Hiking with Shawn’s



Hiking Trails

Everyone is always asking me what my favorite hiking trail are.

I really don’t have one favorite. I have a few. So, I figured I might as well create an article about it so that you have some ideas of where you might want to start. You might already know some or all of these trails. If you do, nice! If you don’t, I suggest you check them out.

Make sure you’re putting safety first, as many of these trails can be hazardous due to wildlife, rugged terrain, and conditions during different seasons.

I hope you enjoy my favorite hiking trail list and encourage you to try them out if you haven’t already.

Shawn’s Favorite Hiking Trails #1: Trail 049

Trail 049 is special to me.

It was my first rugged adventure trail in the Shawnee National Forest. It’s a ten-mile loop. It starts and finishes at East Trigg Trailhead, a part of the River to River Trail. It has everything you want in a longer adventurous hiking trail. There are high bluffs, waterfalls, Millstone Lake, Jackson Falls, and many different types of forests, from hardwoods to pine groves.

It has everything you’d want to experience in a National Forest.

Check out my Trail 049 free guide, and you’ll see why it’s one of my favorite hiking trails.

Favorite Hiking Trails

Shawn’s Favorite Trail #2: Cache River State Natural Area

This is on my list of favorite hiking trails because it’s the trail system I made my first video on for Hiking with Shawn.

I started at Heron Pond, hiked into Little Black Slough and Boss Island, and went to Wildcat Bluff. After that, I hiked back. It is an out-and-back with a loop mixed in. It’s right under eight miles. It has some rolling hills and creek crossings, and the biting bugs are nasty in the summer months. If there is flooding, many of the trails will be underwater.

There is a lot to see there. You’ll see bogs and swamps, a little bluffage, an old cabin, overlooks, and beautiful wetland forests.

I’ve written an extensive guide for this area that you can check out for free.


Shawn’s Favorite Trails #3: Snake Road

Snake Road is among my favorite hiking trails for what it is.

I love snakes. I’ll put myself before a driver trying to run over a snake to protect it. I’ve done it before. I’ll do it again. I am a snake advocate. I also believe the only way to convince people that snakes are not as bad as they’ve been brainwashed to think is by educating them. So, I make many Snake Road videos to show people how they are.

Snake Road has venomous snakes like cottonmouth, copperhead, and timber rattlesnakes. There are many more non-venomous snakes present there, too. Two times a year, the Forest Service gates the road, and snakes move across without getting run over by sociopaths out to kill snakes.

Foot traffic is welcome if you don’t touch or collect anything. Not even mushrooms! The trail is a gravel forest road that is a 2.5-mile stretch of road.

Check out my free extensive guide on Snake Road for more information.


Shawn’s Favorite Trails #4: Hutchins Creek (Bald Knob Wilderness)

Hutchins Creek is my favorite creek in the Shawnee National Forest.

I love the hike from Godwin East through Bald Knob Wilderness into Hutchins Creek. It’s a strenuous hike. There are some steep hills, and it’s right under ten miles out and back. But seeing as it’s the wilderness, not many people will be there.

I put on my bathing suit in the summer, hike down there, and cool off in little pockets of cold spring-fed water in the creek. The water is crystal-clear, too.

Check out my Bald Knob Wilderness guide for more information on how to find this trail.


Shawn’s Favorite Hiking Trails #5: Red Cedar Trail

Red Cedar Trail in Giant City State Park is my favorite backpacking trail.

Red Cedar is a 12-mile loop trail with a primitive campground in the middle of it. You’ll see everything on this trail. It’s rugged, too. Don’t be fooled because it’s in a state park. It’s the most strenuous trail out there to backpack on. Bluffs, grasslands, ponds, and a diverse forest change from hardwoods to pines and everything in between.

If you go, I suggest hiking in counter-clockwise. We like to hike to the campground, stay the night, and then hike the rest back the next day. It’s a fun backpacking trip.

If you want to learn more, I’ve written an entire Red Cedar Trail Backpacking Guide.


These are my official favorite hiking trails. I hope this article inspires you to check out these trails. Maybe I’ll make another one of these posts again to list more of my favorite trails if you all are interested. If you enjoyed reading this article, subscribe to my free monthly newsletter for more like it.

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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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