Jackson Falls, Illinois is a 4.5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Golconda, Illinois that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, rock climbing, camping, and horses and is accessible year-round. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.
Jackson Falls trail follows the top of the bluff (southeast) around to the "dog leg" where you can walk into the canyon. Rock Climbing and Bouldering are favorite activities. Rock climbing and bouldering between three water falls.
I took the opportunity to ring in 2017, by making a day trip to Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois. We rolled out of St. Louis at 7:30am and after a 2-1/2 hour drive, we were at one of the many trailheads to Jackson Falls Recreational Area. Finding the trailhead was easy using the AllTrails app, but what was not easy was navigating the countless trails in the area without a map. I committed a rookie mistake and did not have a map printed or downloaded, nor did i download a previous route to my GPS or phone, and the area has zero cell service for AT&T so getting any help on the trail was not possible. That being said, we felt pretty good as the trail we started following 48C was really well marked (we went right at the top of the falls, eventually the trail number changed and then eventually there were no markers at all. We kept hiking along the top of the bluff wall, knowing that eventually the topography would change and we could sneak along the base of the bluff to get to the bottom of the waterfall. We finally came to some old fence posts / trail markers and butt-slid and scrambled down a slope to the base of the bluff and picked up another trail that followed the base. The trail was half rock scrambling, and half guessing which way it went...but we pressed on always keeping the bluff to our left and using the trails when they were noticeble (very very few trail markings). The geology the hike along with all of the moss and ferns had already placed this hike among my favorite, but when we finally made our way back to the base of Jackson Falls (about 3-1/2 miles or so after we started) this hike shot up to my favorite Missouri or Illinois hike to date. What an incredible place to enjoy lunch.
As we were finishing up lunch, three people on horses (the trails in the area are mixed use, and you need to watch where you are stepping to avoid the horse crap that may be on the trail) came up along the base (it was amazing to see horses navigate the rocky terrain with ease). We were hoping there was a trail up at the base of the falls, but were told if we headed along the bluff in the direction we were hiking, it would be another 3+ miles before we could get up on the bluff, but there may be a way to scramble up the bluff near the second waterfall (but the rider indicated it had been years since he had been in the area, and wasn't sure). He was right, and once we found the second waterfall, we were able to scramble our way up with only one slightly hairy push on wet rock. All in all, this was an awesome hike, but go prepared. There are lots of holes, crevices, and rocks to roll ankles on, and the moss covered rock is slick as snot.
Ascent: 634 ft
Descent: 660 ft
Max Elevation: 630 ft
Tags: hiking, Jackson Falls Recreational Area, Shawnee National Forest
This was an awesome hike. It was marked well. It is very remote to get to. When we got there it was well populated with people primitive camping, rock climbing, and horseback riding. It did not feel crowded when we were hiking. There seemed to be lots of available areas with established routes if you are looking to rock climb. Burden falls road is also called county route 8. Glen street falls road is only called street road on my phone map. If you download the AllTrails app for you phone it is very helpful to find the area and to stay on the trail.
Sense of direction is needed but this place is incredible
Two amazing waterfalls. Trail was confusing and became lost for a little bit but got out safe.
was beautiful! spent quite a while trying to find the trail head then finally just walked the road till I found some tiny trails leading to the .048 and it took a while to find my way down. ran into some awesome people that showed me a good spot to climb down just 25 ft on the west side of the little wooden bridge, I wasn't afraid to get lost, more so just noticing what side of the canyon I was on and remember that there's tons of little trails to the road on the east side. It was so breathtaking, I do agree the road is quite rough. I am an inexperienced 6 speed driver and it was a bit nerve racking but the view is more than worth it. trail sign's so need much improvement
Amazing place, awful directions. Got lost for 7 hours and hiked 10 miles. It's such a shame, there is lots of trails, but the Ranger won't be bothered to clean up all the beer bottles and trash on the trails south near the lake. It's sad, this place has so much potential
This place is amazing. That being said, with all the information I was able to get from 3 different guide books, we could've gotten dangerously lost. Entries/exits in and out of the valley were very hard to find. We had to backtrack a few times. Trails need to be better marked. We over shot the way out by quite a ways. When we finally did get out, we had to walk another mile on the road to get back to the truck. Thank goodness there were 2 people in different areas to help us along. Also, as of May 23, 2016, if you don't have a high clearance vehicle, don't attempt it. Overall the road in wasn't TOO bad but there were 2 spots that made me cringe even in my off-road Toyota 4x4. Also nowhere to back up or turn around.
Aside from all that- the trails were AWESOME. Lots of boulders and good trails. My favorite of all our hikes that weekend!!!
The waterfall itself was beautiful. But it was extremely confusing trying to figure out how to even get to the trail. The trail isn't clearly marked. We found the waterfall walking through, and we thought that we were going the same direction on our return, but we never saw the waterfall again. The trail needs to be better marked throughout. The rocks and trees and actual forest were beautiful though!
Awesome trail, just rather difficult to go down the road to get to it! It was bumpy, muddy and had huge ruts, I'm sure a 4x4 has no issues, but I did in a Jetta. It was worth the drive though!
A great trail for a Sunday afternoon. The hike was a little over 2 miles in to the Falls. Lots of rappelling going on and an easily marked trail with 048 bringing you in, but finding your way down the bluffs was a little difficult. Down the bluffs to 049 and you walk right in to the Falls. Will go back again, for sure.
I would review this trail as much did Larry Jarret did a year ago. From the trail head we followed 048. It was well marked until about mile 2. We hiked a little further until it was clear that the trail wasn't marked any further and we backtracked to the last blaze. By happenstance we saw two hikers below us managed to ascend to the ridge about an 1/8th of a mile ahead of us and realized the way down to the canyon. Easily missed. We then managed to backtrack to the waterfall using 049 and enjoy some time there. Getting out was also easily missed as we passed second waterfall using 049 and had to backtrack again and ascend our way out by climbing somewhat of a Rick staircase.
when I went it was late summer, everything had dried up from creek beds to streams. There was a pool of stagnet water at the bottom of the first fall. The over all beauty of the place was great. Caves with lush surroundings, high bluffs and tranquil trails. There was rock climbing and repelling. This would be a good place to hike during a summer rain or there after.
Very easy trail from trail head to the top of the falls. If you go left, and follow the cliff tops trail, you'll eventually make it to the way down. Once down, go right. You'll follow the trail to the bottom of the falls. I suggest going to the falls, then back. Its easy to get lost. I wish there was a trail map available.
Very beautiful little spot though!
very easy hike from trail head to rim of waterfall. we took off on left bluff did not make it far enough to make it down into the canyon so we turned around. plan on making the trip back though. nice easy hike.
Great waterfall and tall bluffs make for an ideal Day Hiking adventure in the area. Truly a Southern IL Gem!