Hiking Millstone Bluff
Shawnee National Forest
Millstone Bluff is a Day-Use only site meaning that it is only open from dawn until dusk. No camping is allowed in this area.
Millstone Bluff, located in the southern Illinois Shawnee National Forest is an Archaeological Research Area listed on the Natural Registry of Historic Places. While Millstone Bluff offers a short loop trail that is appropriate for all ages, it also is host to the remains of Native American culture including ancient rock art and previous dwellings. This guide was created to help you make the most of your hiking experience at Millstone Bluff in the Shawnee National Forest. Click Here for the Official US Forest Service page on Millstone Bluff.
Hiking Millstone Bluff:
Located in Pope County, Illinois within the Hidden Springs Ranger District of the Shawnee National Forest is an area less than 500 acres known as Millstone Bluff. The area is popular among local and visiting hikers. Millstone Bluff features a short hiking trail that is less than a mile in length.
This area is an Archaeological Area and listed as a site on the National Registry of Historic Places due to the remnants of Native American culture and use that has been left behind and preserved over the years. Some of them cultural artifacts that still exist include a rock wall (also called a stone-fort), grave sites, ancient rock art and dwelling sites where Native Americans once lived. The area was predicted to be inhabited by Mississippian and Late Woodland Native American cultures. Later on in years, early American settlers used the bluff area as a Millstone quarry. Some of the early settlement operations are also present including what is believed to be a structure that might had held dynamite at one time.
Millstone Bluff is appropriate for young children who are being closely supervised by responsible adults. There is plenty of signage along the trails to educate visitors on what they are seeing in relation to historical Native American and early settler inhabitants of the area.
Hiking Millstone Bluff:
Getting to Millstone Bluff is very easy! Please use this link to access the Google Maps directions feature to take you to Millstone Bluff. You can also find the area on the Shawnee National Forest map embedded below. All of the roads to get to Millstone Bluff are paved highways. The lane that takes you to the parking lot is gravel and sometimes is known to washing out during heavy rains. Potholes may be present on the lane. There is adequate parking available at Millstone Bluff. There is a vault-styled rest room at this site as well. There is no potable water at this site or any creeks efficient for water filtration. This site is a day-use only site meaning you can visit from dawn until dusk but you may not visit during the night time hours. There is no camping at Millstone Bluff.
Millstone Bluff is a hiker only trail. Motorized vehicles, bicycles and/or horses/mules are not allowed on the trail. The trail itself is mainly made up of gravel, some pavement and dirt. The beginning goes up hill and there are benches for hikers to rest at. Please stay on the trail at all times to help preserve the ancient Native American cultural artifacts that are present.
There are no trash services at Millstone Bluff. Please pack out what you pack in and it would be appreciated if you help clean up any loose trash that you might find.
Millstone Bluff, Shawnee National Forest, Illinois
Help Us Preserve
Millstone Bluff is a popularly used trail. The Native American artifacts that are present are starting to diminish. Once these artifacts are gone, they are gone forever and that history will no longer be seen by generations of the future.
You can help preserve Millstone Bluff by staying on the trail at all times. Please do not touch or dig around any of the historical items. It is important to note that digging or collection of any kind at Millstone Bluff is prohibited and against the law. If you ever witness collection or digging activities, please report these activities using the Tips Line image below. If you find trash on the trail, please help us keep the area clean by picking up the trash. I make it a habit to pack a trash bag with me on all my hikes. I didn’t put the litter there but I feel great when I am able to take the litter out of the forest. If you do pick up trash, please post a photo of it using hashtag #LoveMyShawnee on the Official Hiking with Shawn Facebook page and I will share it on the page timeline.
It is important to note on the vandalism of the past. Most of the graves at Millstone Bluff are empty because of grave robbing activities in the past. Could you imagine grave robbing occurring at your local cemetery? How about to the graves of your family and friends? In previous centuries, humans were a lot more destructive about these special places – nowadays, we can work together to help conserve and preserve these areas. Will you help us protect and preserve Millstone Bluff?
Hiking Millstone Bluff:
There are hazardous conditions present at Millstone Bluff. Dangerous cliffs and bluffs are present and those who walk the edges of them risk falling down from very high distances. Falling from these cliffs and bluffs could result in significant injuries and even death. Cell phone signal is limited and emergency service response can be delayed by several hours. You can prevent fall hazards by keeping a safe distance between yourself and the edge of cliffs and bluffs. While appropriate for people of ages, the trail can be rugged in terms of walking uphill especially for people who are not used to that kind of fitness level. It is advisable that you bring plenty of drinking water and a snack to help replenish your energy while hiking at Millstone Bluff. There are no drinking water solutions anywhere on or near this trail. This trail is safe for young children as long as they are being closely supervised by responsible adults. Please keep all pets on leashes if you plan to bring them to this trail.
Dead snags, poison ivy and venomous snakes are present along this trail. You can avoid these risks by understanding what these risks look like and by watching each step you take. Stay on the trail at all times to help avoid these hazards.
It is advisable that you wear appropriate hiking clothing when visiting Millstone Bluff as well as comfortable hiking shoes or boots. This area is known to have ticks and mosquitoes during the spring, summer and falls seasons so it is advisable to wear a hat and use anti-tick and anti-insect solutions on yourself and your gear to prevent the allocation of diseases. Bring plenty of water and snack to help replenish energy that you might lose while hiking this area. It is recommended that you bring trekking poles to help balance yourself on the trail during your hike.
Thank you for taking the time to read my article about Millstone Bluff. I hope you have enjoyed this article. Please help support my efforts of writing this article by sharing it with others, especially on social media. You can also support me by becoming a Patreon Supporter for a very low monthly cost or by purchasing official gear from my Merchandise Shop. Please subscribe to Hiking with Shawn on YouTube and follow my other social pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Thanks again for visiting my blog and until next time, I’ll see you on the trail!
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.