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Best trail that we have hiked in the Shawnee. It was challenging at times and the views were rewarding!

backpacking
6 days ago

My group camped here for the night. The area is amazing. We took the right path from the top of the falls and camped on the top of the bluff. There is plenty of flat area up here to camp. We arrived too late in the day to be able to find a way down to the floor to really see the falls. The trail on the right side was very easy to follow and well marked. We hiked the entire right side on top of the bluff back to the tracks and never saw a place remotely easy to get down to the floor. The next time I will go left at the top of the falls and try to find the descent that others have found. We went on a very wet weekend, it even rained all night while we were camping, and Glen St Falls Road was accessible with a Chevy Cruze. You will get your car dirty. Just go slow and watch for the pot holes and you will be fine. There is one small hill, but the road is actually blacktop under this section so that was nice. There will be a few spots that are muddy, but not like a mud bog at the county fair. A higher clearance vehicle would do better no doubt, but I would take my car again in a heartbeat. Some have claimed that the trail head is hard to find, but just keep going on the road until you come to the low water crossing. There is a parking lot for about 10 cars, a bathroom, and signs. Not hard to find at all. Honestly, Ozark road coming from the East was a worse road than the trail head road. It went from a paved road gravel out of nowhere and it is filled with pot holes. Ozark from the west was paved. Every car in the parking lot was a 2 wheel drive car (2 prius'). You can make it. Have fun!

The trail was very easy to follow and the entire left wing was paved stone. After a weekend in the Shawnee, I would rank this area 3rd after Garden of the Gods and Little Grand Canyon. If you go to the Garden of the Gods, you must go down the road to this area. The area is covered with moss covered rocks and then you descend down the bluff cutting through wedges in the large rocks. We went on a wet weekend and the water was trickling from everywhere. Once down near the creek the trail splits. We thought that this was the junction of the middle and right side loop, but this is actually the right side loop and the trail that goes up to the lake and back. If you go up the lake trail about 1/4 mile you will find a small waterfall. The site map indicates that most people hike up to this waterfall and back out. From the trail head, the left and middle trails will both take you to the top of the stairs on the bluff, the right trail will take you to the bottom of the bluff.

This is a great place to stop and explore. As others said, the trail itself is very short, but this place is more about exploring. We did a ton of climbing. Without climbing there are still plenty of beautiful vantage points. There was a good bit of trash that could be picked up as you walk across the decks they have built near the swirl rocks. Garden of the Gods and Little Grand Canyon are tied for the best places to visit from our weekend.

We spent the weekend in the Shawnee and this was one of the most beautiful trails we hiked. Beware that if you are hiking the full loop, you will have to go up and down a crevasse that could has some steep steps and could be wet. We enjoyed the fact that this trail was not just a half paved path through the woods. You were really rewarded by going the extra mile to get into the woods. We started at the left trail head, hiked up to the lookout point, then ventured down into the bottoms. The decent down was one of the coolest things I've ever seen. We got lucky and went after a very wet week, including rain the night before. The forest was alive with trickling water from every direction. The path up and down the bluff follows a small stream that caused no issue. We took our time, taking pictures and a few breaks, and it ended up taking us about 2 hours to complete the trail.

Hiked the trail Wednesday(2days ago) and the weather was perfect, with sunshine and a breeze. The trail was muddy in places in the lowland so you had to pick and choose a path to get around, but not too bad. The trail on the creek bed was not bad at all. It was pretty easy to step around the water. I was pleased to find there was very little litter along the trail. If a few of us that care would pick up after those don’t and use the large trash containers in the parking lot it would look even better. Remember to leave the area a little cleaner than you found it

11 days ago

Best trail I've hiked! It's hard to describe all of the amazing surroundings. We were just going to go to one of the lookouts but I was a little let down because there wasn't much to see. We decided to keep going and I'm so glad we did, some parts of the trail are definitely rugged so be prepared to walk through a few creeks. My 14 year old and 8 year old thought it was so cool, though my 8 year old was tiring out that last half mile! We took our time to take pictures and let the kids play around in the water and it took us a little over 3 hours. A little difficult but worth it!

