Morel Mushroom Time! Places to Mushroom Hunt 2024

Finding a cluster of mushrooms is rare!

MUSHROOM HUNTER’S OVERNIGHT PACKAGE! All you need to do is book an overnight reservation with us to have access to over 1,200 acres of prime morel mushroom hunting ground! You can book one night and have two full days of mushroom hunting!! 10% off when you book Sun.-Thurs. Prices online already account for promotional weekday price. Reservations can be made for as low as $100 a night! Additional meal plans, activities such as horseback riding, Polaris UTV rentals (available starting May 1st), bonfire with smores, fishing, sporting clays and much more can all be added as well! Bring your own ATV/UTV or rent one of ours to really cover some ground while you are here!

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April 22nd, 2024 Mushroom Hunting Update-We had a great mushroom hunting season this year at the lodge. It was an early spring with a lot of precipitation which created near ideal morel mushroom growing conditions. We’re on the tail-end of the peak of the season here at the lodge now. During a normal year, we would typically be at the beginning of the season! All you need to do is book an overnight reservation (weekdays starting as low as $100 per night in the Original Lodge) to have access to 1,200 acres of prime morel mushroom hunting property!”

Morel Mushroom Hunting at Heartland Lodge

In West-Central Illinois, where Harpole’s Heartland Lodge is located, morel mushrooms are certainly the mushrooms of choice.  And according to my insider information from the lodge (Gary, of course), we are expecting to have a bumper crop of mushrooms this season! All you have to do to hunt mushrooms at the lodge, which offers over 1,200 acres of prime morel mushroom hunting habitat, is book an overnight reservation!

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What Exactly is a Morel Mushroom?

Morel Mushroom Hunting in Illinois

According to Merriam-Webster, a morel is any of several edible fungi (genus Morchella, especially M. esculenta) having a conical cap with a highly pitted surface.  However, I’m thinking that most of the people who go morel mushroom hunting aren’t really concerned about the dictionary definition – it appears that mushroom hunting is as much of a sport as anything.  And then there are those who enjoy the distinctive taste of their pick – the taste sometimes being described as nutty.  Morels are most normally cooked and eaten fresh, but they can be dried or frozen (but some of the texture and flavor are lost).

What Exactly Does a Morel Look Like?

The morel mushroom has a peaked cap, folded crevices, and is light beige in color – even though there are variations of the color including grays and yellows.  The stalk has a flesh-like feel and appearance and while there are true morel mushrooms – safe to eat – there are also ‘false’ morels that can be toxic.  The University of Illinois Extension has a great, simple explanation of the difference – check it out their Morel Mushroom Hunting Blog – it will help you in determining what you need to be looking for.  You could also buy a good mushroom guidebook – carry it with you – and go with an experienced mushroom hunter.  Remember, there are many wild mushrooms out there so be careful and know your ‘shrooms – safety is key!

So, WHEN do you Find These Prized Delicacies?

The morel mushroom hunting season is short!  The month of April is when morel mushrooms begin to appear in Central Illinois, but the season can last through early May.  The morel hunting season is best after April showers have come and gone – when adequate rainfall has created moist soil conditions in the woods.  As far as temperatures go, there are some differences of opinion on the ideal temperatures – some prefer daytime temps of 60° F with temperatures at night staying in the 40’s.  Others say that the nighttime temps should be at least 55° F while others prefer to wait until it is 60° F at night.  However, most enthusiasts will tell you that hot daytime temps (anything above 90° F) and dry conditions will put a quick stop to the growth of these mushrooms.

Bags of Morel Mushrooms

Now That You Know When to Mushroom Hunt, WHERE Do You Hunt?

The morel mushroom normally grows in wooded areas but can be found growing in a variety of places – including cracks of sidewalks!  But if you don’t have them growing in your sidewalk, head to the woods!  Morels can be found near creeks but one of the more favorable locations is by dead elm trees.  Morels don’t discriminate though – they can also be found near cottonwood, tulip poplar, ash and apple trees.  You will also need to look in undisturbed woods and the wooded edges of fields and river bottoms.  Walk slowly and watch where you step.  If you find one morel, look in the immediate vicinity for more – several morels may be in the same area if growing conditions are right. Southern facing hillsides with dead elm trees are a classic spot to find morels.

At the lodge, you’ll have access to over 1,200 acres of mushroom hunting. When mushrooms are just starting to pop up, Southern exposures will typically be the first place to find them- near the top of the hillsides. As the season progresses, and soil temperatures continue to rise, focus more on the bottoms and along creek beds.

Morel Mushroom Hunting Tools of the Trade

As always, dress appropriately for your hike in the woods – sturdy shoes/boots with socks, long jeans, and a hat – are definites!  And don’t forget your tick spray – from what I am hearing, the ticks are out in droves this year.  So…spray before you go and check yourself (and others) when you return from your hike.  Many people also use a walking stick, which serves two purposes.  You can use it to carefully move plant leaves and push back brush around tree bases, but it also saves from bending over to search spots – great back relief!

Mesh Morel Mushroom BagOne thing I found interesting while researching for this blog – the type of bag or container you take with you can make a difference in the future of mushrooms and mushroom hunting.  Mesh bags are preferred over plastic ones to allow the spores to spread.

