Fifteen centuries ago, melt-waters from the last Ice Age deposited vast amounts of sand along the Illinois River valley, which have since been sculpted into massive dunes. Following glaciation, there was a 1000 year drought and Southwestern species migrated in, including prickly pear cactus! The 7,500-acre Sand Ridge State Forest dunes are clothed with dry-mesic oak-hickory forest and pocked with sand prairie habitats. Here Northern Harrier, Rough-legged Hawk, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Dark-eyed Junco, and American Goldfinch abound. Common nesting species include Red-tailed Hawk, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Whip-poor-will, Red-headed Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Wood-Pewee, House Wren, Gray Catbird, Red-eyed Vireo, Summer Tanager, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
Forty-four miles of marked trails, ranging from 1.5 to 15 miles each, and 120 miles of fire lanes offer unequaled opportunities to the hiker, back packer, horseback rider or snowmobiler.
Horseman's Park offers a staging area for equestrian camping, and horseback riding activities with hitching rails, water, pit toilets and a shelter area. Horseman's Park Campground offers Class C camping for the equestrian community.