Sentry Bluff Trail

HARD 64 reviews

Sentry Bluff Trail is a 4 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Ozark, Illinois that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

4.0 miles
341 feet



rock climbing

trail running








no dogs

Directions from Harrisburg: take Highway 145 south 9 miles to Delwood. Take Forest Rd. 402 west 4 miles to Forest Road 447. Turn south on Forest Road 447, continue past Teal Pond to Forest Road 848. Turn southwest on Forest Road 848 for 2 miles to the Recreation Area entrance. From Vienna, take Highway 45 north to Ozark. Turn east and follow the directional signs to the recreation area entrance.

1 day ago

Really lovely trail all along the way. Easy to follow except at the stream crossings. There are no bridges so if the water is up like it was for us you will need to wade. I built a rocky causeway to pass the first crossing upstream but the downstream crossing was much too deep and we had to get our feet wet. The spring is not visible from the trail and appears on the map to source several miles away which may be visible from another road which passes through that way(just by visual inspection on a map). The trail was easy to follow in most places though some spots we lost it due to sharp turns and lack of arrows indicating the proper path which caused us to do some unnecessary ledge crawling. The sentry bluff trail(Blue diamonds) travels along with part of the Natural bridge trail(Yellow Diamonds) close to the parking area where the natural bridge can be seen across the creek. However unless coming in a dry/low water season you will be getting your feet wet to see the natural bridge or to hike any trails on the other side of the stream. Both the entire length of the sentry trail we took and the finale of the natural bridge at the end were stunningly beautiful. A spraying water fall into the keyhole of the natural bridge gave rise to a small rainbow next to a a large snaking tree which climbed the height of the bridge into the canopy above.
Definitely well worth the visit. Better trail marking in places and bridges for stream crossings would make my 5 star review.

4 months ago

Just did this trail and loved it! It’s not difficult from an elevation perspective but there are a few tricky spots to maneuver. This is different in that there aren’t any “overlook” areas like Garden of the Gods, but there are many beautiful rock formations along the way. Trail is really well marked.....just follow the blue markers.

5 months ago

The trail is difficult in some spots but for the most part it is easy walking..A few great rock formations and a natural bridge are among the highlights..Trail is marked well until it comes to a sudden. turn ..we got turned around a couple times but no big deal. Definitely worth your time to hike.

6 months ago

just went here, the forest service has done a lot of upgrades and remarking of trails great place

6 months ago

neat rock formations. definitely wear long pants as the trail has a significant amount of poison ivy along it.

7 months ago

Loads of trash, would be awesome if not for disgusting people.

8 months ago

Several different trails to choose from. Not too difficult. Enjoyable day. Don't go after a good rain, lots of slick spots with steep drop offs.

8 months ago

will definately go back!

8 months ago

Great off the path hike. Definitely would go back! :)

9 months ago


10 months ago

I feel like there were some difficult spots to hike through and the trails were easy to get lost from,but this trail had some awesome spots to stop and look around at the scenery.

10 months ago

This is a pretty difficult and, at times, treacherous hike. The trail was pretty clearly marked except where there were sudden turns. We, like many people, got lost twice. We saw a family making a risky climb up a fallen log to try to get back on the trail. The scenery was ok, but I'm not sure it was worth the risk. Jackson Hole was a MUCH nicer place to visit. I doubt we'll come back here.

11 months ago

Lengthy hike with unclear markings. Lost the trail a few times. Only a few high points. Definitely a trail I'll only hike once.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Best hike in the park. Natural bridge and the steel ladder was the most fun.

