Explore the most popular horseback riding 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

beautiful area.

Grrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!

hiking
19 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.

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.

hiking
1 month 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!

hiking
1 month 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.

backpacking
1 month ago

My group camped here for the night. The area is amazing. We took the right path from the top of the falls and camped on the top of the bluff. There is plenty of flat area up here to camp. We arrived too late in the day to be able to find a way down to the floor to really see the falls. The trail on the right side was very easy to follow and well marked. We hiked the entire right side on top of the bluff back to the tracks and never saw a place remotely easy to get down to the floor. The next time I will go left at the top of the falls and try to find the descent that others have found. We went on a very wet weekend, it even rained all night while we were camping, and Glen St Falls Road was accessible with a Chevy Cruze. You will get your car dirty. Just go slow and watch for the pot holes and you will be fine. There is one small hill, but the road is actually blacktop under this section so that was nice. There will be a few spots that are muddy, but not like a mud bog at the county fair. A higher clearance vehicle would do better no doubt, but I would take my car again in a heartbeat. Some have claimed that the trail head is hard to find, but just keep going on the road until you come to the low water crossing. There is a parking lot for about 10 cars, a bathroom, and signs. Not hard to find at all. Honestly, Ozark road coming from the East was a worse road than the trail head road. It went from a paved road gravel out of nowhere and it is filled with pot holes. Ozark from the west was paved. Every car in the parking lot was a 2 wheel drive car (2 prius'). You can make it. Have fun!

started in e town, stoped hiking in eddyville. this part of the trail hiked has a lot of forks that are not marked what way to go. trail has been moved around a lot, but they never took down the old blazes. wasted about 10 miles following false trails, lusk creek is the worst part.

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.

hiking
2 months 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)!

hiking
2 months 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.

2 months ago

Nice trail. Not well marked, but still easy to follow.

um hmmmm mother nature is a beautiful beast

hiking
4 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!

on Jackson Falls Trail

horseback riding
5 months ago

Beautiful trail

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

backpacking
5 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.

hiking
6 months ago

I wasn’t a big fan of this trail. It was not very well marked and if I didn’t have my gps on I most certainly wouldn’t have found my way back. The ticks were horrible here in the spring, the only trail in southern Illinois I ever had a problem with ticks. If you decide to hike this, be sure to protect yourself from ticks and pay attention to your surroundings to not get lost.

Trail need to be marked better and needs maintenance. Multiple time we questioned if we were still on the trail.

hiking
7 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.

hiking
7 months ago

Absolutely beautiful place. But the trails are not labeled consistently. Extremely easy to get lost, as I did, and ended up making an 8.5 mile hike out of a 4 mile hike.

hiking
7 months ago

The climbers, rock formations, railroad walk and scrambling all make for a very interesting hike.

hiking
7 months ago

Beautiful autumn hike.

hiking
7 months ago

Nice rocky hike with the family. Falls dry in August though.

The best spot isn't on the main trail, if you find it you'll just know.

Great trail, very cool rock formations. Trail was very easy to follow. Not sure why it's rated as hard, one of the easier hikes around.

We found the path to be completely unmarked, and hard to navigate. If you're a fan of making your own trail, go for it! But it wasn't much fun with our dog.

Excellent place to go hiking and get away from everything

10 months ago

Very pretty spot for a hike. Not difficult to navigate and has other great spots around to hike.

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