What’s the

Best Part


Shawnee National Forest?

Do you want to know what the best part of Shawnee National Forest is?

It depends on what type of outdoor activities you’re into. The Shawnee National Forest has something for everyone.

That’s what makes southern Illinois and the forest so unique.

There is plenty of areas for hiking. There are plenty of places for biking. Horseback riding opportunities are all across the forest. And if you’re a kayaker, we have tons of spots for you, too. But there’s even more than that!

Camping… Climbing… Bouldering… Geocaching… Waterfall chasing… Night sky photography…

It doesn’t matter what activity you’re into. The part of Shawnee National Forest is waiting for you to explore and enjoy.

The Best Part of Shawnee National Forest for…

Let’s look at some of the best parts of the Shawnee National Forest for different user activity groups.


For Easy Day Hiking

Head to Garden of the Gods Observation Trail for a short loop hike that offers some of the best rock formations and views in the Shawnee National Forest.


For Moderate Day Hiking

Check out Little Grand Canyon for a moderately difficult hiking loop trail that offers scenic overlooks, rolling hills, waterfalls, and plenty of bluffage.

Best Part of Shawnee National Forest

For Easy Overnight Backpacking

Garden of the Gods Indian Point is one of the best beginner or easier areas to enjoy an overnight backpacking trip.


For a Challenging Overnight Backpacking Trip

Head to Red Cedar Trail at Giant City State Park for a 12-mile loop with a campground in the middle for a more challenging overnight hiking experience.


For a Long Thru-Hike

Hike the nearly 160-mile River to River Trail from start to finish to add your name to a list of people who have successfully hiked the whole trail.


For a Hiking Challenge

Take the Shawnee Challenge and hike at many of the best part of Shawnee National Forest right from the app on your smartphone.


For a Road Biking Adventure

Head over to Giant City State Park and enjoy the paved roads that the park has to offer. There are plenty of hills and even the challenging Wall in Makanda if you have what it takes.


For a Fun Car-Free Cycling Trip

Go ride sections (or all) of the 50+ mile Tunnel Hill State Trail rail trail, which is open only for cyclists and runners/hikers.


For an Awesome Mountain Biking Experience

Visit Dixon Springs State Park and ride the nearly 20 miles of designated mountain bike trail in the Shawnee National Forest.


For an Equestrian Adventure

Take a guided ride with Bear Brand Campground through some of the best horse trails in the Shawnee National Forest.


For a Bouldering Adventure

Head over to Holy Boulders to check out some of the best bouldering that southern Illinois offers.


For Rock Climbing

Visit the World Famous Jackson Falls to experience rock climbing like no other spot in southern Illinois and the Shawnee National Forest.


For Geocaching Adventures

The Shawnee National Forest and southern Illinois are full of different areas to enjoy geocaching adventures.


For Waterfall Chasing

Ferne Clyffe State Park is an excellent area to chase waterfalls after a few days of heavy rain, whether in the park or at its remote sites.


For Jeeping

Enjoy a cruise along Pine Hills Road and take advantage of all the area’s levee roads.


For Night Sky Viewing

Reserve a cabin at Rim Rock’s Dogwood Cabins and talk to Steve about where you should view the best night sky areas.


And for all the rest of the best part of Shawnee National Forest

Go check out my free trail guides and 100 things to do in the Shawnee National Forest.


Thanks for reading my article about the best part of Shawnee National Forest. Please give it a share if you’ve enjoyed it. For more information and tips, subscribe to my monthly newsletter, which is delivered to your inbox.

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Thanks again for checking out another one of my articles and until next time, I’ll see you on the trail!

Shawn Gossman

Shawn Gossman

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. Click here to learn more about Shawn Gossman

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