The trail is poorly marked. It became a guessing game if I was actually on the trail.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

There are some cool rock features here. Unfortunately trail markers are terrible and to see the arch and half of the cool stuff you have to ford the river as they haven't seen to build a bridge. The day I went it had rained and the river was up several feet and unfordable.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Got lost but enjoyed it cause the views were worth it. Natural bridge was fun to get to, since you have to cross the water. I climbed the ladder but didn't explore the top since my dog was anxiously waiting for me. Devil's backbone was easy to find as well following the black trail markers. Oddly enough... the stairs back to the parking lot was the hardest part!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Loved it. Will be going back to explore the rest of the trails and spend the day.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

We will definitely go back here. There is so much to explore! The white trail is hard to follow but it is beautiful. Be prepared to get your feet wet. We crossed 3 or 4 sections we could not jump across.
We will be going back to the Yellow Trail, we didn't do the whole thing so we didn't find the ladder, but everything is beautiful along the way and you will see trees growing through rock formations.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

This trail has 4 parts/trails to it. We ended up hiking all but 1. All trails are nicely marked except for the White trail. I loved the Devils Back Bone on the white trail and recommend walking to it and just turning right back around to avoid the poorly marked portion of the trail. The yellow trail has the best rock formation with a rock wall ladder that isn't for the faint of heart. Nice trail overall.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Absolutely gorgeous hike. However the trails aren't very well marked and easy to lose. We started on the blue trail and had to back track several times. Towards the end the blue trail requires you to cross the river on some rocks but there was nothing telling you that was the way to go and we ended up continuing onto the yellow trail and then the white trail which stops out of nowhere. We got a bit lost for several hours and went in a few big circles before we got back to the rocks in the river and went across which leads you to the huge stone stairs back to the parking lot. Wouldn't have been a big deal if it hadn't gotten dark before we found our way out. Definitely be prepared and bring a flashlight.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Thursday, September 29, 2016

I enjoyed this trail. Had to duck inside a cave to escape a few passing rainshowers but that was about it. Trail is marked well in some areas, not so well in others. If I had not missed the trail and "gone rogue" I never would have seen the family of river otters. That was a fun site indeed.
(hiked this in late March or early April of 2016)

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Trail leads a local swimming hole with a nice jumping spot, but beyond that was difficult to follow and somehow we never found the "loop" and ended up doubling back after reaching a sign that said trail not maintained beyond this point.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

very beautiful!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

High bluffs, boulder falls, natural bridge are just a few of the high lights these trails offer. Decent in distance.....however found some of the trails poorly marked. Never lost but had to backtrack a bit to keep moving forward.

Monday, April 11, 2016

This trail was marked with blue and yellow arrows. The entrance to the trail begins with a steep rock staircase which leads to the blue spring water creek. At the bottom of the rock staircase, we went right and hiked on some hilly and rocky trail for about a mile and a half, but ended up turning around and hiking back. We then took the left side of trail and hiked for about a half a mile until we got really wet crossing a stream and headed back. It was a great time spent on a Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Great wilderness area near Ozark, IL that should be a State Park, but thankfully is not to keep the crowds down. Numerous overlooks of the canyon with rushing water, deep blue pools and large bluffs and boulders throughout. Some of the trail requires creek crossing which may require wet feet. All in all, one of the best trails in Southern IL.

cross country skiing
Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Beautiful hike. Did the white diamond and loved it!!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A lot of childhood memories here. There is a natural arch, a lot of water depending on season. Devil's Backbone is a great place. Springs to swim in. Nice camping area as well. Bluffs, and rock overhangs. A lot of bouldering could be done. In the old days there was rappelling that was allowed.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Can't say enough about this little gem! It's by far the most beautiful trail ice hiked so far in southern Illinois Shawnee National Forest. To find it go south out of Harrisburg, IL on hwy 34/145 to delwood. Stay on Hwy 145 south until u see sign for Bell Smith Springs. Follow this rd and the signs to Bell Smith Springs. We started on trail to far left down to the natural arch until we discovered the white diamond trail. It was a tough intense trail but ended with a sign that the white diamond trail was not maintained beyond this point about 1 hour in so we turned around crossed stream and checked out the natural arch then back up to the parking lot. 2 hour hike total and I felt it! Going to return to check out 3 other trails there as well as a spot called burden falls.

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