Red Cedar Trail is a 10.7 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Makanda, 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.

10.7 miles
1,269 feet

dogs on leash




nature trips

rock climbing






wild flowers



Directions From the north: Take Interstate 57 South to the Route 13 exit (Carbondale - Exit #54B), head west (right) on Rt. 13 toward Carbondale, go approximately 15 miles. Look for Wal-Mart on your right. Turn left at this light (Giant City Road). Continue 12 miles to the south. Giant City Road will lead you into the park. From the south: Follow I-24 to I-57 North, or stay on I-57, to the Rt. 148 exit (Exit #45), head northwest on 148 for approximately 2 miles. Turn left on Grassy Road. There is a convenience store on this corner. Follow Grassy Road for 5-7 miles. Stay left when you come to a Y. Continue southwest on Grassy Road. Grassy Road will come to a T at Giant City Road. Turn south (left) on Giant City Road. Continue approximately 4 miles to the park. From the east: Head west on I-70 or, if you are further south, take I-64 to I-57 South. Continue approximately 50 miles south from I-64 to the Route 13 exit (Marion - Exit #54B), head west on Rt. 13 toward Carbondale, go approximately 15 miles. Look for Wal-Mart on your right. Turn left at this light (Giant City Road). Continue 12 miles to the south. Giant City Road will lead you into the park. From the west: Head east on I-64 approximately 50 miles from St. Louis. Take the Rt. 127 (Nashville) exit south. Continue south for approximately 50 miles to Murphysboro. At Murphysboro, go left or east for approximately 10 miles. You will pass through the town of Carbondale. Watch for the mall on your right. When you see Wal-Mart on your left, this is your light. Take a right here on Giant City Road heading south for 12 miles into the park.

28 days ago

Hiking 10/19/18 - Beautiful area! The trail was marked great in most places but missing several important places so that we were wandering around looking for a direction- losing time and adding 3 miles to the hike. Finished in 9 hours with moderate speed, stopped once for lunch for around 45 minutes. The alltrails app was a life saver! No ticks, very few bugs/spiders as mentioned in other posts.

1 month ago

Trails are horribly marked.. we spent hours going in circles trying to figure out which way to go..

1 month ago

one of the most horribly blazed trail I have ever been on, blazing is good through the first half right up to about 300yds from the road then you have to walk out of the woods and find the horse R2R trail to take you back up, no blazes, then at the top of the BIG hill where the trail splits, do not follow the the red/white trail blaze it will walk you 3/4 of a mile out of your way to a horse trail, instead stay on the R2R trail at the split and you should be fine. I ended up walking 9 miles to a 6 mile campsite. I was there 9/29 and little water on late trail get your water early.

2 months ago

A nice walk through the woods. I was caught off guard by an incoming cold front and the temp dropped nearly 20 degrees when I was halfway in. I had decided to shed some weight before heading out and not pack my down. That was a huge mistake that I won't make again.

2 months ago

When we did this, it was tough to stay on trail in spots. If we do it again, it will be in late fall or winter. I was picking ticks off constantly.

2 months ago

This trail is terrible. It isn’t maintained at all. There are spider webs you walk into every couple of feet. No water stops along the way. Poison ivy all over. I’d hop over the state line and hike in Missouri.

3 months ago

This trail would’ve been fantastic if there wasn’t a spider web every 5 feet we had to go through!!

5 months ago

This was a very beautiful hike, although one that has some issues. I believe it's closer to the 12 miles that the entrance signs say versus the 10.7.

We took two dogs with us, and if you are going to do this make sure they have plenty of tick repellant. Ticks are very bad this year and we picked at least 150 off of each dog, and that's not an exaggeration. Make sure you have your own repellant too, as we found a ton on ourselves.

The terrain on this trail is back and forth. A lot of gravel, mud, rock, and road. Make sure you have very good hiking shoes. Your feet will thank you for it. It is also a lot of unnecessary up hill and woodsy treks ...this will probably make you angry as it did us because the trail would take you through the woods for a second just to put you in the same field later on. Be prepared to question a lot. I would not recommend going a day after it rains (which is what we did), give the trail time to harden back up, otherwise expect a ton of mud.

The trail has very good markers in some places and very poor marking in others. I think we back tracked at least 5 times because we lost track of the markers. Pulled up the map a few times as well. Just don't lose sight of them... They are also down in a few places where trees have fell.

If you like trails that have a lot of creek bed action, this is one for you. It is very beautiful. I think all in all it took us about 7 hours with two dogs and multiple stops of about 10-20 minutes each. A lot of nice little areas to stop off and eat your packed lunch as well. Pack extra water, you are gonna need it.

7 months ago

This is a really great trail. However listen to other reviewers and take the trail counter clockwise. I chose to take trail clockwise and spent excess time going up hills. I completed trail In 6 hours. I did stop at red cedar trail campground there are picnic tables, fire pits, and bathrooms. Brought quick snack to refuel for energy.

