Garden of the Gods Observation Trail is a 0.5 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Karbers Ridge, 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.

Length0.5 miElevation gain39 ftRoute typeLoop
Dogs on leashkid friendlyCampingHikingNature tripsWalkingBird watchingCaveForestPavedViewsWildflowersWildlifeMuddyRockyScramble
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Getting There

The Observation Trail is a 1/4-mile flagstone loop containing unique sandstone rock formations and panoramic views of the surrounding Garden of the God Wilderness within the Shawnee National Forest. There are older, vault toilets near the trailhead. This trail is likely not accessible for most strollers and wheelchairs due to the narrowness and steep grade. The trail is paved with flagstone so the surface can be uneven and have gaps between stones. The average grade is 9% and the max grade is 17%. The trail is about three feet wide.

Illinois Bureau of Tourism, J. R. Thompson Ctr. Suite 3-400, 100 West Randolph , Chicago, IL, 60601

Directions from Harrisburg: take Highway 145 south 5 miles to Highway 34, turn south. Take 34 south for 5 miles, then east on Karbers Ridge Road 2.5 miles to Garden of the Gods Road. Turn north onto Garden of the Gods Road. 1.5 miles to recreation area entrance road. There are directional signs from Harrisburg to the recreation area.

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Reviews (670)
Photos (935)
Recordings (446)
Completed (1,638)
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Ashley Martin
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HikingMuddyRocky

The trail is beautiful! A very easy hike with the potential to climb as you dare. The views are spectacular! A little crowded, but still fun.

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Meghan D.
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Hiking
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Karen Baumann
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Mountain biking
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Sirfranski User
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Pretty spot to be sure. Great place for a family with little ones, or to bring visiting family and friends. I was just a little underwhelmed after the research I had done.

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Megan Rose
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Hiking
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Robert Ogden
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Hiking
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Carol Mcclard
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Hiking
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Alan Van Giesen
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Hiking

Amazing

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Eli Opacich
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Hiking
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Jim Patrick
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Hiking

Nice walk along the cliffs. My wife loved the heights...no, no she didn't. :-)

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Angela Stacey
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HikingGreat!

The stone path is great and easy to walk on.

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Abby White
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Hiking
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John Sierakowski
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Hiking

Windy.

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Bill Passalacqua
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Hiking

Beautiful in afternoon winter light

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Mark Doss
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Hiking

Super

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Claudia Gunter
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HikingGreat!

Absolutely AMAZING!! It was chilly, light snow drizzles but clear. We hiked to the top and the horizon actually had purple mountains. The observation Trail Hike is a short loop but well worth the time. We headed to the Garden of the Gods Wilderness trail after.

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dana woodall
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Hiking

I was the only one here which was pretty nice.

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Monica W
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WalkingGreat!

Fun place but not for the anxiety prone! the trail is mostly opportunities to climb the big rocks which are also cliffs. my 7 year old rated this trail his favorite but the rest of the family preferred Rim Rock and Bell Smith Springs. If you've been to Elephant Rocks in MO and didn't love it, I'd pass on this one.

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Abby Line
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HikingGreat!

The views were amazing and we had the opportunity to go off trail to see more. It was crowded but we were able to social distance.

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Laura Connolly
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Hiking

Short but beautiful trail. paved and well defined. nice introduction to the area.

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Matt Kraus
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Hiking

very scenic, great rock formations. short little hike with big payoff per foot.

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Anna Ball
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Hiking

Great!

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Priyansh Dogra
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HikingGreat!

It was wonderful.

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Peter Emerson
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HikingGreat!

Gorgeous views! Easy and short trail.

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Shelley Criss
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Hiking

beautiful afternoon, busier than we expected.

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Ryan B
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Hiking
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Spencer L
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Hiking

Watch for the homemade, white signs, they're helpful. Took some different trails/shortcuts than suggested on the map. Various alternative trails to try out here. Beautiful rock formations. Not bad now with mud, but can see where it would be when wet out.

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Mark Stambaugh
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Hiking

Very crowded but worth the time. Easy hike. Lots of rocks to climb on.

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Jacob-Amanda Miller
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Hiking

Very crowded, tons of people out today

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