Explore the most popular wildlife 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.

Amazing views, beautifully maintained trail. Just be careful as you hop and climb over the rocks - the height is very high and there’s not much to grab onto. Other than the normal safety precautions this is a wonderful hike!

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.

Grrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!

Gurrr!!!!! Woooooo!

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!

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.

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 ;)

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
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!

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.

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

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!

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

Beautiful, surreal landscape! Excellent for photography

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