The Shawnee National Forest is a really big place – like 280,000 acres large. As you can imagine, there are plenty of places to hike. But what trails do you definitely have to go down? Here is a list of 8. Although there are many more trails, and loads of amazing things to see, these give you a great sense of the beauty that is found in Shawnee National Forest.
1. Rim Rock Recreational Trail
This trail only takes one mile. But it offers some of the most stunning views. It hugs the rim of a rock escarpment, hence the name. Hike it in the spring for delightful woodland flowers. There are impressive sandstone rock formations and massive bottomwood trees.
2. Garden of the Gods
Another short hike, the Garden of the Gods recreational trail is just half a mile long. It is a truly incredible trail for the view alone. Walk among the large, 320 million year old rocks. People sometimes climb the rock formations, too, but be careful!
3. Inspiration Point
This trail is just under a mile. It is an out and back trail located near Wolf Lake. This is actually located in LaRue Pine Hills. Sandstone bluffs that are 150 feet tall look out over the plains.
4. Jackson Falls
This is one of the best places to climb in Illinois. There are 60 climbing areas. But it is also a great place to take a hike. There is a 4.5 mile trail. There are also waterfalls.
5. Little Grand Canyon
Yes, Illinois has a grand canyon of its own. Over time, erosion has exposed a deep canyon and the bluffs around it have emerged. Get incredible views of the colorful cliffs around. And you can get an amazing view of the Mississippi floodplain.
6. Lusk Creek Canyon
Get an awesome view of something called Indian Kitchen. Awesome trails lead you by abandoned roads, cemeteries and amazing fruit trees. A whitewater run goes through the canyon.
7. Burden Falls
This is one of the best waterfalls in Illinois. Sounds of rushing waters overwhelm you, even away from the waterfall. The falls go 35 feet down. Boulders, rock and a u-canyon add to the overall beauty.
8. Panther Den WIlderness
This area is comprised of around 800 acres. Walk through walls--literally--to enter the den. There is a waterfall, too. Climb up and see a rectangular box "room" from above. This is a picture of runoff water near some of the large trees.