We just went here last weekend! This was my first experience with hike-in hike-out camping and this trail ended up being perfect for it.
After enjoying the Garden of the Gods trails, we hiked up the left leg of this trail (through the forest up on top of the bluffs) and camped in the lee of a small hill, just behind the scenic outlook area. There ended up being many campers nearby that night but we didn't hear any of them! The silence was beautiful and the stars were spectacular. Really easy to make a campfire too, tons of dead wood around (we went when it was dry and hadn't rained in a few days). Heard some coyotes at night, but no animals disturbed us. I slept like a baby!
We did not find any sources of water on this venture so if you are camping here bring plenty of it with you! There are outhouses within a long walk / short drive from the trail parking lot, if you're not into digging holes (but bring your own hand sanitizer). There are pumps located in other areas of the park but we did not see any close by.
Saw a few pieces of trash left by others but this forest is in very good shape overall. Be responsible with your things though! Don't litter, and keep the place nice for others to use! I also see people in these reviews are drinking on the trails... alcohol is NOT PERMITTED in any National Park! Don't say you weren't warned.
Great place to hike and camp. Our first time being there we didn't know what to expect. There were alot of day hikers as well as over night campers, we of course camped right in the middle. We had campers in and around our camp at all hours of the night trying to find their friends or a camp site. Next time we will go more off trail, but it made it interesting for sure! lol. Bring plenty of water. and we never found any water sources other than the stagnant pond on the way in, and not sure I would even want to filter that, unless I absolutely had too.
Enjoyed the trail, lots of fun to scramble around. We had 30+lb packs on and the dog with an 8lb pack, definitely go clockwise.
We picked up trash on the way out, beer cans and bottles :( Please don't litter.
Dog had a great time and so did we, even in the rain.
Go, explore it, you won't regret it.
Great little loop! Rock formations and caves galore, lots of climbing around exploring. There is a short, unmarked trail that leads up to the top of the other side of the bluff. Didn't have time to take it but if I'm in the neighborhood again will certainly get up there.
Great short hike after visiting Garden of the Gods Observation Trail. There is plenty of scenery and elevation to make you appreciate being in Shawnee National Forest. This is a short hike at 1.5miles to 2 miles, although at times it felt longer. There were plenty of places to stop for a picnic, and during January 2015, the trail lacked markers in places, but you could discern the path through the leaves just barely. There were also a few caves to check out along the trail as well, and walking through the pines when you loop back on this lollipop trail was pretty cool too.
Started off Indian Pt Backpacker park lot and went below Garden of the Gods valley. Hiked this in early winter 2013 and hiked about 3 miles on river to river trail until it got dark. Really peaceful in winter, no snow but icles hanging off clifss is nice. Plan to backpack in here next Dec2014.