Shawnee Forest Hiking

There are so many beautiful hikes in and around the Shawnee National Forest, that we had to narrow this page down to our favorites. As you can see our cabins are very centrally located to ALL the great hikes in Southern Illinois. For ease of planning, we have grouped them by direction from our cabins.


Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods 
This is one of the most popular hikes in Illinois and has been nationally reconized for its breathtaking views! This is a short hike (.25 mile loop), that you get to drive right up to. A favorite spot for the photography buffs.
Pounds Hollow 
Fantastic hikes (must do for hikers), swimming, fishing and other great summer day activities.
Rim Rock 
Around the top of "the rim" is only .8 miles, extend your hike by taking the rock stairs at the observation deck found half way around "the rim".
Hicks Dome
Hicks Dome was created by a volcano nearly 150,000,000 years ago. Although it never broke the surface, it caused the area to bulge up. Pilots flying over this hill are amazed by the shape of the volcano from the air.


One Horse Gap
One Horse Gap is a unique geological area. The rock formations remind me of a moon scape. Large areas are rounded and bare of vegetation.
Cave In Rock 
Upon entering the impressive 55 foot wide mouth of the cavern, one will stand in awe of the 100 foot vertical fissure leading to the top entrance. In both the 1700s and 1800s, the cave was used as shelter for a wide variety of visitors because of the convenience the natural chimney provided.
Iron Furnace
Very interesting historical site of the first Iron Furnace in the state (1837) – yes it’s still there. Hiking trails, swimming, and fishing too.


Garden of the Gods
Heron Pond
Millstone Bluff
An ancient Indian village site with petroglyphs! Hike is about 3/4 of mile and very scenic in the fall and early spring. Path is well marked and has wooden walkways at the site. Lots of informational boards and benches along the trail.
Trigg Tower
Getting to Trigg Tower is fairly easy and well signed along the roads. The stairs are fairly steep so watch your step. It looks daunting, but a smooth, steady pace goes by quickly (and bring some water up with you).
Dixon Springs
Great State park with modern swimming pool and other nice facilities. Great hikes with some bluffs and nice picnic areas, but the best part is it's across the street from the The Chocolate Factory!
Heron Pond
Heron Pond, located near Belknap, Illinois, is a beautiful Designated Illinois Nature Preserve. My favorite thing about this trail is that you get to see so many different landscapes in such a short hike.
Fort Massac
The historic site is a replica of the 1802 American fort that was on site. The historic fort area contains 2 barracks, 3 block houses, officer quarters, a well, and a stockade along with a fraise fence. The site also has the archaeological outline of the 1757 French Fort. There is also a visitors center/office complex along with an area for the museum.


Indian Kitchen/Lusk Creek Wilderness
This is the largest wilderness area in the state of Illinois and is home to some of the best hiking trails in the tri-state area. Great summer and winter hike. 100 feet canyon walls!
Sand Cave
This is the largest sandstone cave in North America and was used by members of the Underground Railroad as a shelter. Full of many crazy, natural rock formations, it would be an interesting hike indeed.
Bell Smith Springs
Great summer hike in the Shawnee Forest. Bring your trunks and old shoes as there are plenty of places to cool off in the cool blue water.
Burden Falls
At a 35 foot drop, Burden Falls seems small, but it's not just the waterfall that has you coming back, it's also the surrounding boulders, rocks, and a U-shaped canyon that create patterns and blend with the Falls. A photographers heaven, it offers multiple angles to shoot the perfect photo.
Jackson Falls
This is a great area for avid rock climbers as it offers a surplus of 60 foot sandstone bluffs with many named climbing routes. This area also features gorgeous hiking trails full of protected plants and endangered species in the forest.
Tunnel Hill Trail
Tunnel Hill State Trail stretches for 45 miles from Harrisburg to Karnak, with 2.5 miles being managed by the city of Harrisburg. The trail continues on a trails spur for 2.5 miles from Karnak to Cache River State Natural Area - Henry Barkhausen Wetlands Center on the old Chicago and Eastern Illinois railroad bed.
Ferne Clyffe
The hiking path is nicely coated with small brown rock and is wide enough to easily accommodate several hikers walking side by side. There is a very slight grade over the course of this .75 mile trail, but nothing to worry about. I would consider this path wheelchair and stroller friendly or as friendly as I have found in the Shawnee National Forest area.