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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.

There is a trail at the top of the park with a sign across the roads from the cabins, but it does not follow what is shown on the app. It appears that they are trying to create more trails in this wooded area. Part of this trail includes paved roads to get to the cave, which is awesome.

Path is well maintained around top loop, and is what you would expect from an easy walk in the woods. When you reach the staircase that takes you down to the ox-lot cave the landscape drastically changes. There are extraordinary rock formations, sheer cliffs, and exciting small caves. You could spend an hour in this area alone exploring all the rock formations. Overall the loop took us 1.5 hours with lots of exploring.

Nice easy trail with great views and rock formations. Worth a look if in the area.

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.

Not surprising that this is a big draw for visitors, beautiful vistas for very little work! Fun scrambling on the rocks, good late afternoon cap on a day of more intense hiking.

Very cool hike, learned a thing or two from the signs too.

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.

Beautiful area to explore. Definitely bigger than I was expecting! You’re welcome to climb on the rocks as much as you want which added for extra entertainment. Could’ve spent hours just sitting and taking in the view

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
23 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.

Absolutely amazing views!

hiking
25 days ago

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

Short but fun.

cool rock formations

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!!

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.

hiking
2 months ago

Good trail. Good for kids. Best features are on backside of loop. Spend some time and read the names carved into the stone. There is a sign at trailhead warning of falling sandstone. Made us a little weary to explore many of the breakout trails. Overall, very pleased. Note: it was extremely humid at the Park on the day we were there (June 14, 2018). Not sure if this was a unique day, but wow, it was thick. We’re from southwest NC and are very familiar with humidity. This isn’t a knock on the trail or the park, but more of a geographical enlightenment from someone new to the southern Illinois area.

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.

Beautiful scenery!

Never disappointed! Beautiful!

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.

hiking
2 months ago

This was a fun hike with some cool rock structures to appreciate (boulders, bluffs, small caves, lookouts). There were also several small trails that branched off this lollipop route to some primitive & top-of-the-bluff campsites. Depending on the section of trail you might also notice you go from being below a predominantly evergreen forest canopy to a deciduous canopy. Side note: there was loads of poison ivy.

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!

Traveled from Tennessee just to see it and it didn’t disappoint. Just wish it was a little longer. Absolutely beautiful!!

Fun hike with a 7 year old in tow. Enjoyed the rock formations and ox-lot cave. Very relaxed and educational.

The rock formations were really cool. We had fun climbing on all the rocks. Views were amazing!

A lot of fun, if a bit slippery in some parts. Took my 7 year old son and he had a blast.

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