Great day hike. Wild flowers were in bloom. Some technical aspects to the trail as you descend/climb out of the canyon, but nothing too much. Trail was being enjoyed by all ages.

on Indian Point Trail

hiking
21 days ago

We took a family hike on Good Friday. The parking lot was overflowing when we started the trail at about 2:45. when we came off the trail 2 hours later, most of the cars were gone.

The trail is easy to follow, bit make sure to watch for the blue markers with a a black arrow in them to be sure you don't take a side trail.

There are several nice spots to take in the views. While we just took a day hike, we met a family that were going out for the night. There were several nice campsites along the trail, mainly on the top side of the trail (beginning third if traveling clockwise). The campsites we saw were visible from the trail.

We didn't see any trail maps during our visit to the area. I like to have one to follow our progress, but we made it. Going left at the fork when you start the trail is probably easier than going right - It's a slower, gentler climb back up the hill.

Be sure to enjoy the Garden of the Gods observation trail while you're so close. The Pharoah campground (primitive, $10/night, self-serve) and picnic area is nearby with pit toilets and trash receptacles.

walking
21 days ago

This is a great short trail. We took about an hour to enjoy all of the side trails to the overlooks and to read all of the interpretive panels with our 4 sons. There are clean outhouses and trash bins at the trailhead. Just up the hill is a nice picnic area and primitive campground.

Indian Point Trail is just down the road for a slightly longer, family-friendly hike.

This area is beautiful, but respect for the potential danger is a must.

Easy to follow trail with beautiful views of garden of gods.

incredible

Great short hike. Rained on Saturday, hiked on Sunday. Took aground 3 hrs.
Water running in canyons so ware water proof boots. Awesome rock formations, able to see everything because no leave cover or bugs.

Beautiful, surreal landscape! Excellent for photography

Gorgeous views! Kids didn’t want to leave!

Amazing trail. It is difficult, but definitely worth it.

The trail is short, but beautiful. There are benches along the trail to sit and enjoy the view. I went in March. The view in summer or fall would be even better.

hiking
1 month ago

Don't underestimate it. Starts off easy, then gets much more difficult. We picked a good day for this trail, but it would have been a lot harder if it was rainy or icy.

hiking
1 month ago

This is one of my favorite places in the Shawnee National Forest. I have been here several times. This is a family friendly place. Although the trails are not well marked, there is a place to easily descend into the canyon to the base of the falls, although some climbing is required. It’s mostly just descending some large rocks. We typically take the upper rim (if you’re standing at the top of the falls facing the falls, go to the left) across to the opposite falls (not typically flowing well unless there has been a major rainfall) on the other side of the canyon and about 1/4 mile around, there is a moderately beaten path to an easily (if you’re in relatively good shape) descended rock formation that will take you into the canyon. This side is fun to walk around as well. We LOVE picnicking at the base of the falls. It is so peaceful. I highly recommend a sunny day after a decent rain. There are many people typically climbing and rappelling on the rock formations. I’d say there is something for everyone, if you’re able to do a little climbing (just from one stone to another- not anything requiring special equipment)!

We did this hike yesterday, starting at Rim Rock (we took the path to the far right (of the four options) and making our way to Pounds Hollow. We actually spent a little time at Pounds Hollow to take a break (up the bluff), then hiked back, where there is a small sign at the point of the three large bluff/ rock formation areas. We headed the opposite direction that we came from to ox-lot cave and wandered/ climbed around until we found a stone staircase. That led between the rock formations and toward a recently created or remodeled wooden staircase that takes you to the top of Ox-lot. We then took the upper trail back to the parking area. During our hike, we ended up with a distance of 4 miles and climbed the equivalent of 37 flights. It was an excellent time. Calling it a moderate hike/ trail is mostly accurate. I would say easy to moderate. I did take the time to climb up a few of the formations and experience different views. I would recommend it just to really take everything in. Recent rains meant the water was flowing nicely and there were very few people there, so you really got to hear the amazing, peaceful, serene sounds of nature!

