Explore the most popular lake 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 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

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.

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.

2 months ago

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

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

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.

Awesome trail but it was pretty tough with a 20 pound backpack. Lots of ups and downs. It may seem a lot harder to me because I am a beginner.

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.

10 months ago

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

No markers for directions but beautiful hike. The trail can get confusing when it gets close to the trail that it is connected to.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Love this trail: started at rim rock took middle trai (Indian rock wall) 0.8 mile. descended down into lower trails. Ended up walking the beaver trail ox lot cave; a small campground is further down the trail. Some of most beautiful rock formations that I have ever seen. Came back through and took a dif trail to get back to my vehicle. Which ended up being the trail to the right that starts at rim rock.

Not sure why this trail is rated as hard. It's fairly easy walking, just watch your step I did see several snakes. The rocks can be slippery.

hiking
Tuesday, March 14, 2017

This trail is one of our favorites

horseback riding
Saturday, March 11, 2017

We trail ride this at least a couple times a year.

hiking
Sunday, January 22, 2017

Solid hike. Not many signs or markings but the trail was well kept and easy to follow. Cool rock formations and some nice views of lake from a far. The views might be more obstructed when all the trees have their leaves. Easier than Little Grand Canyon.

hiking
Friday, January 20, 2017

Very scenic trail with lots of cool rock formations to explore. Started/ended at Rim Rock, multiple routes in the Rim Rock area

We had never done Cove Hollow before. Our aim was to go from Cove Hollow Trail Head to Boat Dock Road. The hike was beautiful but not well marked. Indeed, it was this app that we finally had to rely on to navigate our way. Had a blast anyway. Just glad we got to the cars before dusk.

hiking
Friday, January 06, 2017

It should be noted that this trail is at Pounds Hollow or below the bluffs at Rim Rock. The easiest way to find it go to the beach at Pounds Hollow and walk to the other side via the sidewalk. The trail starts right there and is beautiful.

Trail markers were not easy to spot, got a little lost a couple times. I highly recommend going off the beaten path though if you are a good navigator. Amazing beauty! Expect a decent workout here.

hiking
Friday, November 11, 2016

Did this one today. I parked on Boat Dock Road and hiked to the north trail head and back. Nice trail, and pretty easy to follow. I am pretty sure I did the Wolf Den trail both on the way in and the way back. Hard to say for sure, as the signage was a little ambiguous. Awesome scenery and a little bit of a challenge. Took me about 4 hours total.

hiking
Monday, October 31, 2016

Could really be considered part of the Rim Rock trail, this portion is the lower portion along the creek and along pounds lake. Very pretty area's and well kept. The trial as marked here includes the Rim Rock trail.

Trail is easy to moderate except for one tough section where you have to climb (or descend) the cliff face. However,even this section is well marked with easy to cover stairs.

hiking
Saturday, September 03, 2016

This trail is the Lirley Trailhead for the Cedar Lake Trail System. It's a nice trail. Rocky hills and a few rocky creeks. Met a few hikers, bikers and horse riders on the trail. It's easy to follow and well marked. This trail goes to Cedar Lake Spillway where it joins up with a couple of other trails. From the Trail head to the Spillway and back is 7,78 miles. If you cross the spillway you'll come to signage pointing out the Cedar Lake Trail, and the Little Cedar Lake loop. These trails could be added to this Rowan trail to make a very nice long hike.

backpacking
Tuesday, July 26, 2016

couldn't even find it. maybe it just hasn't been maintained, or maybe it's so "hard" it's impossible to follow.

on Buttermilk Hill

Saturday, April 09, 2016

I did the Buttermilk Hill to Crisenberry Dam out and back. It was April, no ticks (Yay!) I did an overnight on the trail in my hammock. My biggest complaint, (only complaint really) was the fact i was saying to myself, "I think this is the trail" or "where the * is the trail?!" entirely way to often. A few times I would lose it but it follows the contour of the lake so if you hike it and lose it, just make your way to lake and you might find it.

I recommend this trail but only if you plan to hike it early spring, before vegitation pops up and covers what trail there is to hide, or late autumn.

Get out there! Adventure calls - don't ignore it... thats how you get lazy

hiking
Monday, October 26, 2015

Did this one about a week ago (Oct 15 or 16) the colors were awesome. I did loose the trail a few times after going downward from the initial descent. The only trail marker i saw, other than the trail head, was a tiny blue blaze with a bold arrow on it pointing down the bluffs. After that it was "follow the bluffs and hope it is right". After a little while i found a river bed and followed it as it was right along the bluffs. At the top of the bluffs all traces of trail dissappeared. Sooo i made myself some food and hiked back the way i came. It was a bummer to not know where to go, better to take a lunch break and go back the way you came rather than get lost. That was the way i saw it anyway. Awesome views and found some nice pic worthy fall colors on the way back as well, not a loss at all!

Keep hiking, you just might find yourself.

-Chris

hiking
Thursday, September 03, 2015

Great place in Southern IL to explore. Vast areas of different ecology's with many opportunities for wildlife viewing. Trail can be wide and paved with gravel in places down to barely a single wide dirt path with encroaching greenery on the sides. I hiked this trail every season and would say that late winter/early spring is best for the views before all the leaves grow back. I recommend planning extra time along the trail to explore the numerous side trails to different scenic areas.

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