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We hiked down the the falls in the shorter loop next to the road. Beautiful scenery, falls weren't too impressive, more of a trickle in early June despite the rain a few days earlier, but we expected that. The trails are not well marked, you need to either know the area or bring a GPS! We used this app (AllTrails) and were exceptionally glad we did or we would have gone in the wrong direction more than once. There is a faster way to get down to the falls than going all the way around to Helispot, and we took this way back up to our car. I suggest if you want to get to the bottom quickly, you do the following: (1) drive past the parking area/trailhead and park on the side of the road about half a mile down, coordinates 37.505523, -88.681285 (caution, road is pretty bumpy but can be managed) (2) hike down from the road approx 100ft to the trail and go left, (3) pass over a wooden bridge, (4) at GPS coordinates 37.504375, -88.681905 clamber down the boulder trail to the bottom of the bluff (there is a red emergency/first-aid staion @ the bottom). It may look impossible at first glance which is how we missed it, but it is not hard if you are physically able and saves you from having to walk over a mile further. (4) go northwest about a quarter mile, stay right along the bottom of the bluffs until you get to the falls. We learned of this way from a very kind older gentleman who was camping overnight @ the bottom of the falls.

There's a very good chance that the creek won't be running, as it only flows after a period of prolonged rain. However, I walk the trail on a pretty regular basis, and find it to be a pretty charming walk through a really beautiful forest regardless. One definite perk is that throughout the hike you can see cliffs rising through the trees on either side of the trail; these cliffs become more prominent as the gorge narrows. When the water is flowing, there is a really unique waterfall that tumbles into a deep cleft in the cliff to the right of the trail.

Nice trail but would of like to see some of the waterfalls, must be much better in early spring. Got to see deer and lots of mushrooms, lol. Would of liked to of gotten rid of the horsefly that decided to travel with me for the entire length of the trail and all the way back to the car.

Lots of bang for your buck on this hike: two nice-sized and very different waterfalls, unique rock formations, and a really scenic section hugging cliffs above a creek.

I took my 4 year old in early spring. We loved it! Climbing down the creek bed is difficult so take your time. Beautiful views once you get down the the bottom. Overall nice trail to bring young children or fur babies.

Did it twice, once in each direction! Not too buggy, rocks are (not surprisingly) slick in the shade but easy enough to keep your feet dry.

The trail was very easy with a moderately trafficked gravel pathway. We went in the afternoon as that morning there was heavy rainfall. We noted that the creek leading up to the waterfall was dried up and once at the waterfall found that it was dried up as well. There is a split path that allows you to climb to the top of the waterfall to explore the rocky area. There were fellow hikers at the waterfall when we arrived and we were informed that the waterfall only runs in the spring time despite recent rains. We did bring both of our Siberian huskies and found it was easy to navigate.

hiking
21 days ago

Good trail, didn't see snakes, got a couple ticks. a little bit of experience hiking, makes this trail real fun. couple places to camp, no idea if you're allowed to or not though. this is a low maintained trail and that includes the road up to the trailhead. small cars can make it but its rough. i plan on hiking it again and probably camping off the trail.

hiking
24 days ago

The trail itself is a little bit boring and nowhere near hard. I know the trail is rated as hard, but it is easy to moderate at its best. I would have given it 5 stars if there would have been water in the river. It was very dry so it wasn’t so beautiful. 3 stars isn’t really what I wanted either, but it won’t allow me to do 3,5. If you are afraid of spiders, now is not the time to hike this trail as there are spiderwebs all over the place. I almost turned around after constantly getting webs in my face. I eventually walked with a stick to destroy all the webs. I went off trail at one point to walk along the dry riverbed and to do some rock climbing. That made it much more exiting. I combined this trail with the natural bridge and the white trail. 5 miles in total.

Loved our mid-summer hike. Was steeper and more difficult than we expected but are definitely going back in the fall. It’s amazing that this beautiful area is tucked away here in the Midwest. Wear good hikers and bug spray for the valleys.

hiking
27 days ago

The trail is a great way to see the beautiful canyon! Some of the creek bed can be rather steep and slippery so be sure to wear the appropriate footwear. Once you descend into the canyon the mosquitoes do get a little bit bothersome so remember the bug spray.

Always a great trail.

hiking
28 days ago

This trail would’ve been fantastic if there wasn’t a spider web every 5 feet we had to go through!!

we have been here a couple of times for short hikes when we just wanted to get out for awhile with the dogs. it is very easy to hike and the views are so beautiful.. Bring your camera.

What a great app indispensable out in the Shawnee. Simply pick a trail and it links up with googl to get you there!

Very flat hike. In and then back out on the same trail. Waterfall was not running as it is the dry season. But still an awesome easy trail. Benches near the falls for anyone who walks in and wants to relax and absorb nature without having to sit on rocks or the ground.

One of So IL’s best spots. Been coming here since 90s. Technical enough to keep it interesting but still big kid friendly. Spent an amazing night there last night with unbelievably forgiving weather for July. We camped at a well established spot by the water about a 15-20 min hike from the north CH trailhead and before the Wolf Den. Took 5 ticks off my son this morning but none on me. Guess they don’t like the smell of bourbon. New hikers should be aware of the two options at the north trailhead. The left fork is more friendly if you’re packing heavy or not in prime condition. The right fork is a bit of rock and boulder hopping down into the valley.

hiking
1 month ago

Most of the trail was blocked by fallen trees. Trail is not well marked. Pretty much just got to see the rock formations from the trailhead.

