Explore SNF May 2017 - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

SNF May 2017 Map

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.

Trail was really great, but it was really hard to find in the beginning. We went in the wrong direction and hit "no trespassing" signs after about half a mile. The trails are also not very well marked. It can also get pretty muddy in places.

We have been to Millstone Bluffs twice. The kids really enjoy seeing the petroglyphs. This is a very easy hike/ walk. Definitely take the time to stop if you’re close by!

2 days 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.

7 days ago

Incredible place that almost no one knows about. A true gem. Amazing rock outcroppings and a view that is as good as any in the area. The "stone face" itself is somewhat small, but very cool in my opinion. The trail however is hard to navigate after you come down off the bluffs. In this case I recommend turning around and coming back the way you came after a certain point (the power line cut), or when you come down off the ridge, just walk directly along the bluffs until you come back to the original trail, or can make your way to the parking lot. Worth every bit of the trouble.

11 days 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!!!!!!!!

Did this last year but it was in the dry part of the season. Trail was easy to hike and a great starter for kids. There was a waterfall at the end of it but just trickling due to lack of rainfall so suggest just after a good rain. Easy access trails from the campsite and close to other trail heads. Over all ‘ relaxing’.

Go during the winter! Seeing the waterfall frozen over is amazing

Short and sweet. Beautiful formation

It's a nice, easy stroll. The bluffs are all at one end of the trail so depending on the direction you go, you're either waiting to see bluffs or wondering if you'll see any more bluffs.

Gorgeous especially after a good rain! I thought we may never make it as fun as the kiddos were having playing in the creek on the way. Bluffs were gorgeous, too!

Great trail. Make sure you get a permit from the Crab Orchard visitor's center.

um hmmmm mother nature is a beautiful beast

1 month ago

Really enjoyed the trail. Beautiful

Amazing rock formations


2 months ago

There are at least 2 ways down without rappelling. Look for the emergency kits. The ways down are near those. It’s really cool to be challenged to get to the base. Also we found a rock carving from 1861 right near the trail!

3 months ago

Hiked over from Glen O Jones Lake. Beautiful vistas north towards Harrisburg.

3 months ago

Nice trail that is very well marked. A lot of the trail is just walking through the woods but when you reach the bluffs they are pretty impressive. The sandstone rock bluffs have very unique patterns in them. The waterfall was dry but pretty and I'm sure would be impressive as well if caught after a good rain.

horseback riding
3 months ago

Beautiful trail

Great trail and dog friendly!

Revisited a trail we've hiked for 35 years. Be sure to go up, at the fork, when returning to the trail head.

3 months ago

My only complaint is that there isn’t a clear way marked on how to get to the bottom without rappelling. I’ll definitely go back. Beautiful views. And the nearby observation tower gives an awesome view of the surroundings.

Kids all loved it, especially all the nooks and crannies of the rocks.

Hidden gem in Illinois. Well worth the time to explore this and other hikes at Garden of the Gods.

Most areas are easily accessible to all. This short trail rewards with amazing views that are some of the best in the midwest.

4 months ago

The trail is a beautiful place, but if you don't know the trail itself it is very easy to get lost. In a couple of case while I was hiking trail #49 I came upon a sign nailed to a tree that said 49, however, I had three options of which way to go. Once I made the wrong guess and we got lost. As I said the trail is great, but the labeling of the trails is horrible.

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