Ferne Clyffe State Park


A view into Southern Illinois

State Parks

Ferne Clyffe State Park, located near Goreville, Illinois minutes away from the Interstate 24 exit at Goreville/Tunnel Hill offers a unique experience for the outdoor enthusiasts in everyone. From waterfalls to hiking trails for all ages and conditions, this Illinois State Park has it all and then some!

Ferne Clyffe State Park


Visitor Recreational Activities









Ferne Clyffe State Park is an Illinois State Park on nearly 2,500 acres of mainly forested land. The State of Illinois acquired the land in 1949 from Emma Rebman, a former school teacher and highly regarded Illinois school superintendent. Mrs. Rebman preserved the area to look as natural as it could be and once the state took it over, the promise of keeping the area natural has continued to exist decades thereafter. There are many different types of outdoor recreational activities available at Ferne State Park including hiking, backpacking, camping, horseback riding, cycling, hunting, fishing and even waterfall chasing. Ferne Clyffe State Park can be found in Johnson County near Goreville, Illinois and it only minutes away from the Interstate 24 Goreville/Tunnel Hill exit.

Ferne Clyffe State Park offers various Historical Sites within its perimeter including signs of formal settlement, old homestead along the trails and even a trail that educates visitors about Emma Rebman. The Boy Scout Trail located within the park depicts the history of the road that used to connect the Village of Goreville to the park. The road was closed in the 1970’s by the Department of Conservation for the sake of safety and ecology, an event that resulted in major protests, lawsuits and court battles. The history of this area strongly revolves around Emma Rebman and what she meant to the local community and the region of Southern Illinois in general.

The Hiking Trails within Ferne Clyffe State Park are mainly what the area is visited for. There are nearly 20 different trails that are available for almost any type of hiker including those with handicap needs. There are short trails with big things to see and longer trails for those who wish to experience a more wilderness-like hike. This park has some of the best scenic overlooks among all state parks in southern Illinois. There is camping available for RV/camper hookups, equestrians and even backpackers. The River to River Trail passes through this state park. While there is no cycling trails, the paved roads within the park offer a great road biking experience.

Ferne Clyffe State Park is Waterfall Galore when conditions are right. Almost every trail within the state park will include several waterfalls. The Big Rocky Hollow Trail is probably the most popular trail among waterfall chasers as this 0.75-mile trail offers a 100-foot tall waterfall at its end. There are several creeks within the park that feeds most of the waterfalls. Waterfall chasing is best done after snow-melt during the winter months or right after a heavy rainfall has occurred within the area. Please note that when conditions are wet at Ferne Clyffe State Park, it can be dangerous in many areas – always put safety first before anything else when visiting this state park.

There are a lot of Scenic Activities within Ferne Clyffe State Park. Visitors can expect to see a wide ranger of wildlife in the park including various birds, deer, coyotes, bob cats, squirrels and even snakes. There are numerous overlooks along the Blackjack Oak trail that offers astounding views of the Shawnee Forest County and southern Illinois. There is a pond where visitors can fish from the bank at – boats and swimming is prohibited in the pond. There are numerous hiking trails. Even if you don’t want to get out of your car, this state park offers a very scenic drives with some beautiful sights to see.

Putting Ferne Clyffe State Park on your Bucket List is ideal. This is one Illinois State Park that you do not want to miss out on experiencing for yourself.  

Ferne Clyffe State Park


Useful Visitor Information

Driving Directions

Driving from…

All road are paved to reach the park!

Google Map

Ferne Clyffe State Park

Main Entrance to the Park

Rules & Tips

When visiting Ferne Clyffe State Park, it is important to follow the rules…

  • It appears that the gate is closed to the main road to the trails during snow and ice conditions.
  • Shelters are available by parties wishing to use them.
  • Pets are allowed as long as they are kept on a leash.
  • No disposable food and/or drink containers are allowed on official day use hiking trails.
  • Please stay on the trail at all times to help preserve the forest and natural areas around you.
  • Camping is available at the state park.
  • Rock climbing can only be performed at authorized climbing areas.
  • Hunting is allowed at this state park during hunting season. 
  • Horseback riding is allowed at this state park.
  • Mountain biking trails are not available at Ferne Clyffe State Park, sadly. However, road biking is allowed.
  • Speed limits through the park are posted and strictly enforced.

To make the best of your visit to Ferne Clyffe State Park, it is recommended that you…

  • Bring the right gear for the activity you wish to pursue. For example, if hiking, bring comfortable outdoor hiking apparel and footwear, bug spray, plenty of water, snacks and gear that will make hiking and/or backpacking easier.
  • Venomous snakes are present at this state park. Avoid dangerous actions by these snakes by staying on trail, watching where you are hiking and giving wildlife plenty of room to flee if you encounter these creatures. Killing wildlife (outside of hunting and fishing) at this park is highly illegal.
  • Please share the trails. If you are hiking and you encounter a horseback rider, yield to the rider, speaking clearly to the rider so that the horse realizes you are a friendly human.
  • Visit the community of Tunnel Hill located minutes away from the state park to access the 45-mile Tunnel Hill State Rail-to-Trail, popular among cyclists and walkers.
  • Be sure to stop by the Village of Goreville located a few minutes north of the park. There are multiple gas stations, dollar stores and Wiffle Boy’s Pizza offers some of the best pizza around. A now favorite place to eat of Hiking with Shawn!
  • Always put safety first when exploring the park as dangerous areas exist within the park. Leave with memories, not injuries.

To have an enjoyable visit to Ferne Clyffe State Park, it is recommended that you follow the rules and tip suggestions listed above.

Ferne Clyffe State Park



Thanks for checking out my article on Ferne Clyffe State Park. This is the second article on a series of southern Illinois State Parks that I am creating, the first one is all about Giant City State Park and you can read it here. Please share this article to help support me for creating it, especially on your favorite social media pages and profiles. Be sure to follow me on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more awesome articles, videos, photos and more. Consider becoming a member of my Patreon Page to support my video posting efforts or buy something from my Merch Shop. In the next article, we’ll discuss Dixon Springs State Park. Until next time, I’ll see you on the trail!

Shawn J. Gossman

Shawn J. Gossman


Shawn is the founder and host of the YouTube Channel, Hiking with Shawn as well as Hiking with Shawn LLC. Shawn hikes, backpacks and visits various forested areas in the Shawnee National Forest, local state parks and other areas promoting outdoor recreational activities to obtain video to show to locals and non-locals alike. Please support Shawn’s efforts by sharing this post and leaving a comment below.

Subscribe Today!

Get Your FREE Gift Now!

Subscribe to the official Hiking with Shawn Newsletter and get a free gift! The newsletter is free, sent once a month, and contains exclusive articles, tips, offers, contests, and upcomig events that you won't find anywhere else. You can unsubscribe anytime with ease. Subscribe now (for a limited time only) and get my free 70+ page 35 Hiking Trails of Southern Illinois Guide. This PDF will be sent to your email right after you subscribe (check your junkmail just in case and add me as a contact). I hope to see you on the mailing list!

Thanks for subscribing! Go check your email!