Explore the most popular kid friendly 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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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!

very easy hike. trails well maintained.

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.

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.

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!

The trail was very easy to follow and the entire left wing was paved stone. After a weekend in the Shawnee, I would rank this area 3rd after Garden of the Gods and Little Grand Canyon. If you go to the Garden of the Gods, you must go down the road to this area. The area is covered with moss covered rocks and then you descend down the bluff cutting through wedges in the large rocks. We went on a wet weekend and the water was trickling from everywhere. Once down near the creek the trail splits. We thought that this was the junction of the middle and right side loop, but this is actually the right side loop and the trail that goes up to the lake and back. If you go up the lake trail about 1/4 mile you will find a small waterfall. The site map indicates that most people hike up to this waterfall and back out. From the trail head, the left and middle trails will both take you to the top of the stairs on the bluff, the right trail will take you to the bottom of the bluff.

This is a great place to stop and explore. As others said, the trail itself is very short, but this place is more about exploring. We did a ton of climbing. Without climbing there are still plenty of beautiful vantage points. There was a good bit of trash that could be picked up as you walk across the decks they have built near the swirl rocks. Garden of the Gods and Little Grand Canyon are tied for the best places to visit from our weekend.

1 month ago

The trail is very short so it's nice to go and let the kids explore and play at their own pace. The bridge is very cool, my kids enjoyed playing in the creek.

walking
1 month ago

This is a great short trail. We took about an hour to enjoy all of the side trails to the overlooks and to read all of the interpretive panels with our 4 sons. There are clean outhouses and trash bins at the trailhead. Just up the hill is a nice picnic area and primitive campground.

Indian Point Trail is just down the road for a slightly longer, family-friendly hike.

This area is beautiful, but respect for the potential danger is a must.

Easy to follow trail with beautiful views of garden of gods.

incredible

Beautiful, surreal landscape! Excellent for photography

Gorgeous views! Kids didn’t want to leave!

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.

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