Explore the most popular hiking trails in Shawnee National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

I loved the terrain and views. But people are LIVING in these woods. We seriously had a man request that we “pay the troll toll” because we accidentally came upon his home during our short walk. We played it cool and gave him some cashews and he was alright with us passing through but still, wth. Then we encountered a set of campers

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.

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.

beautiful area.

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.

Grrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!

Gurrrr! Does not resemble my face!

Gurrr!!!!! Woooooo!

Grrrr! Rawr! Great place to sleep, throw rocks and stalk deer.

Within the Shawnee National Forest of southern Illinois lies the Garden of the Gods Wilderness, so named for the unique rock formations. This mid-western region was once a primordial swamp and the action of the water wore this exposed cliff face into rounded pinnacles. It's a magical place where people come to sit or stand on the edges of the cliffs and look out at the wilderness. Those with no fear of heights can be seen jumping from rock to rock over 200 foot crevices. Most of this loop can be navigated fairly easily with a stroller although there are a few steps here and there where a lift will be necessary. In addition to the main flagstone trail there are numerous short side trails to various overlooks or climbing opportunities. Although a popular trail where there will be many other visitors, they will be spread out pretty far and what few are visible will give a good perspective to the sheer size of the bluffs. Due to the relatively level and reasonably smooth flagstone trail with beautiful views only 5 minutes from the parking lot, this would be an ideal visit for those who may be mobility-impaired.

Amazing views. Climbs are up some awesome rock formations, beautiful trees and wildlife.

Make sure to keep your dogs by you at all times!! Some places are very slippery and ur dogs will start sliding. But other than that it was a blast! I want to go back!

Good little morning hike, very short but worth it to see the rock formations.

We loved this trail! Took us 2 hours, good clip at the start along the wooded and wildflower ridge line. Then definitely took our time to descend into the canyon. The waterfall was beautiful but slippery and muddy in spots so we took our time to find the right footing. Giant rock formations line the riverbed bottom. A lot of rewards on this trail for the effort. It’s very well marked, follow the diamonds.

hiking
15 days ago

We went to both Jackson Falls and Burden Falls today. Based off of a review left here we went to Jackson Falls first and we were actually a bit disappointed. Unless you're up for a 7-mile roundtrip hike you can't get to the bottom of the falls meaning you don't get much of a view of the actual waterfall. The hike leading up to it was short, easy and pretty. There were lots of little "falls" to look out and hop around. We decided to try Burden Falls (it's right on the way back) to see if maybe we could get a better view of some of the falls. We LOVED Burden Falls and would definitely recommend you see it. The road leads you directly to the falls so there's no hike out. BUT if you're up for some rock climbing (it's a bit tough at times) you can get an awesome view of the falls! Also, the road leading to Jackson Falls was long and VERY rough. Wasn't worth it in our opinion. If you can only go to one DEFINITELY go to Burden Falls.

went with Katie and marley. was a beautiful day, nice view with plenty of fresh air.

This is a really beautiful backpacking trail. Emerging from winter, I wanted something short and relaxing rather than lengthy. This trail was perfect! I camped overlooking the lake and we had phenomenal weather. Beware of ticks -- I had one tick on me to remove.

stunning! Yes the trail is easy but there is ample opportunity for a great workout if you want it by climbing over boulders and adventuring down the cliffs. Be careful though! I only recommend climbing if you are experienced or athletically conditioned. While we were there someone fell and a life flight had to be called. Climb at your own risk. I did ;)

A trail with views. Not particularly difficult until the trek back up that involves many stairs but I was so distracted by the natural rock formations I barely noticed. Takes about an hour.

Nice quick little hike! Well marked trails with bluffs, slots to walk through in the bluffs and a creek. You can do the loop on the map, or continue on to pounds hollow (1/2 mile) by the creek. Shaded picnic benches are available.

Easy hike with nice views. Geology rocks!

Really cool trail, has it’s challenging spots because of slippery rocks. The trail flooded out in a couple of spots, but it was still easy to get through!

very easy hike. trails well maintained.

hiking
28 days ago

Our group loved this hike. Very easy flat trail to a wonderful cave. The cave was much larger than expected. Gave this one a 3 star only because of the off the beaten path feel to it. There is no parking lot and no trail head to this one. You simply drive to the end of Sand Cave road and park in the grass next to the dirt road looking entrance to the hike. After you get on the trail it is very easy to follow. Once again a very enjoyable hike that not a lot of people visit so if you are looking for easy and remote this is the trail for you!

Always a favorite of ours this is a most see if you are going to Shawnee. While a short very easy trail the real attraction is the rocks to climb all over. This trail is extremely popular and very busy so highly recommend getting there early if you want to take decent pictures of the place. Other than that even with the crowds everyone is spread out on the rocks so it isn't to crazy.

hiking
28 days ago

As previously mentioned in other comments this trail is basically an extended edition of the Rim Rock Trail. You start off from behind the beach house at Pounds lake and walk along to the end of the lake then through a canyon area until you hit in my opinion the best part of the hike which is the stairs up to the rock formations. I wish this part had been longer as the rest of the 3 mile hike is really just a nature walk. The rock formations really made this hike worthwhile for me. So if you are in it only for the rock formations then save yourselves 2 extra miles and do the Rim Rock trail instead. However if you have some extra time to your day the walk along the lake and through the canyon was very pretty, scenic, and an easy stroll. Would not rate this trail as "Hard" by any means.

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

It sure doesn't feel like 0.3 miles. It feels like 0.1. This would be a great place to go hang out and have lunch. It's more of an exploration area than a hike. The area is amazing. I recommend taking the left trail at the split. You will see the bridge in no time and it looks impressive from this angle.

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