Jackson Falls Trail is a 3.7 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near McCormick, Illinois that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

3.7 miles
416 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly




horseback riding

nature trips

rock climbing






wild flowers




Jackson Falls trail follows the top of the bluff (southeast) around to the "dog leg" where you can walk into the canyon. Rock Climbing and Bouldering are favorite activities. Rock climbing and bouldering between three water falls.

16 days ago

Beautiful trail!! It is hard to figure out how to get down to the waterfall. Go LEFT when you are on top of the waterfall. There are rocks that you climb down right after the wooden bridge. There is another spot of rocks to climb down right before the open field that will allow a longer hike. The waterfall was one of the best I’ve seen in Illinois thus far.

29 days ago

I was nervous about this because I hike with my two labs and some reviews were mixed. First of all, the drive down there is NOT bad. If you go slow, there is no reason why any car wouldn’t be able to make it down there. The hike itself is very nice. There is one spot that is a climb down (and back up). My dogs were hesitant and scared but finally went down. I would think an agile dog would probably hop right down. The waterfall was just a trickle but still very pretty. The trail gets confusing once you’re in the canyon but I’m pretty sure it all takes you to the same place. Giving it 4 stars because there are tons of boulders and tree roots to watch for. I wish I could have looked up a little more than down at my feet .

2 months ago

This trail is beautiful, even today when it’s bone dry and no falls. The rock overlooks are magnificent and if you go left when you get to the trail, just past the wooden bridge, you can scramble done the rockslide to get to the trails below. The rocks and formations and trees and butterflies!! Loved every moment!

3 months ago

We hiked down the the falls in the shorter loop next to the road. Beautiful scenery, falls weren't too impressive, more of a trickle in early June despite the rain a few days earlier, but we expected that. The trails are not well marked, you need to either know the area or bring a GPS! We used this app (AllTrails) and were exceptionally glad we did or we would have gone in the wrong direction more than once. There is a faster way to get down to the falls than going all the way around to Helispot, and we took this way back up to our car. I suggest if you want to get to the bottom quickly, you do the following: (1) drive past the parking area/trailhead and park on the side of the road about half a mile down, coordinates 37.505523, -88.681285 (caution, road is pretty bumpy but can be managed) (2) hike down from the road approx 100ft to the trail and go left, (3) pass over a wooden bridge, (4) at GPS coordinates 37.504375, -88.681905 clamber down the boulder trail to the bottom of the bluff (there is a red emergency/first-aid staion @ the bottom). It may look impossible at first glance which is how we missed it, but it is not hard if you are physically able and saves you from having to walk over a mile further. (4) go northwest about a quarter mile, stay right along the bottom of the bluffs until you get to the falls. We learned of this way from a very kind older gentleman who was camping overnight @ the bottom of the falls.

4 months ago

Pretty rock formations in the canyon , but wayyy toooi many trees blocking paths.

5 months ago

Wish we could have found where to descend from the upper rim trail. We enjoy the hike but wished we could have gotten to the falls.

6 months ago

beautiful area.

6 months ago


6 months 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.

7 months 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!

8 months ago

This is one of my favorite places in the Shawnee National Forest. I have been here several times. This is a family friendly place. Although the trails are not well marked, there is a place to easily descend into the canyon to the base of the falls, although some climbing is required. It’s mostly just descending some large rocks. We typically take the upper rim (if you’re standing at the top of the falls facing the falls, go to the left) across to the opposite falls (not typically flowing well unless there has been a major rainfall) on the other side of the canyon and about 1/4 mile around, there is a moderately beaten path to an easily (if you’re in relatively good shape) descended rock formation that will take you into the canyon. This side is fun to walk around as well. We LOVE picnicking at the base of the falls. It is so peaceful. I highly recommend a sunny day after a decent rain. There are many people typically climbing and rappelling on the rock formations. I’d say there is something for everyone, if you’re able to do a little climbing (just from one stone to another- not anything requiring special equipment)!

