting. 

Cedar Lake

Five minutes south of Carbondale is the city reservoir, Cedar Lake, a 1,750-acre reservoir in Southern Illinois 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 to supply 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 follow the Cedar Lake Rules & Regulations.

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. 

NOTE: Please be advised that our operating hours are subject to change due to unforeseen staffing issues. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. For the most up-to-date information regarding our hours of operation, kindly check our Facebook page or call 618-549-8441. We appreciate your understanding and continued support.

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
  • 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 suitable for the current beach season
  • Swimmers must exit the water 30 minutes before closing time
  • Open through Labor Day weekend

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) beginning 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 book 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 only allowed at Cedar Lake but not 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 for approximately .5 mile to Cedar Creek Road, travel west on Cedar Creek Road about a mile, and follow the signs to Beach on Poplar Camp Road or for the boat ramp at the end of Cedar Creek Road.