St Ellen Mine Park has a great little lake to paddle around on that is close to home for me. Originally a Peabody coal mine the 85 acres grounds were converted into a park with a lake, several ponds and walking trails. The park has it's own personality and scenery much different than the local landscape. This being much welcomed.
St Ellen Mine Park is a county park in St Clair County. It borders O'Fallon, IL and Fairview Heights, IL. The lake has one main body and a smaller canal like run that opens up into a cove where I always see waterfowl and fish breaking the water's surface. Anglers tell me there is good bass fishing as well as active bluegill and catfish.
Along much of the shore line are tall reeds that cut the lake view off from the walking trail so you feel more secluded. A large part of the east shore line is open to the back yards of a residential area but rarely do I even see anyone in their back yards.
The water is flat and get slightly choppy in the main body when windy. The canal and cove is always very still glassy water. The scenery for most of the lake (residential shore line withstanding) is very natural with the reeds adding to the lake's beauty. After paddling a while I find myself positioning in the center of the lake just to soak in the surroundings and relax.
There is really only one entrance onto the lake via a concrete boat ramp and small dock. It's a common sight to see an aluminum bass boat on the lake fishing although I rarely ever see more than one other boat. When I shot my GoPro video (see below) there was another kayaker on the lake. Boat motors are limited to a trolling motor, thank goodness.
There is paved parking and porta-johns near the boat ramp. There are a couple other smaller lakes (large ponds) within short portage distance of the main lake which I have not paddled on yet but probably will at some point.
All in all it is an enjoyable small lake to kill a couple hours on. I wouldn't make this a destination for a road trip but if you live close I'd give it a shot.
My GoPro video of St Ellen Mine Park Lake:
Hotels and restaurants very close including a grocery store and Walmart.