So You’ve Pulled Your Tools Together and Have Found That Cluster of Morels- Did You Know There was a Way to Pick Them Too?
The recommended method is to use a sharp knife to cut them off cleanly at the base.  The ‘unspoken’ custom is to harvest all but one or two mushrooms, leaving the smaller ones for wildlife and future mushroom hunters.  Morels can’t be stored for very long so most hunters will eat them the same day they are picked – ensuring the best flavor.

One Very Important Thing to Keep in Mind When You Go Morel Mushroom Hunting- Avoid Trespassing!
Recent land development has decreased the mushrooming territory and many remaining stands of timber have been privatized.  Therefore, you should always get permission from landowners before hunting mushrooms on their property and if hunting on public land, check at a ranger station as some areas may be under protection.

Ladies at Lodge with Morel MushroomsHowever, if you are staying at Heartland Lodge, you already have permission to hunt more than 1,200 acres of prime mushroom hunting ground – all while enjoying the other amenities the lodge offers!

But mushroom season is near – and won’t last long – so book your room now!  Whether you live in Illinois, Missouri or Iowa, come to the lodge and check out their mushroom season!  Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned ‘shroomer, you won’t regret it!  And grab your camera – take pictures of your day in the woods – you’ll enjoy it even if you don’t find any morels.

Expectations when Morel Mushroom Hunting

While we hope everyone goes home with a bag full of mushrooms, they call it mushroom “hunting” for a reason. Some will find the lucky jackpot of mushrooms and others will not. To keep from being disappointed we recommend you come with the mindset that you will enjoy the great outdoors, be able to relax and enjoy the wonderful accommodations. I have had many mushroom-less days; however, I have never not enjoyed meandering through the woods in the spring, listening to songbirds sing, pondering at the beautiful spring wildflowers, redbuds and dogwoods blooming. If you go home with some mushrooms, that’s the cherry on top!

– Lori Biehl

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Last Updated: April 22nd, 2024

39 thoughts on “Morel Mushroom Time! Places to Mushroom Hunt 2024

  1. Checking how much a guide would cost for taking a couple people out to hunt motels. Or if we came out to horseback ride could we get a guide for later to take us shrooming? Thanks

  2. Checking, if we can’t stay the night can we pay to come out and mushroom hunt for the day?

    Thank you

    Koleen Starkey

  3. Was wondering about the horseback riding looking for mushrooms or paying for a day?? Thanks so much!! Love the place wife & I stayed while back & went horseback riding!

  4. Hello! We were wondering if you still have the horseback riding and mushroom hunting for this Spring? We have 2 adults and a 13 year old. What would you recommend for accommodation and please provide detail for a good weekend for above activity. Thank you!

    1. Hello Christine, yes we do still offer horseback and mushroom hunting here at the lodge! We’ll send you an email with pricing. Thank you!!

  5. I would like best time to reserve a room for 2 overnight and cost of a room please. Thank you

    1. Hi Darryl, thanks for your interest in staying with us. We do not offer guided mushroom hunts but we can help point you in the right direction.. We will send you an email referencing the activities and lodging cost. Feel free to visit our activities and amenities page for additional information or give us a call. 217-734-2526 Thank you!

  6. Hello Gary, I’m very interested in staying a couple nights at the lodge to do some mushroom hunting with my wife. Could you please send me pricing and activity’s thank you so much

  7. Hi, i would like info/price on renting a room for 2 nights for the mushroom special 15% off. Could u please let me know if there r still openings for prime hunting time. Thank u!

  8. Hi, i looking to rent a room for 2 for 2 nights for the mushroom special 15% discount and would love info on prices n avalibility for near the end of April. Thank u!

  9. Can we still get the mushroom hunt special? Are the mushrooms still out? What are the rates for 2 senior adults?

  10. This sounds like an amazing vacation! Heard a lot of good! Would you be as kind to please send me pricing? Thank you!

    Morels! Morels! Morels!

  11. Please send info on your lodge and about the morel mushroom picking. Never had that kind of mushrooms and always wanted to try.


  12. Are we allowed to drive our atv mushroom weekend I cant walk long distances and would be great if we could drive to the area and park to search?

  13. I know it is not an exact science but what would be a good weekend for Morels, my wife would love this, We would also be interested in horse back riding and fishing if available. This would make her year and be an awesome surprise. Any advice for booking dates would need appreciated. Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Nicholas, thanks for inquiring about a mushroom hunt. This spring is looking like it might be early mushroom season for us. But typically around the third weekend of April is a good time to come. Fishing and horse rides will be available during that time frame as well. Please let us know if you have any other questions.

  14. Helo,

    I receive your newsletter and was planning on coming with my husband Saturday, May 8th or 15th. We would be very interested in horseback riding and mushroom hunting. Would that be too late in the season for mushrooms? Thank you

  15. I was wondering if I could get some info on pricing and when a good time to book is for morel hunting season. Thank you!

  16. I’d like to get some info on the pricing of a weekend stay for 2 adults and 2 kids, for mushroom hunting? If you still have anything available

    1. Hi Nicole, thanks for reaching out! We charge the full amount at the time of booking. Thank you! 217-734-2526

  17. Looks interesting and looking to visit in mid April to do some mushroom hunting. Is that a good time for them ?

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