With its breathtaking natural beauty and unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation, a trip to Giant City State Park and the Makanda area offers loads of fun. From camping and horseback riding to fishing and rappelling, it’s an outdoor lover’s paradise. You will love the many hiking trails. Especially popular is the Giant City Nature Trail, home of the “Giant City Streets” – huge bluffs of sandstone formed 12,000 years ago.
GIANT CITY VISITOR CENTER:
Learn about the ‘Giant Streets’ that gave the park it’s name and get maps and trail details. 8 – 4 daily.
Giant City State Park Visitor’s Center contains an exhibit hall with displays of the natural, cultural, and geological features of the park. Don’t miss the 10 minute film about the park in the audio/visual room. There is a Discovery Corner that kids love to explore, in addition, ask about the scavenger hunt for kids. Get a prize upon returning it at the end of the hike all filled out, but watch your time, the center closes at 4 PM.
Giant City Rock climbing and rappeling
Two locations in the park allow climbing and rappelling. The areas of Devil’s Standtable cliff and Shelter #1 bluff at the Makanda entrance are accessible to climbers, and ropes are permitted on these cliffs. Climbers should bring their own equipment and go directly to the bluff, because no check-in is necessary. No permanent anchors allowed. All climbing activities at the park are conducted at your own risk, so beware, cliffs are steep and sandstone can be slippery when wet. Always use caution, as venomous copperhead snakes, an Illinois protected species, can be found on sunny ledges. Southern Illinois sandstone bluff plant communities are fragile, so tread lightly in these areas. Always carry out what you carry in!
Hiking in Giant City State Park
Exploration of the picturesque natural wonders of Giant City State Park can be enjoyed along the Post Oak, Devil’s Standtable, Giant City, Stonefort, Indian Creek, Trillium and Arrowwood trails. While the Post Oak Trail offers an option for disabled visitors, the 12-mile Red Cedar Hiking Trail provides an invigorating challenge to the truly dedicated backpacker, as it offers an overnight campsite at the halfway point. Trillium Trail is a great place to see spring flowers, but in Spring, Summer & fall, be sure to use insect and tick repellent.
Hiking is available year-round, and if you have visited in another season winter can offer a very different experience. The weather is generally mild, and you can pretty much have the trails all to yourself. Enjoy a peacefulness that only winter can provide.
Winter is a great time to enjoy the slower, quieter side of Shawnee Forest Country in Southernmost Illinois. The cooler temperatures mean no bugs and the trees are bare, allowing you to see much further into the forests. Furthermore, bluffs hidden behind the summer foliage emerge dramatically into sight.
Don’t miss this rustic beauty of Giant City Lodge. It’s a great place to refuel your body after an active day!
Amazing hand-hewn log built lodge always impresses, and is a fun place to dine. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, the spacious Lodge offers rustic beauty with multi-hued sandstone and white oak timber.
The Lodge serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, and has an excellent reputation for food and hospitality. You’re sure to enjoy some of the best fried chicken ever if you choose the specialty of the Lodge, the all-you-can-eat Family Style Chicken Dinner, but be sure and save room for some warm fruit cobbler!
The Lodge also features a lounge and historic Clem & Arlies bar, gift shop, and guest cabins for a quiet getaway.
The Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC built much of the original Giant City, and a statue dedicated to the CCC sits in the courtyard.
Be sure and climb the spiral staircase of the Giant City water tower for the scenic views.
Cabin rental: 3 styles of cabins are available for rent.
The Historic Cabins are located on the south side of the Lodge, set in the location of the original CCC built cabins. These one-room cabins offer two double beds.
The Prairie Cabins are located north of the lodge, offering a queen bed in the bedroom, with a full-size Murphy bed in the living room. Each unit connects to another unit by a common door.
The four Bluff Cabins are Larger and more scenic, with stylish decor. A stay in the Bluff Cabins, which are nestled in the bluffs near the Lodge, offers two queen beds in the bedroom, an electric fireplace in the living room, a wet bar with a small refrigerator, and a deck overlooking the woods below.
Giant City Stables: Saddle up for trail rides with experienced wranglers through private trails
Even if you don’t want to ride, walk through the stables to see, and even pet the horses.
The Stable maintains approximately 30 horses of different types and breeds for your enjoyment. There are horses of all different levels, hence they will match you with a horse that meets your needs. Experience a 3 plus mile ride on trails in the heart of the park with an experienced wrangler.
Pony Rides: Children can take a hand led pony ride, which is led by one of the wranglers on a short trail.
Download a mobile tour guide app to find some fun things to do and see in the area.
Click the photo below to learn more about a Canopy Tour, Fish Hatchery and the Village of Makanda.