10 Giant City
State Park Activities
Spring is near and so are the Giant City State Park activities that are worth checking out. With gas on the rise, finding cheaper or even free activities is critical. Luckily for us in southern Illinois and our visitors looking for a closer inexpensive vacation can enjoy the fruits of the Giant City State Park activities that await us. If you haven’t been to Giant City yet, you’re definitely missing out. And if you have been to Giant City, keep reading because you might see a cool activity that you haven’t done yet.
Giant City State Park Activities for Nature Lovers
Are you a nature lover looking for fun nature activities? Well, the following Giant City State Park activities covers all sorts of fun for the lovers in mind.
Giant City State Park is full of wildflower spots. Look for the bigger trees along the roadways and you’ll see daffodils blooming. Some of the best spots in the park that I found daffodils and other wildflowers are around the Visitor Center on South Church Road and down the gravel road past Indian Creek and the Youth Camping area. You might also check out the Trillium Trail which is a nature preserve with rare flora and plants along it. But please make sure you stay on the designated trail at all times to help preserve the precious plants and flowers within it.
There are several areas around the park where you can see butterflies. The park is good about keeping areas well situated for butterflies to enjoy. There are even a few areas that are marked as Monarch areas where you might see butterflies. One good thing about Illinois lack of budget is grass is not cut as much as it used to be. This is actually better for butterflies and pollinator habitat. So, check out the areas with taller grass to look for these beauties.
The Arrowwood Self-Interpretive Trail next to the Visitor Center is a great little loop hike that is easy for all levels of hikers. There are signs around the trail that explain what trees and plants people are seeing. This is a great learning experience for families. If you’re limited to mobility, check out the Post Oak Trail which is now ADA-compliant and suitable for handicap/wheelchair access. There are “forest bathing” signage available along the trail.
Giant City State Park Activities for Adventurers
Giant City State Park is filled with activities for outdoor recreation as well. In fact, it is probably one of the best state parks in the southern Illinois region when it comes to outdoor recreation. Let’s check out some of these great Giant City State Park activities now.
Hiking and Backpacking
There are quite a few hiking trails within Giant City State Park. The park should be noted for having a trail for everyone including those in a wheelchair. There are easy trails appropriate for all ages and hiking abilities such as Indian Creek and Nature Trail. There are trails made for the more moderately difficult adventurers such as Devil’s Stand Table and Trillium. There is a trail to an ancient Native American Structure called Stonefort. There is an ADA-compliant and forest bathing trail called Post Oak. And for the backpackers, the 12-mile Red Cedar Loop offers a moderately rugged hike with a primitive campground in the middle.
Giant City State Park is one of my favorite locations to road biking. Traffic within the park seems to move slower and carefully as hikers and riders are common in this area. There are many roads within the parks which plenty of forest and natural beauty to see. There are numerous areas to stop and rest and sit down at picnic tables. And you can do easier roads or if you’re looking for a challenge, there are hillier routes. If you’re looking for an even greater hill challenge, check our South Church road going up from Makanda. We in the cycling community call that “The Wall”. If you’re into mountain biking, check out Touch of Nature Bike Trails right down the road from Giant City State Park.
There is also a 12-mile equestrian trail within Giant City State Park. This trail is often praised by the horseback riding community. I’ve hiked some of the trail and I have to say there is a lot of beautiful things to see along the way. There is also a Class A Equestrian Campground available to riders from May 1 to October 31. Reservations can be made online or through a self-register system at the campground. Giant City also has a nice Stable location with a lot of great services such as guided horseback riding and rental. Giant City State Park is definitely a friendly place for the equestrian community.
Giant City State Park Activities for Vacationers
The great thing about Giant City State Park activities is the fact that the park has enough things within it to make it a full vacationing experience.
Giant City Lodge & Cabins
Giant City Lodge offer a great dining and sightseeing experience. The lodge cooks home cooked-like country style meals. The lodge has a great breakfast, lunch, and dinner and selection. However, the lodge is best known for its Fried Chicken. Many say it is the best in the southern Illinois region. There are also cabins available for rent right next to the lodge. Be sure to check out the water tower observation deck to see the beautiful southern Illinois countryside. You might even be able to spot the Bald Knob Cross to your west.
Giant City Campground
Giant City offers a very nice, hosted Class A campground. There are 85 sites available within the campground. The sites include electric/water/sewer sites as well as walk in camp sites. The tent area is situated away from the electrical camping area. You can also access Red Cedar Trail from the tent area within the campground. A parking permit is required and can be obtained at the Visitor Center for Red Cedar Trail use overnight. The campground offers a shower house as well as restrooms.
Giant City State Park Activities for Shoppers
While visiting or vacationing at Giant City State Park, you might want to go shopping for souvenirs and unique items. Luckily Giant City State Park activities including shopping opportunities as well.
Giant City Visitor Center
Check out the Giant City Visitor Center at the entrance of the park when traveling on Giant City Road from the Carbondale area. Not only will the awesome and friendly workers help you find stuff in the park, but they also offer merchandise that you can buy. All of the proceeds go to Friends of Giant City State Park which then put the money back into activities within the park. And be sure to have a look around the center to see art, photography, interpretation, and displays of what you might see and learn about within Giant City State Park.
For a very unique experience, head over to the closest town near the state park, Makanda. Makanda is home to its famous boardwalk. The boardwalk offers various stores that sell various things from sweets to rocks and more. Be sure to check out events that occur in Makanda every year such as the famous Vulture Fest and of course the lovely Makanda Mushroom Festival. For such a tiny little village, there is really a lot to do in Makanda. You’ll notice when you arrive that it may feel like you’re in 1969 and that is what makes this little community one of the most awesome towns in southern Illinois.
And there you have it, 10 Giant City State Park activities to do this spring and summer! And while some of the park closes down during the winter, there is still a lot to do during those off seasons as well. Be sure to check out Giant City’s annual events at the Visitor Center because they’re always putting something on that is appropriate for the whole family. You might even see Hiking with Shawn at Giant City State Park on National Get Outside Day. Thanks for reading this article and please share it with someone else who might enjoy it.
Now over to you my friend – what is your favorite Giant City State Park activities to do when you visit the park? Are there any activities listed above that you didn’t know about?
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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!