Cove Hollow Trail to Cedar Lake Trail

MODERATE 50 reviews
#6 of 19 trails in

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.

5.4 miles
452 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly




horseback riding

mountain biking

paddle sports








over grown


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.

2 months ago

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!

2 months ago

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.

2 months ago

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

5 months ago

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.

6 months ago

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.

6 months ago

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

7 months ago

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.

8 months ago

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.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

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

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The best spot isn't on the main trail, if you find it you'll just know.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

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.

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.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

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.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

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.

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.

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.


Monday, November 03, 2014

The trail markers need refreshed and the signage replaced. Otherwise I really enjoyed this trail. Definitely going back.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

I was all over this place today and it rocks. lots of primitive camping sites and plenty of scenic spots. check it out.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

This trail has two trail heads, one towards the north of the lake and another towards the south-west (shown in map). We hiked in June and the shrubs were overgrown, at times we could not find the trail at all. Trees had fallen and closed off the trail completely. As mentioned in the previous review, the trail divides into two. So just be careful about which one you take. Overall, it's an unkempt trail and laden with ticks. But, it's also one of the most untouched trails, I have seen. Even though there might not be anyone in the trail, you can always hear nearby fishermen n the lake. So, if you don't mind getting lost or have a good internal sense of direction i would definitely suggest this one.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Awesome trail w some tough spots. Took low trail in then backtracked and took a high trail over falls and cave until the trail disappeared. Definitely goin back to this one!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

I hiked a portion of the Cedar Lake trail but really was focused on the portion of that trail comprising a segment of the River To River Trail. The trail was in pretty good shape and well defined. I did not have any real problems following the trail blazes but did rely on GPS to confirm decisions on which direction to head at a couple of junctions missing blazes. A portion of the R2R trail goes through Alto Pass and you head out of town on Chestnut street (road walking). Then the trail jumps off the road just before the water treatment plant. I hiked down to this point from the the Cedar Lake trailhead and then retraced my steps back to the lake. The R2R trail goes up the west side of the lake and then crosses the causeway. However, there is a fork in the trail that lets you hike on the east side of the lake as well (the right fork - heading north - is the Cedar Lake trail). I hiked that portion of the Cedar lake trail until it intersected with the R2R trail heading east to Makanda. This portion of the R2R trail intersects with Oak Grove Road (you road walk to Makanda and then the trail goes through Giant City State Park). There is a trail head at Oak Grove Road. I turned around at the trailhead and hiked back to Cedar lake. I crossed the Cedar Lake causeway back to where I parked the jeep. I tracked the hike and had an elevation change of 1700 feet so I believe the elevation gain of 100 feet shown for this trail underestimates the gain. It was an enjoyable hike.

Monday, August 19, 2013

This was a scenic hike with views of Cedar Lake on one side and frequent large rock formations on the other but it was a difficult trail. It was overgrown and rocky. That made the going slow. However, insect were not a problem (either ticks or mosquitoes). At the beginning of the trail head, the trail descends a rock bluff and you do scramble from rock to rock on the way down. There are large rock formations at the beginning of the hike. It is easy to follow the trail even though is is overgrown in many locations. I had the trail to myself even on the weekend. The Cove Hollow trail forks at one point and you have the option to take the Wolf Den trail. This trail goes to the top of the ridge and then descends to connect again with Cove Hollow trail. I looped back to the Cove Hollow trail head. If you want, you can continue on Cove Hollow trail and it connects with Cedar lake trail. Five miles of this trail was all I wanted for an afternoon. I believe the Cedar Lake trail is 4.5 mile loop. This would be a good area to hike, camp and fish.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Couldn't complete this trail on my mountain bike. Too advanced! We started on the West side of the lake off of hwy 127 boat dock road. The trail was marked hiking/horse trail. This was a single track trail and about 250 feet into the trail we had to get off our bikes and crawl under a large downed tree. This trail seemed to be all uphill and had a lot of exposed roots and rocks all over the track. We turned around after 2 miles and headed home. Very disappointed. I'm sure if you are an "extreme" mountain biker....this trail is for you. My review for this trail as a mountain bike trail has to be 2 stars. However, I would definitely hike this trail. It was a beautiful area and would love to see the whole trail.

mountain biking
Sunday, April 01, 2012

i finally completed this whole trail and it was probably the best workout of my entire life. Its an awesome trail with some pretty tricky downhill sections and some near impossible uphill sections. you will have to get off and push your bike because many of the hills are just too complicated to enjoy riding but its an out and back trail so you get to enjoy them on the way back. there are some pretty fast sections with small jumps and some of the hills are pretty difficult to ride down due to a bunch of rocks roots holes and washouts and sharp turns you have to choose your path wisely. the rocks are very hard on tires its best to have dual suspension. this trail is relatively well taken care of but very difficult in some areas especially if u try to ride up all the hills. awesome ride tho

mountain biking
4 months ago

8 months ago

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