Hike more, worry less!   Get the family back outside and take time to reconnect with nature and one another. The fresh air is good for your mind, body and soul.  There’s no better place to do that than with an adventure to the Shawnee National Forest in Southernmost Illinois.

Scenic view in the Garden of the Gods area of the Shawnee National Forest

Shawnee Forest Country

Garden of the Gods and Rim Rock/Pounds Hollow Recreational area are two must see locations on the eastern side of the Shawnee National Forest. Both are located just off Karbers Ridge blacktop 30 minutes from Harrisburg.  Garden of the Gods consists of spectacular overlooks and views of unusual rock formations. One formation, known as Camel Rock, is featured in the America the Beautiful Quarter Program representing Illinois and came out in 2016.  Garden of the Gods has been listed in “USA Today” as one of “Ten Great Places to Get Nature on Film”.    There are two main trail systems.  The “Observation Trail” is a .25 mile stone path featuring some of the most well known formations.  The view of the 3300 acres of beautiful old growth forest from this trail is breathtaking.  Sunsets are especially beautiful.  The Wilderness area is over 320 million years old.  The sediment rock in this area is over 4 miles deep and the fractured bedrock has created some interesting rock formations that represent various objects.

There are other trails which interconnect for plenty of hiking. For those people who want even more extensive hiking River to River Trail enters the east end of the area from High Knob and proceeds south below the rock formations before bearing west again.  River to River Trail is a trail system which stretches across Illinois from the Ohio River to the Mississippi.

Rim Rock/Pounds Hollow Recreational area consists of a wonderful scenic trail of exceptional beauty and historic values.   The trail leads past remnants of a stone wall built by prehistoric Native Americans, an observation platform and steps descending through huge rock formations, narrow rock passageways via  stone steps to the floor below.  Ox Lot Cave, at the bottom, is a massive rock overhang where 19th century loggers kept their oxen and horses.  Continue hiking to the beautiful 28 acre forest lake known as Pounds Hollow Lake, or through massive sandstone canyons back to the top of the escarpment.  The upper trail is paved and less strenuous for hikers.  The lower trail has a dirt surface and leads along the base of the bluffs before looping back to the parking lot. 

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”

 Southern Illinois is a destination for hikers of all experience levels!

Those looking for a longer hike can take on the 3-mile Little Grand Canyon Trail that winds through the base of the canyon along the towering, 300-foot bluffs.

Rim Rock, Millstone Bluff, Sand Cave, Burden Falls, and Jackson Falls are just a few of the other areas to hike and enjoy. Shawnee National Forest has a hike or natural wonder that any member of the family won’t soon forget.

Hiking with Shawn can be found on social media platforms and is a great resource for all things outdoors!


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Boating and Fishing in Shawnee Forest Country - Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau · June 2, 2021 at 7:43 pm

[…] own backyard! For plenty of regional travel ideas, check-in every week for a Downstate Illinois Road Trip Roundup on themed topics showcasing several destinations across the southern portion of the state. Since it is National […]

Explore these fall hikes around the US – Kannews.cc · October 14, 2021 at 10:15 am

[…] sets the region ablaze in rich hues of orange, yellow, and red. Hiking-wise, journey along the Observation Trail, for a ¼-mile stone path brimming with eye-catching rock formations (there’s also a year-round […]

Explore these fall hikes around the US - Times News UK · October 14, 2021 at 10:17 am

[…] sets the region ablaze in rich hues of orange, yellow, and red. Hiking-wise, journey along the Observation Trail, for a ¼-mile stone path brimming with eye-catching rock formations (there’s also a year-round […]

Explore these fall hikes around the US - Pehal News · October 14, 2021 at 10:18 am

[…] the area ablaze in wealthy hues of orange, yellow, and crimson. Hiking-wise, journey alongside the Observation Trail, for a ¼-mile stone path brimming with eye-catching rock formations (there’s additionally a […]

UPDATE : Explore these fall hikes around the US - xoonews · October 14, 2021 at 10:31 am

[…] sets the region ablaze in rich hues of orange, yellow, and red. Hiking-wise, journey along the Observation Trail, for a ¼-mile stone path brimming with eye-catching rock formations (there’s also a year-round […]

Explore these fall hikes around the US - Trend Fool · October 14, 2021 at 10:40 am

[…] sets the region ablaze in rich hues of orange, yellow, and red. Hiking-wise, journey along the Observation Trail, for a ¼-mile stone path brimming with eye-catching rock formations (there’s also a year-round […]

Explore these fall hikes around the US – Tassco · October 14, 2021 at 10:42 am

[…] the area ablaze in wealthy hues of orange, yellow, and pink. Hiking-wise, journey alongside the Observation Trail, for a ¼-mile stone path brimming with eye-catching rock formations (there’s additionally a […]

Explore these fall hikes around the US - Trekking News · October 14, 2021 at 1:04 pm

[…] sets the region ablaze in rich hues of orange, yellow, and red. Hiking-wise, journey along the Observation Trail, for a ¼-mile stone path brimming with eye-catching rock formations (there’s also a year-round […]

Explore these fall hikes across the US – TechBondhu · October 14, 2021 at 5:07 pm

[…] the area ablaze in wealthy hues of orange, yellow, and purple. Hiking-wise, journey alongside the Observation Trail, for a ¼-mile stone path brimming with eye-catching rock formations (there’s additionally a […]

Explore these fall hikes around the US – Global Herald · October 14, 2021 at 7:44 pm

[…] sets the region ablaze in rich hues of orange, yellow, and red. Hiking-wise, journey along the Observation Trail, for a ¼-mile stone path brimming with eye-catching rock formations (there’s also a […]

Explore these fall hikes across the US - Nomadaweb · November 7, 2021 at 8:55 am

[…] the area ablaze in wealthy hues of orange, yellow, and purple. Hiking-wise, journey alongside the Observation Trail, for a ¼-mile stone path brimming with eye-catching rock formations (there’s additionally a […]

Explore these fall hikes around the US - Breaking News Today · November 8, 2021 at 10:42 am

[…] sets the region ablaze in rich hues of orange, yellow, and red. Hiking-wise, journey along the Observation Trail, for a ¼-mile stone path brimming with eye-catching rock formations (there’s also a year-round […]

Summer Adventures in Shawnee Forest Country - Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau · June 27, 2022 at 9:39 am

[…] Garden of the Gods and Rim Rock/Pounds Hollow Recreational area are two must see locations on the eastern side of the Shawnee National Forest.  Both are located just off Karbers Ridge blacktop 30 minutes from Harrisburg.  Garden of the Gods consists of spectacular overlooks and views of unusual rock formations. One formation, known as Camel Rock, is featured in the America the Beautiful Quarter Program representing Illinois and came out in 2016.  The “Observation Trail” is a .25 mile stone path featuring some of the most well known formations.  At the intersection of Garden of the Gods and Karbers Ridge roads, is a popular ‘selfie spot’ with Sassy the Sasquatch, a7-foot-tall statue weighing in at 2,600 pounds that has become a landmark in the sprawling forest near Herod.  Also located on that corner is the Garden of the Gods Outpost, where you’ll find souvenirs (to include items containing the likeness of “Sassy” – Shawnee Forest Country’s own Sasquatch), snacks, soft drinks, and some of the best ice cream around. […]

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