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

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make sure to follow the white squares with blue "i"s, especially the first one - it's in the second electric post as soon as you start

Nice hike in. Had trouble picking the trail back in once I reached the river.

cool rock formations

Great museum, decent trail

9 days ago

beautiful trail

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!

walking
16 days ago

Just go, you will love it!! And be sure to take kids with you.

Well marked trail. LOTS of fairly steep uphill climbs on this one. It was pretty muddy so the trail was rugged in many spots where you had to almost straddle the path to get footing. Beautiful spot on the lake on rock causeway. Not sure I would've ridden a horse on this trail that day due to muddy conditions, but several equestrians had in the day or two prior to our visit. If you are a beginner just know that this trail has some pretty steep ascents and with it being an out and back trail, you're going to have to come back down eventually. Please take a walking stick or trek pole to aid you especially if it's muddy.

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
1 month 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!

Nice trail. The trailhead rates it as moderate to difficult, but I would say moderate is a fair assessment with quite a bit of up and down. It was raining when we started and so was pretty muddy and poison ivy is all over the sides of the trail. A lot of wild life, including turtles, frogs, lizards, cray fish, deer, several species of dragonflies as well as a poisonous snake in the brush when the trail takes you over the lake. Was there for 4 nights over Memorial Day weekend and only saw a hand full of other groups. Overall a great time.

hiking
1 month 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!

walking
1 month ago

The museum alone is worth it! Great historic site, nice walk. Some stairs if you want to go to the top of the mounds, but other than that it is pretty accessible to everyone.

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.

First trip to GOG! Awesome. Rock formations overlook GOG, westward. Was looking for a sunrise meditation facing the east. Not possible due to the tree tops. Totally satisfied, though. Perfect for a sunset meditation and gazing.

hiking
1 month ago

Nice trail. It's marked easy. I'd say it's on the high side of easy but we're in our 60's so :). Several rock crossings some of which are probably water covered at times. Some stairs. Very nice though - quiet and peaceful.

Amazing views, beautifully maintained trail. Just be careful as you hop and climb over the rocks - the height is very high and there’s not much to grab onto. Other than the normal safety precautions this is a wonderful hike!

This was too cool. There was plenty to explore here, so many cool rock formations, while you're on the bottom floor you can't help but just stare up in awe. The long staircase through some narrow passages in the natural rock was awesome and if my current physical state would have allowed me to, I would have just kept going up and down that portion.

hiking
1 month ago

Of all the trails my husband and I hiked while staying in Shawnee, this was the easiest one. There's a nice pond right inside the trail with a ton of wildlife(frogs, fish, dragonflies). Easy inclines with great view of the rocks.

My husband and I were staying the in campground at Garden of the Gods so this was a must-see. We were not disappointed. It's a really short trail but you could spend a long time just standing on the rocks and looking out. We're from SE Michigan which is very flat so this was something really different to see! I could see this being sketchy for parents with young kids, personally if I had children with me I would put them on a leash because there are no guard rails and it's a long fall down.

Great hike. I went with my husband and two dogs. Definitely wear waterproof hiking shoes with good grip because the creek beds are slippery.

In the Shawnee National Forest is a rock escarpment known as Rim Rock. This park is just a few minutes drive from Garden of the Gods so plan to do this trail on the same day. The trail goes up over the hill along a paved flagstone trail and then dives down through the rocks where it passes through narrow slot canyons to the canyon below. the center of the trail is just an enjoyable walk in the woods with no scenery. But once you reach the northern part of the loop you'll see the steps leading down to narrow stone passages. Return to the top of the steps to follow a rock outcropping back along the western loop or descend tot he bottom of the passage until you reach the canyon floor where you can continue CW along massive cliffs back to the trailhead.

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