After a quick 50-foot descent from the western edge of the Deer Run Campground, this 2-mile route combines two loops in the bottomland around Clear Creek, dammed in 1964 to create the park’s 120-acre namesake lake (a mash-up of the surrounding county names, Sangamon and Christian).
At the bottom of the wooded bluff, turn right to head north to the banks of the South Fork Sangamon River and turn left toward its convergence with Clear Creek. Lush riparian greenery lines the muddy trail as it skirts the banks of the creek. Continue south, closing this route’s northern loop at mile 1 Watch for horses crossing the creek at a dip-worthy portage just 0.4 mile south of the junction.
You’ll pass towering cottonwoods within earshot of the Sangchris Lake spillway on this route’s southernmost stretch—watch for great blue heron along the creek and the park’s resident albino deer. At the edge of the campground bluff, the trail turns north. Follow it back to the bluff-trail junction and retrace your steps uphill to the trailhead.
This spillway and bottomland habitat flood regularly; call the park’s office at (217) 498-9208 to check trail conditions before your visit.
-Mapped by Ted Villaire