SNF has done a wonderful job keeping this area up. The addition of walkways, benches, and bridges simplify the trail, but do not take away from the environment. Most is likely done as a protective feature for the natural areas and the hikers. This is a family friendly place. There were only 5 other families/ couples there when we left, only two others when we arrived.

trail running
1 month ago

Great challenge!! It was a little difficult to follow the white diamonds to reach the other side once you got down into the canyon, but other than that it was a wonderful workout and a lovely hike.

Really lovely trail all along the way. Easy to follow except at the stream crossings. There are no bridges so if the water is up like it was for us you will need to wade. I built a rocky causeway to pass the first crossing upstream but the downstream crossing was much too deep and we had to get our feet wet. The spring is not visible from the trail and appears on the map to source several miles away which may be visible from another road which passes through that way(just by visual inspection on a map). The trail was easy to follow in most places though some spots we lost it due to sharp turns and lack of arrows indicating the proper path which caused us to do some unnecessary ledge crawling. The sentry bluff trail(Blue diamonds) travels along with part of the Natural bridge trail(Yellow Diamonds) close to the parking area where the natural bridge can be seen across the creek. However unless coming in a dry/low water season you will be getting your feet wet to see the natural bridge or to hike any trails on the other side of the stream. Both the entire length of the sentry trail we took and the finale of the natural bridge at the end were stunningly beautiful. A spraying water fall into the keyhole of the natural bridge gave rise to a small rainbow next to a a large snaking tree which climbed the height of the bridge into the canopy above.
Definitely well worth the visit. Better trail marking in places and bridges for stream crossings would make my 5 star review.

hiking
1 month ago

If you cross the railroad tracks and go over to the Jackson Hollow side, the hike is even better. If you know where the other trails are in that area you can link them all together to make a nice weekend backpacking trip. It’s the best backpacking in the Shawnee. If you do Jackson Hollow stay near the cliffs. The trail is faint ever since they kicked horses out of that area. To cross the tracks, when the trail hits the tracks, turn left and walk down the tracks about 400 yards and you will see on the other side the place to cross into it. There is a large trail that runs down the bottom of the valley but you will want to get up by the cliffs. The Promise Land climbing area is over on that side of the tracks. My hike starts on the Jackson Hollow side crosses the tracks goes through the Jackson Falls area up the dog walk and back to our campsite. I’ve been hiking this area for about 50 years.

This Trail Is small VERY SMALL! but worth the stop it is listed in the Smothsonia as the top 50 in the USA! On Smithsonia.Com and top for Illinois very Beautiful place. if you trail it it dont take long but in my case it lasted for almost 9 hours .Put me in a Wilderness and I'll stay as long as possible and cry when I have to leave. There are a few folks walking around but I seem to be able to figure out where to go to get away from them plus I went in the middle of the week so that helps. beautiful place I was there in Oct 2017 for the fall colors PERFECT!!!!!!!!

Definitely harder than I anticipated!

Was a great hike, this year was the first time I hiked it during winter. Personally I enjoyed this trail better during this time period. The frozen waterfalls off the bluffs, and being able to see more exposed rock face. You just don’t get that when the leaves are on in the warmer months just made it for me. Highly recommend.

um hmmmm mother nature is a beautiful beast

I'm hesitant to write a review, as the trail is getting trashed from over-use, but this really was an excellent hike. I took my 5 year old daughter and she loved it. It was the first trail she's hiked without being carried once, and we completed the whole 3 mile loop in 4 hours. (That should give you a good measure of the difficulty). Right now the trail has a lot of icy spots, so I would recommend bringing a walking stick or trekking poles to help with balance on the canyon descent and ascent. Please practice good trail ethics. Pick up after your dog, don't leave trash, don't pee in the middle of the trail and leave your toilet paper marking where you peed, and be mindful of the effect your boots are having on the trail when wet. Leave no trace.

At times as you proceed down the trail in the wet, rocky canyon, it is so steep that it looks impossible. However, the next step and handhold seem to appear at the last moment. I wouldn’t want to do the trail if it was raining.

2 months ago

Beautiful. Be careful in winter. I slipped on the rocks a few times.

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