Garden of the Gods Observation Trail

EASY 239 reviews
#2 of 20 trails in

Garden of the Gods Observation Trail is a 0.5 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Harrisburg, Illinois that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
0.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
39 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

walking

cave

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

rocky

Observation Trail is a 1/4-mile flagstone loop walk containing unique sandstone rock formations and panoramic views of the surrounding Garden of the God Wilderness.

wow! just wow!

hiking
1 day ago

Nice short trail with a lot to see!! Absolutely beautiful!! Can't wait to go back!

hiking
12 days ago

Nice easy trail with great views and rock formations. Worth a look if in the area.

18 days ago

Not surprising that this is a big draw for visitors, beautiful vistas for very little work! Fun scrambling on the rocks, good late afternoon cap on a day of more intense hiking.

19 days ago

Beautiful area to explore. Definitely bigger than I was expecting! You’re welcome to climb on the rocks as much as you want which added for extra entertainment. Could’ve spent hours just sitting and taking in the view

hiking
1 month ago

Absolutely amazing views!

2 months ago

Beautiful scenery!

2 months ago

Never disappointed! Beautiful!

2 months ago

Traveled from Tennessee just to see it and it didn’t disappoint. Just wish it was a little longer. Absolutely beautiful!!

hiking
2 months ago

The rock formations were really cool. We had fun climbing on all the rocks. Views were amazing!

nature trips
2 months ago

First trip to GOG! Awesome. Rock formations overlook GOG, westward. Was looking for a sunrise meditation facing the east. Not possible due to the tree tops. Totally satisfied, though. Perfect for a sunset meditation and gazing.

2 months ago

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!

hiking
3 months ago

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.

3 months ago

Gurrr!!!!! Woooooo!

hiking
3 months ago

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.

3 months ago

went with Katie and marley. was a beautiful day, nice view with plenty of fresh air.

hiking
3 months ago

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 ;)

hiking
3 months ago

Easy hike with nice views. Geology rocks!

3 months ago

very easy hike. trails well maintained.

hiking
3 months ago

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.

hiking
4 months ago

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.

walking
4 months 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.

4 months ago

Easy to follow trail with beautiful views of garden of gods.

walking
4 months ago

Beautiful, surreal landscape! Excellent for photography

hiking
4 months ago

Gorgeous views! Kids didn’t want to leave!

5 months ago

The trail is short, but beautiful. There are benches along the trail to sit and enjoy the view. I went in March. The view in summer or fall would be even better.

hiking
5 months ago

This Trail Is small VERY SMALL! but worth the stop it is listed in the Smothsonia as the top 50 in the USA! On Smithsonia.Com and top for Illinois very Beautiful place. if you trail it it dont take long but in my case it lasted for almost 9 hours .Put me in a Wilderness and I'll stay as long as possible and cry when I have to leave. There are a few folks walking around but I seem to be able to figure out where to go to get away from them plus I went in the middle of the week so that helps. beautiful place I was there in Oct 2017 for the fall colors PERFECT!!!!!!!!

7 months ago

Must see!

8 months ago

Great trail and dog friendly!

9 months ago

Most areas are easily accessible to all. This short trail rewards with amazing views that are some of the best in the midwest.

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