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Cove Hollow Trail to Cedar Lake Trail

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Shawnee National Forest

Cove Hollow Trail to Cedar Lake Trail is a 5.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Alto Pass, Illinois that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 5.4 miles Elevation Gain: 452 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

backpacking

fishing

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

walking

cave

forest

lake

views

wildlife

muddy

over grown

rocky

A portion of this trail is a loop around Cedar lake. You also have the option for an out and back to the trailhead on Rowan Road at Makanda. The trail is well blazed with only a couple of junctions missing blazes. A large segment of this trail is part of the River to River trail. The trail is in good shape generally. There are a few washed out sections due to erosion on steeper slopes. There is a mixture of hardwood and some larger groves of short leaf pine. The first portion of the trail is a loop around the lake with an option to go out and back to the Lirley trail head near Makanda.

hiking
rocky
scramble
7 days ago

Great trail! Will definitely return when it’s not 90 degrees. There are two trailheads that both lead to the same trail(385), One is straight ahead and has a nice downhill that moves right gently and the other trailhead on the right involves a bit of bouldering. All the good camping spots are within the first 2 1/2 miles. I really like this trail because there are lots of different side routes that lead to caves and huge overhangs, lots to see don’t be afraid to venture off!

Spider nets

hiking
muddy
1 month ago

There were a few muddy spots, nothing terrible. But I didn’t get much out of this trail. There wasn’t much to see. It was a decent workout, but that was about it. There are plenty of other beautiful hikes in the Shawnee National Forest that I would much rather do.

hiking
muddy
rocky
1 month ago

We started this hike and it’s not marked very well for us from out of state. We ended up on private property and turned back. What we did walk that way was fun! Cliffs, rocky, muddy, and a waterfall. We tried the other trail but it lead to a campsite. It needs marked better was my only complaint.

hiking
over grown
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

everytime I show up, a nice dog is there to greet and hike with me. poison ivy is coming in strong, and prominent. some boulder climbs if you want to. nice bluffs. watch out for snakes.

Good and challenging hike

Long trail, 5 miles ONE WAY. Beautiful sights!

hiking
3 months ago

This was a great trail and easy to follow once we reached the other side of the lake. For the first half mile or so make sure to watch the markers, otherwise you’ll end up at private property. Other than that, it was very pleasant for early spring. Several people had dogs keeping up with them too.

hiking
bugs
rocky
scramble
3 months ago

hiking
rocky
3 months ago

Absolutely lovely trails you will enjoy this place! Some spots are a bit dangerous though so watch out for children and clumsy individuals

hiking
rocky
3 months ago

highly recommend this trail! a bit difficult to get to at first but once you get to it, very easy to follow! did with a friend who was a beginner and she was able to keep pace. there are trail dogs on this hike who made it all the more fun!!

hiking
muddy
4 months ago

Beautiful views, lots of good places for camping!

hiking
muddy
rocky
5 months ago

hiking
10 months ago

Cove Hollow is a great trail, that is linked with other trails. https://chrisbunton.blogspot.com/2017/06/cove-hollow-trail.html

Great trail can’t go wrong. Cliffs on one side and beautiful Cedar Lake on the other. Plenty of places to explore and the trail itself was great.

Sun Dec 30 2018

Some great views but the trail is not well maintained. Easily get lost. I took my dog with me and ended up removing at least a dozen of ticks.

Wed Dec 19 2018

So beautiful, a few tricky moments but that might just be because the water level was high while I was there. I had to cross two biggish creeks by just walking through the water but my hiking boots kept my feet dry. Gorgeous, lots of mushroom variety and there are a few patches of coniferous forest that make for magical transitions.

backpacking
Thu Oct 18 2018

Beautiful trail! I got lost several times as the trail is not marked much if at all, and freshly fallen leaves covered what remains of the trail. Camped in the cave/overhang and really enjoyed the views of the lake. I had company as one of the local dogs came sniffing around and joined me for dinner, then came back in the morning and seriously led me back to my car. Sweet sweet dog, it must belong to one of the locals as it had a bright orange collar on it that said “I live here, Cove hollow.” Definitely will be back, next time with a compass!

hiking
Mon Oct 15 2018

Hiked in 1.5 miles from cedar lake trailhead then back. (3 total). Trail was not groomed but still easy to follow. Very wooded. Bugs were not bad. No others hikers or bikers were there on a cool Oct afternoon.

Sat Sep 29 2018

Unless you’re familiar, This trail kinda fades away to nothing.

hiking
Mon Jul 09 2018

One of So IL’s best spots. Been coming here since 90s. Technical enough to keep it interesting but still big kid friendly. Spent an amazing night there last night with unbelievably forgiving weather for July. We camped at a well established spot by the water about a 15-20 min hike from the north CH trailhead and before the Wolf Den. Took 5 ticks off my son this morning but none on me. Guess they don’t like the smell of bourbon. New hikers should be aware of the two options at the north trailhead. The left fork is more friendly if you’re packing heavy or not in prime condition. The right fork is a bit of rock and boulder hopping down into the valley.

Sun May 27 2018

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.

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