1 month ago

beautiful trail

hiking
1 month ago

This a spectacular trail that starts off with an easy rock path that doesn’t have that trail feel. Just wait, it gets better! Nice ridge paths and you have to climb up and down some pretty slippery river beds. Beware if you bring a dog, make sure you can lift them. Some parts of path they will need help. When you get in the canyon, be prepared, bring some good mosquito spray.
There is a nice mix of gravel, dirt with a dash of mud and sandstone. Great for all ages. Kids would love this trail. To things to remember, water and keep kids on trail. Copperheads and rattlesnakes are off trail and can be aggressive. Enjoy!!

Fun trail but has little in the way of signs. We took a wrong turn and ended up on another trail. The whole area was beautiful!

Pretty rock formations in the canyon , but wayyy toooi many trees blocking paths.

My favorite trail in the Shawnee National forest. Beautiful views at the overlook. Don't be afraid to venture past the posts at the overlook and climb down onto the bluff. It is a view that is difficult to beat. Once you follow the trail down into the bottoms the atmosphere of the trail changes but is just as beautiful as the upper area. Certain parts of the decent are very mossy and slippery. Many people bring dogs to the trail but be aware that there are certain areas where you will have to lift your dog. Bug spray is a must especially during the summer season. Many ticks after most visits. Coming after a rain will provide flowing water views and some slight water crossings.
The ascent of the trail is exhausting. The views are completely worth it but be sure to pack lots of water.
The best time I have had on this trail is in the late fall when the leaves are beginning to fall. More opportunities for visibility

This trail was spectacular! Well marked and great scenic views. Although, you have to hike the full loop to enjoy the views but it is worth it.

backpacking
2 months ago

Beware of ticks, they were falling from the trees on us at the campsite. The trail from creek to the campground is very overgrown but manageable. Enjoyed my time on Lower Rock Creek as always! This is an unofficial trail that is not maintained, be prepared for less than ideal conditions.

hiking
2 months ago

My Wife and I hiked this a few days ago. Very beautiful scenery and for the most part a well maintained trail. Disclaimer to those afraid of getting off the beaten path: there were a few areas where trees had fallen across the trail, one that required you to walk about 30 yards through thick woods to get around. That wasn’t an issue for us as we hunt and are used to that but for those that may not be crazy about it, that is a possibility. That being said, they could’ve fell the night before and no one had a chance to clear them. All in all very beautiful we would definitely hike it again. FYI our GPS said it was 3.3 mi. This rates it at I believe 2.2 and their website says 1.7.

This was a very beautiful hike, although one that has some issues. I believe it's closer to the 12 miles that the entrance signs say versus the 10.7.

We took two dogs with us, and if you are going to do this make sure they have plenty of tick repellant. Ticks are very bad this year and we picked at least 150 off of each dog, and that's not an exaggeration. Make sure you have your own repellant too, as we found a ton on ourselves.

The terrain on this trail is back and forth. A lot of gravel, mud, rock, and road. Make sure you have very good hiking shoes. Your feet will thank you for it. It is also a lot of unnecessary up hill and woodsy treks ...this will probably make you angry as it did us because the trail would take you through the woods for a second just to put you in the same field later on. Be prepared to question a lot. I would not recommend going a day after it rains (which is what we did), give the trail time to harden back up, otherwise expect a ton of mud.

The trail has very good markers in some places and very poor marking in others. I think we back tracked at least 5 times because we lost track of the markers. Pulled up the map a few times as well. Just don't lose sight of them... They are also down in a few places where trees have fell.

If you like trails that have a lot of creek bed action, this is one for you. It is very beautiful. I think all in all it took us about 7 hours with two dogs and multiple stops of about 10-20 minutes each. A lot of nice little areas to stop off and eat your packed lunch as well. Pack extra water, you are gonna need it.

Beautiful. I have to say some of the reviews mentioning snakes kept me off of this trail for a while. Didn't see a single one! Perhaps the best thing about this is you can make it as long or as short as you wish. It's a nice walk to the stream itself, and for those who want a more rugged experience, there's plenty of that up and downstream. We had the entire place to ourselves on a summer Sunday! never saw another car after leaving Hwy. E.

This has been my absolute favorite thus far. We started by going left out of the parking lot and walked a gravel trail for a while, thinking that was all the trail was. We arrived at a scenic outpost and, had we stopped there, I can say it would have been a disappointment given how highly this trail is rated. The best, it turns out, was yet to come. From the outlook you hit a few cross backs that take you down in to a ravine where you climb down some rocks to get to the basin below. This was beautiful and moderately challenging, on rainy or wet days it would be difficult, and if you plan on bringing small children or pets you should know that you WILL have to lift them or carry them during some parts of this trail. Ya worth it, however, and the bottoms are pretty in their own right. Once you come to the end of the basin and it’s time to climb out the other side, there is a long stretch of rocks you climb up. There are hand and footholds to help that are placed at just the right places to help out. We took to climbing these with some speed and, at the top, we were both happy to sit for a minute and catch our breath. Once you are on top of the rock area, you’re not done. The rest of the trail is almost all an elevation climb and, by the time you reach the parking lot, you’re gassed. This trail was a great assortment of all the good stuff that I thoroughly enjoyed. I will be bringing my girls next time so they can experience it!

hiking
2 months ago

I enjoyed hiking this trail it offered some challenges due to the slippery rocks and stream crossings. It started out easy enough until you come to the first stream crossing and the rocks. It was somewhat a task to get back up to the trail. Good traction shoes are a must here. The trail than get obscured a little after the stream crossing and one can find themselves gone astray from the trail, that happened to me. I found the trail again and the rest of the hike was no issue.

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