Amazing Shawnee National Forest
Waterfalls to Visit
There are some amazing waterfalls in the Shawnee National Forest. In fact, there are a lot more waterfalls that I am mentioning in this article. But rather than write a book, I figured you’d like a quicker Top 10 Guide for finding amazing Shawnee National Forest waterfalls in 2022 and beyond. So, in this article, I’ll be providing you 10 great waterfalls within the Shawnee that you should put on your list to check out today. And as a bonus, I will rate them by difficulty!
Amazing Shawnee National Forest Waterfalls that are easy to get to!
Let’s look at a couple easy to get to waterfalls in the Shawnee National Forest, first. These waterfalls are so easy to get to that they’re a good choice for the whole family, kids and seniors included.
Burden Falls Upper Falls
The upper falls of Burden Falls are some of the most amazing Shawnee National Forest waterfalls that I’ve seen. They’re really easy to access! I’ve seen these waterfalls frozen, running well, and running so much that you couldn’t tell there were multiple waterfalls. There are a few of them up top that are safe to watch without even really leaving the parking lot. The main waterfall is a little harder to get to. Be sure to stay on the safe side of the safety cable.
For more information about the Upper Falls at Burden Falls and how to get there, check out my Burden Falls Wilderness Guide.
Bork Falls or Hippie Hollow is actually a part of Ferne Clyffe State Park, but it is located on a remote portion of the park’s boundary. It isn’t even connected to the main part of the park. This waterfall is easy to access and is a very large waterfall at that. There is a large pool that it dumps into and there is a large natural shelter that sits next to it. This waterfall is actually right on the River-to-River Trail, too. This is another great trail for the whole family, young to older.
For more information and directions to this waterfall, see my Ferne Clyffe State Park Guide.
Ferne Clyffe State Park
Within the main park’s boundary is an area where you can access 4 different hiking trails that are short enough to provide a full day of family fun. There are even a few picnic areas and shelters nearby in case you want to spend the whole day at the park. The 4 trails include Big Rocky Hollow, Rebman Trail, Hawk’s Cave, and the Boy Scout Trail. Each of these 4 trails are right one and another and each of them lead to waterfalls of all shapes and sizes. It is best to visit these trails after a few days of good rain in order to see them at their best.
For more information and directions to Ferne Clyffe, see my Guide for this State Park.
Giant City State Park has a wonderful trail called the Stoneface Trail. This trail takes you up on top of a bluff with a great view. There are remnants of an ancient Native American structure called a Stonefort up there as well. But as you travel up hill to get to the top of the bluff, to your left is a beautiful cascading waterfall. While seeing the waterfall from the ground is easy for everyone, climbing to the top of this trail might prove to be a challenge for some people – do keep that in mind.
For more information and how to get to this waterfall, check out my Giant City State Park Guide.
Amazing Shawnee National Forest Waterfalls that are harder to get to!
Some of the more amazing Shawnee National Forest waterfalls are a littler harder to get to. These trails are often described as moderately difficult. While many younger hikers can do okay on them, it is good to take these types of trails a little bit more seriously than you would the easier ones.
Jackson Falls is located in a very rural and remote portion of Pope County. It is the climbing mecca of southern Illinois. Seeing rock climbers from all over the world at Jackson Falls isn’t anything unusual. During the wetter seasons though, it is also a great place to chase waterfalls. There are several different nice size waterfalls that can be seen from the top and the bottom as well if you’re up for a scramble down the rocks to see them. There is a lot to see at Jackson Falls, too!
For more information and directions on how to get to this awesome place, see my Jackson Falls Hiking Guide.
Little Grand Canyon
Little Grand Canyon is a great waterfall area because waterfalls are a part of the actual trail. Yes, you heard that right. Part of the trail are waterfalls, and you have to walk down them to get to the bottom of the canyon. When wet, this trail can offer wonderful waterfall sights, but you should know that it can be very dangerous as well. Accidents have occurred here. Don’t be a statistic, make sure you’re always putting safety first.
Check out my Little Grand Canyon Guide for more information and directions how to get there.
The Indian Falls area is also often called Pakentuck and its Shawnee National Forest land that butts up against Camp Ondessonk land in rural Johnson County. There are three amazing Shawnee National Forest waterfalls to see at this location. There is Indian Falls, Crevice Falls, and Little Cedar Falls. While there is a trail to get to these waterfalls, the trail is often muddy, rugged, and not as maintained.
Check out the Pakentuck Trail Guide for information about this area and how you can visit it.
Cedar Wonders can be accessed from the Gum Springs Trailhead. This area is a lot like Pakentuck above. The trails are official but rarely maintained outside of equestrian folks who help keep the trails nice. There are several waterfalls, cascades, and even a tiny natural arch that you’ll enjoy seeing. This area is a little bit hillier and if its wet, because of the horse use there, you can expect it to be very muddy. You’ll have to cross creeks to hike out in this area, too!
For directions and more information about this area, check out my Cedar Creek Wonders Guide.
Amazing Shawnee National Forest Waterfalls that are difficult to reach!
The harder to reach waterfalls are always some of the most amazing Shawnee National Forest waterfalls simply because they are rarely visited by others. They’re just too hard to get to for many people. These waterfalls are often a little bit more dangerous to reach as well, so you should use extreme caution when visiting them.
Rocky Comfort Waterfalls
These waterfalls will require a property boundary map or app to keep you on public land. I use OnXHunt which costs money (not sponsored) but works well. Parking is on the side of the road. There are no signs or visual trails, and you have to carefully climb down into the canyon in order to see the waterfalls at their best possible appearance. There are several smaller waterfalls down in this area but there are two main ones. One is on the North side, and another is on the South side.
Check out my recent video of Rocky Comfort waterfalls and there is a map link on the description.
Jackson Hole is probably my favorite waterfall to visit when everything is frozen. There is a main waterfall there as well as a smaller cascading fall, too. The road to the trail is hard to get down. The path down to the base of the falls is also hard to get down. This is a harder waterfall hike and isn’t for everyone but if you’re adventurous at all, you might discover that this is a trail for you.
Check out my Jackson Hole Trail Guide for more information and directions to this trail.
And there you have it – 10 Amazing Shawnee National Forest waterfalls for all types of hikers to be able to visit. There are plenty of other waterfalls all over the Shawnee National Forest and our state parks as well. You can check out my YouTube Channel to find videos of these waterfalls. I want to thank you for taking the time to check out this article. Please remember to practice safety when adventuring in the Shawnee. Consider giving this article a share to help support me for providing it to you at no cost.
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Founder, Hiking with Shawn
Howdy folks! My name is Shawn Gossman and I founded Hiking with Shawn. I’m an avid hiker, cyclist and outdoorsman here in the Shawnee National Forest. I was born and raised in Southern Illinois and never want to leave. I hope you enjoy my website and I encourage you to interact with me!