My buddy and I drove down from Belleville, IL early on Saturday, got our parking permit from the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge ranger station and then drove another 10 'minutes to the put in. It was a small parking lot off of Devils Kitchen Lake near a feeder creek, it had obviously been used for put ins before.
Then headed down the "right leg of the headless devil" the lake looks like a headless man on map. This right leg will take us to a creek that is inside the Panthers Den Wilderness area. You cannot camp on Crab Orchard land, but the wilderness is part of the Shawnee Natl. forest.
The lake is beautiful, sloping sides with high ridges, sandstone palisades in places and it's full of dead standing timber that date from way back. Watch yourself these logs will roll you. Also swimming is not allowed for this very reason.
We paddled back against a bit of wind and got down to the foot of the leg, and into the creek. There were a couple of logs to portage but no big deal, and found a nice sandstone bluff to camp under.
It's perfect and quiet for canoes and kayaks. The lake has motor restrictions, and wake rules...
Parking permits; vary based on your intended time
West of Marion, IL and south on refuge road to the ranger station
USGA free maps, and Google terrain/ hybrids
- Trip Duration: Day Trip
- Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water