Giant City State Park


A view into Southern Illinois

State Parks

Giant City State Park, located in Makanda, Illinois minutes away from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale offers outdoor enthusiasts a glimpse into a time before technology and modern civilization rules the land. Giant City State Park also holds valuable education about how such a beautiful area was created by struggling young men during a very dark time in United State history. This State Park is truly an Illinois gem!

Giant City State Park


Visitor Recreational Activities









Giant City State Park, acquired in 1927 by the State of Illinois is a State Park of a little more than 4,000 acres of native forested public land featuring various hiking trails for all levels of fitness, historical sites and areas, educational programs, horseback riding opportunities, scenic driving and road biking opportunities and wildlife viewing activities. Giant City State Park consists of land both on Jackson and Union counties in southern Illinois nestled in the village of Makanda which is about a 15 minute drive from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

The park offers various Historical Sites including carving dating back to the 1800’s during very early settlement and timbering of the virgin forest that once stood in its place, cabins and a dining lodge built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, a reconstructed Native American stone-fort and various remnants of left-behind settlement before the area was turned into a state park.

Various Hiking Trails exist within the parking catering to all levels of fitness and ages for hiking and backpacking enthusiasts. There are easy trails under a mile in length to a harder and more rugged 12 mile backpacking trail featuring a primitive campground in the middle of the trail. There is also a more traditional tent and RV/camper campground located within the property of the park. Giant City State Park is the perfect place for beginners to start their own hiking and backpacking journey. Many people who hope to one day hike to full River to River Trail often choose Giant City’s Red Cedar Trail as a beginner backpacking practice trail.

Giant City State Park offers numerous Educational Programs developed for patrons of all ages and interest types presented at the welcome center throughout the year. These programs are usually completely free to attend. Some programs include reptile and amphibian education, holiday-specific programs, cultural historical education programs, guided hikes, nature and wildlife viewing and many more opportunities for people of all ages to learn more about nature and the state park.

There is a lot of Scenic Activities available within Giant City State Park. I personally enjoy road biking at this park more so than riding anywhere else on the road. There are enough combination of hills and loops to make cycling not only great for fitness but also very fun as well. There are numerous trails available for horseback riding and there is also a stable available within the park’s property. Many people choose to drive through the park to see scenic sights, wildlife and nature at its best. Giant City State Park is truly one of the best state parks that southern Illinois has to offer.

If you’ve not yet visited Giant City State Park, you should put this state park on the top of your list because it is worth a visit every chance you can get!

Giant City State Park


Useful Visitor Information

Driving Directions

Driving from…

All road are paved to reach the park!

Google Map

Giant City State Park

Visitor Welcome Center

Rules & Tips

When visiting Giant City State Park, it is important to follow the rules…

  • Alcoholic beverages are prohibited from consumption within the park from September to May.
  • The Lodge is open seasonally from the first Friday of February to Mid-December.
  • Shelters must be reserved 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 only allowed at Giant City Campground and Red Cedar Primitive Campground. There are also cabins available.
  • Rock climbing can only be performed at authorized climbing areas.
  • Metal Detecting is allowed as long as a Metal Detecting Permit is obtained.
  • 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 Giant City, sadly. However, road biking is allowed.
  • Speed limits through the park are posted and strictly enforced.
  • Visit the welcome center for more information, maps and souvenirs.

To make the best of your visit to Giant City 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.
  • Visit the welcome center for important information, history and educational programs, maps and souvenirs that you might wish to purchase. Feel free to tell them that Hiking with Shawn sent you if I indeed helped you find this state park.
  • 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 nearby Makanda to meet some of the nicest people in southern Illinois. There are numerous stores along the Makanda boardwalk that you will likely enjoy as well.
  • During open seasons, visit the Giant City Lodge for what is said to be some of the best Fried Chicken and home-style cooking in the region. The lodge is historic and was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
  • 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 Giant City State Park, it is recommended that you follow the rules and tip suggestions listed above.

Giant City State Park



Thanks for checking out my article on Giant City State Park. This is the first article on a series of southern Illinois State Parks that I am creating. 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 Ferne Clyffe 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.

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