Trail of Tears State Forest is a 6 mile loop trail located near Jonesboro, Illinois that features a great forest setting and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Forest hike on forest fire trails (fairly wide and not overgrown). There are connecting trails between the fire lanes that usually drop down into the hollows and connect ridge top fire trails. You can do loop trails, out and back or point-to-point. The trail system in this forest lets you decide how far you wan to hike. You can hike 1/2 mile or 12+ miles. You are hiking primarily on wide fire trails that are connected in some locations by hiking trails to provide loop options. To see your options look at the tracks. The first track I did started on main street north (FT 31) went out to lost trail and then to red shale hill and back to trail head. About 5.5 miles. Some elevation gain depending on the trail options you select. Red shale hill drops approximately 300 feet. The connecting trails in the hollows are overgrown and you do need to keep an eye on the trail signs to stay on the trail.
Great place to camp!
The fire trails at this state forest provide many options for short or longer hikes (loop, out and back, point-to-point). The fire trails are wider forest roads with some connecting trails. The connecting trails typically drop down into the hollows and then climb back up to the ridge top to connect with the fire trails. So you can hike 1/2 mile or plot a 12+ mile route. The forest is awesome (yea I know overused) with old growth (huge trees). I hiked in August, so the views were not that spectacular but the that will change in the fall and winter. I hiked north on FT 31 (also referred to as north main) and then onto the Lost trail which looped back to hickory hill trail and then to red shale hill trail. Red shale dropped into the creek valley (down about 300 ft). The trail along the creek was over grown (which is typical in this area during the summer) but well marked with trail signs so you could follow it. I did miss a connecting trail to the hickory hill trail and looped back to the top of red shale (no problem). I put a link in the trail information to the park map. The fire lanes are clearly marked (at least they were on north main). I will hike the south portion of the main FT in the future and provide a track. I estimate that will be another 6 mile loop. So if you combined both loops, you could do 12 miles. Be sure and bring all of your water. I did not see any water sources at the park facilities. The bottom drainage of the hollows may or may not have water depending on the amount of rain.