8 months ago

If you cross the railroad tracks and go over to the Jackson Hollow side, the hike is even better. If you know where the other trails are in that area you can link them all together to make a nice weekend backpacking trip. It’s the best backpacking in the Shawnee. If you do Jackson Hollow stay near the cliffs. The trail is faint ever since they kicked horses out of that area. To cross the tracks, when the trail hits the tracks, turn left and walk down the tracks about 400 yards and you will see on the other side the place to cross into it. There is a large trail that runs down the bottom of the valley but you will want to get up by the cliffs. The Promise Land climbing area is over on that side of the tracks. My hike starts on the Jackson Hollow side crosses the tracks goes through the Jackson Falls area up the dog walk and back to our campsite. I’ve been hiking this area for about 50 years.

9 months ago

um hmmmm mother nature is a beautiful beast

10 months ago

There are at least 2 ways down without rappelling. Look for the emergency kits. The ways down are near those. It’s really cool to be challenged to get to the base. Also we found a rock carving from 1861 right near the trail!

horseback riding
11 months ago

Beautiful trail

11 months ago

My only complaint is that there isn’t a clear way marked on how to get to the bottom without rappelling. I’ll definitely go back. Beautiful views. And the nearby observation tower gives an awesome view of the surroundings.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The trail is a beautiful place, but if you don't know the trail itself it is very easy to get lost. In a couple of case while I was hiking trail #49 I came upon a sign nailed to a tree that said 49, however, I had three options of which way to go. Once I made the wrong guess and we got lost. As I said the trail is great, but the labeling of the trails is horrible.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Absolutely beautiful place. But the trails are not labeled consistently. Extremely easy to get lost, as I did, and ended up making an 8.5 mile hike out of a 4 mile hike.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The climbers, rock formations, railroad walk and scrambling all make for a very interesting hike.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Beautiful autumn hike.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Nice rocky hike with the family. Falls dry in August though.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Excellent place to go hiking and get away from everything

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

For a southern Illinois park, It was clean. Fairly maintained and relatively busy. Visit after or during a good rain and enjoy the waterfall, otherwise there isn't one. Some regular trails some equestrian and some combination of both. Nice rock formations which brings rock climbers from around the area. Moderate hiking fairly well marked. Parts kid friendly....parts not....over all pretty nice.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Paths weren't labeled at all. You could easily get lost.

Monday, May 15, 2017

beautiful hike steep hill but its paved. worth the trip from nashville

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I usually walk through the campgrounds and sit by waterfall. I've seen numerous people jump off this waterfall or rock climb down. Wouldn't do that personally but to each their own.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

all the reviews before me explains it all. Great place

Thursday, March 30, 2017

This trail was fantastic. Lots of great view from the bluff and even better once you get below. Spent many hours here so that I could figure out exactly how the trail works. If you’re into climbing this is the place for you as well. Every boulder I saw had either bolts for top rope climbing or bolts up the face.

I read a few AllTrails reviews of people getting lost so I wanted to figure it out for myself. Conclusions are as follows:

Basically the "Jackson Falls" trail is a big U shape going along the top of the bluffs listed as trail #048 and there is an equestrian trail #049 that follows the inside of the U from below. I believe the 5.8 listed probably refers to completing the entire U. Coming from the parking lot you quickly arrive at the first waterfall. From there you can either continue to the right (which I'm sure many do based on how it is marked on AllTrails) or you could cross the creek and continue left. There are ways down on both tips of the U regardless of which route you choose but the trail ends more abruptly and has a clearer descent location than if you were to go to the right (if you go to the right I would suggest starting to look for a descent shortly after you begin seeing the railroad tracks). Both tips of the U are approximately 1.1 or 1.2 from the first waterfall.

The cooler part of the trek is when you descend and begin hiking #049. It was surreal to be hiking next to everything that I had just been admiring from above. The trail follows the bluffs around to the railroad tracks that you would see towards the end of your trek had you taken a right at the beginning. You can follow the tracks for a couple hundred yards and begin looking for your way back up to #48 when you come across a large rock with some spray paint on it. There are a few different places to scale back up in the area, some more difficult than others.

All in all I thought this was one of the better treks in Shawnee. I felt like every single time I came around a corner there was another impressive view. Please let me know if this helped you navigate! Cheers!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Perhaps the best hike in the immediate area. Nice falls, huge boulders, well worth the trip.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Wonderful trail!! Beauty the entire way through!

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