Johnson Creek Recreation Area

Area Status: Open
Johnson Creek Upper Kinkaid Lake

Located on a northwest finger of beautiful Kinkaid Lake, Johnson Creek Recreation Area offers a variety of outdoor activities. Here you will find something for everyone in the family, from camping and kayaking to hiking along the lake, biking the scenic roads and horseback riding.


Recreation Area Brochure/Map

At a Glance

Current Conditions: January 14, 2022 - Water at Campground is turned on but not potable. It is recommended you bring your own drinking and cooking water or boil the water the appropriate length of time before drinking to kill any bacteria.
Operational Hours: Campground open from 3/15 - 12/15
Boat Launch & picnic area - Open year-round.
Reservations: Campground is first come-first served. No reservations.
Area Amenities: Accessible,Boat ramp,Tent camping,Camping trailer,Picnic tables,Toilets,Drinking water,Parking
Fees: Single Campsite - $10/night - 8 people & 2 vehicle max 
Double Campsite - $12/night
Triple Campsite - $15/night There are 20 Campsites
  • Pets are alowed only on a leash.
  • Picnic areas open 6am-10pm.
  • Use trash receptacles. Pack It In, Pack it Out rules apply to the entire trail system.
  • Camp only at designated campsites.
  • Stay on the designated trails.
  • Camp at least 150 feet from the lakeshore.
  • No horseback riding is allowed in the day-use areas.
Closest Towns: Ava, IL 62907
Water: at campground entrance
Restroom: vault toilets
Information Center: Mississippi Bluffs Ranger District (618) 833-8576

General Information


From Murphysboro: Take Highway 149 west 7 miles to Highway 3; then north 4.5 miles on Highway 3 to Highway 151. Turn right onto Highway 151 and go 4 miles to recreation area.
From St. Louis: Take either Highway 3 or Highway 4 south to Chester, IL. Then south 18 miles on Highway 3; turn left onto Highway 151 and go 4 miles to recreation area.

General Notes:

Johnson Creek Campground featuring large campsites, hitching posts and highline poles, it is one of the few Forest Service campgrounds that allows equestrians and their stock. Double and triple campsites accommodate larger groups. Equestrian trails lead from the campground and link to the extensive Kinkaid Lake trail system. Sorry there are no boat rentals at Johnson Creek.

Boat Launch: Recommended for small water craft, such as canoes, kayaks or small boat with motor. It is located in the large parking lot on the left upon entering the recreation area.

Water Activities: One of the larger lakes (2750 acres) in southern Illinois, Kinkaid Lake is popular for fishing, swimming, sunbathing, water skiing, boating, canoeing, kayaking and waterfowl hunting.

Fishing Regulations: Lg./Smallmouth bass -16” min. Daily limit=3
Pure Muskellunge – 48” minimum length
White/Black or Hybrid Crappie – 9: min.  Daily limit=25
For site specific regulations or to obtain a fishing license go to Illinois fishing regulations.  

Watercraft Motor Restrictions:  None.


Trailhead parking lot accommodates horse trailers. Overnight parking allowed at trailhead and boat launch area. 

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Campground Camping

Group Camping

Lake and Pond Fishing

Day Hiking

Horse Camping

Horse Riding

Viewing Wildlife


Group Picnicking

Boating - Motorized

Boating - Non-Motorized





Camping trailer: non-electric
Picnic tables: picnic shelter
Tent camping: non-electric
Toilets: vault toilets
Accessible: campground & vault toilets
Boat ramp: suitable for small watercrafts
Drinking water: available but not potable water

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


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