And completed the entire trail in 1 day (6 hours). If time was available I would have loved to spent the night at the campground. I will be back to try this trail again.

I saw several turkeys, squirrels, and birds. No snakes thank goodness.

Some trail tips take bug spray tick repellant. Bring extra water. Watch where you step on the rocks they are slippery. The trail for most part is well marked, there were a few points I had to look @ the map. The trail is marked with white diamond w a red circle. The trail does interloop with river to river trail and horse trail, just make sure to look for those white diamonds because they can be easy to miss if your looking at the beauty of the hike.

7 months ago

fun trail. had to look at the map once or twice, but besides that had a good hike.

11 months ago

Using this as a neutral rating as the trail was closed on 12/2/2017. Hopefully it will re-open soon. Was looking forward to a nice day hike.

11 months ago

This is a great trail for beginners. For the most part it was well marked. It was perfect for a fall hike. I think it would be more difficult in the spring/summer.

Monday, November 13, 2017

This trail was well marked with red circles and hiking in the fall is the perfect time! I would totally recommend this as a great two day hike for anyone that enjoys different scenery every step you go. It was a hiking challenge but nothing dangerous and safe for children which is what I wanted.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Nice trail to hike, especially for a beginner backpacker. Not too much of a distance and the campsite is almost in the middle. There is a decent amount of elevation climb. I did this hike twice and I personally prefer going counter clockwise. Campground has picnic tables and firepits. Camping with a hammock can be difficult, but is doable.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Nice trail hiked to the campsite in the rain which made the rocks a little slick but over all trail was pretty easy to follow. Could use a bit of maintenance cutting some of the blow down off the trail but still not so bad. Was marked very well except maybe two spots but if you go farther than 50yards without seeing a trail marker you most likely are off trail.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

I completed the full hike on 8/20/17. This trail is through spider country. Find a 12ft stick to tunnel your way through spider webs that cross the path every 6 steps. I would also recommend tick repellent. I walked though a nest and had hundreds of baby ticks covering my pants. Outside of battling insects, the hike was fairly easy to complete.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The trail was over grown with weeds and the path started to disappear. We ended up having to turn around less then a mile into it.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Didn't go too far in. Just far enough to setup the Hammocks for the night. But, the trail is kinda over grown once you get further in. And it could use a few more well placed markers. We did see a park ranger walking in on Saturday morning with a weedeater when we were headed out. So they are working on it. Spiders were bad as with any lightly used trail, but I found zero ticks on me. I did spray down with repel first tho. I would go back again in the fall, or early spring. It would be a nice trail.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

We turned around and left. Overgrown and spider infested!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

This was a good loop that had a bit of everything you would expect while backpacking. A few downed trees, a couple poorly marked blazes, a trail washout, water crossings, mud, hills, and of course...ticks. All in all I really enjoyed the trail. If you are preparing for longer hike or just wanting to hike for exercise, this is a great trail. If you are wanting beautiful views or an easy stroll, it would be better if you chose a different trail. I would suggest walking clockwise, left, south from the trailhead. It has the best blazing.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

alltrails has this trail as easy. compared to the rocky mountains or someplace like that, it probably is easy. but for southern Illinois and the conditions of the trail I'm rating it as rugged. lots of brush to bust through and rocky rough trails with alot of up and down hills. plenty of water sources for filtering and a nice campsite about 7.5 miles in. I prefer rough trails but some wider trails and less brush would have been nice. I would recommend this for a fall hike when the leaves change. summer time has too much foliage to be able to see much scenery. all in all, I don't feel like I wasted 14 miles. it was a great workout. I would go back.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Great backing trip! There was plenty of water, the camping was great, and I would definitely recommend it!

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Beautiful, but we got lost a million times. Not a super "easy" trail. We went in the dead of summer (training for fall trail race) so of course things were very overgrown, and it was in the 90's :) Be prepared with water, food, and a cell phone! Check for ticks.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Absolutely loved this place! By far the coolest place I've been in the bi state area, hands down. This park offers a variety of trails, all with an excellent payoff. I will certainly be making a return visit with the family.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

I really like this trail! I never realized how pretty this part of Illinois. The leaves were starting to change which made for some great views and it has some technical sections which are a lot of fun.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Most of the trails 'sort of' interconnect via off trail path's. Keep your eye's out. So much exploring to do !!!!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Hiked the Red Cedar Trail today. (7/23/16) It was well marked. I only got turned around a couple of times and it was quickly corrected. The campground is hard to find. You must walk up an electric power pole right of way, in order to find it. Take lots of water. The description says easy. It's not easy. Yes, parts of it are on roads or gravel paths, but other parts are up and down hills. It balances out. I hiked the trail in 5.5 hours. It would be a nice trail to camp on, then finish the next day.

Monday, July 11, 2016

I agree western side not as well marked or maintained. Great day hike

Sunday, May 29, 2016

I love it! Spending the weekend with family! It's beautiful!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

It's a short trail and not bad in elevation changes. But the scenery is great and we'll worth it since the trail is right off the highway.

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