Explore the most popular waterfall 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.

One of my favorite trails in Southern Illinois. Forest Service rules means camping is allowed under the sandstone overhangs, with easy access to beautiful side trails (including the slot canyon Wolf Trap Hollow) and the lake if you enjoy fishing.

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.

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

Grrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!

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
21 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.

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!

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.

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!

We spent the weekend in the Shawnee and this was one of the most beautiful trails we hiked. Beware that if you are hiking the full loop, you will have to go up and down a crevasse that could has some steep steps and could be wet. We enjoyed the fact that this trail was not just a half paved path through the woods. You were really rewarded by going the extra mile to get into the woods. We started at the left trail head, hiked up to the lookout point, then ventured down into the bottoms. The decent down was one of the coolest things I've ever seen. We got lucky and went after a very wet week, including rain the night before. The forest was alive with trickling water from every direction. The path up and down the bluff follows a small stream that caused no issue. We took our time, taking pictures and a few breaks, and it ended up taking us about 2 hours to complete the trail.

Hiked the trail Wednesday(2days ago) and the weather was perfect, with sunshine and a breeze. The trail was muddy in places in the lowland so you had to pick and choose a path to get around, but not too bad. The trail on the creek bed was not bad at all. It was pretty easy to step around the water. I was pleased to find there was very little litter along the trail. If a few of us that care would pick up after those don’t and use the large trash containers in the parking lot it would look even better. Remember to leave the area a little cleaner than you found it

1 month ago

Best trail I've hiked! It's hard to describe all of the amazing surroundings. We were just going to go to one of the lookouts but I was a little let down because there wasn't much to see. We decided to keep going and I'm so glad we did, some parts of the trail are definitely rugged so be prepared to walk through a few creeks. My 14 year old and 8 year old thought it was so cool, though my 8 year old was tiring out that last half mile! We took our time to take pictures and let the kids play around in the water and it took us a little over 3 hours. A little difficult but worth it!

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.

Great day hike. Wild flowers were in bloom. Some technical aspects to the trail as you descend/climb out of the canyon, but nothing too much. Trail was being enjoyed by all ages.

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.

Great short hike. Rained on Saturday, hiked on Sunday. Took aground 3 hrs.
Water running in canyons so ware water proof boots. Awesome rock formations, able to see everything because no leave cover or bugs.

Amazing trail. It is difficult, but definitely worth it.

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

Don't underestimate it. Starts off easy, then gets much more difficult. We picked a good day for this trail, but it would have been a lot harder if it was rainy or icy.

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)!

trail running
2 months ago

Great challenge!! It was a little difficult to follow the white diamonds to reach the other side once you got down into the canyon, but other than that it was a wonderful workout and a lovely hike.

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.

Definitely harder than I anticipated!

Short and sweet. Beautiful formation

Load More