Hiking with Shawn’s Trail Guide Series:
Dutchman Lake Waterfalls
Dutchman Lake is probably one of the best places to go for a quick waterfall chase in the Shawnee National Forest. When most people visit Dutchman Lake, they think it is just that, a lake but it is a whole lot more. I’ve even talked to people who live around there and never knew the amount of trails at Dutchman Lake, let alone the amount of waterfalls. Out of all the waterfalls, there are three waterfalls that I like to visit the most and those are the ones I will be writing about today! You can see where all of the waterfalls are, out at Dutchman Lake by checking out this great map.
Directions and Stuff!
If driving north on Highway 45 from Vienna, Illinois – look for the left turn at Holly Road and take it and then turn right onto Dutchman Lake Road. Drive for about 3.8 miles until you get to Fishing Hole Lane and turn left onto the gravel road. This takes you to Dutchman Lake. Drive about 1.2 miles until you start seeing the lake out your windshield. You’ll notice on your right an area for about 2-3 cars to pull off and a trail. That is the trail you want to take.
Once on the trail, take it and cross the creek shortly after. If the water is higher, it might be a challenge to cross it. The higher the water in the creek, the better the waterfalls you’re going to be chasing. After you cross the creek, continue on the trail until it forks. Stay to your left and remain on the trail closer to the lake. Continue until you reach the next creek and follow it up to your right. That will take you to your first waterfall. There are multiple layers to this waterfall, too. It is amazing. To continue seeing the next three waterfalls, simply follow the bluffage and go up the next creek.
Altogether, if you are there to see just the 3 waterfalls, expect to hike at least 3-4 miles. The hike will be fairly rugged and very slippery when wet. The hike might be a challenge when wet but the waterfalls you will see will make it worth it. If we haven’t had much rain, don’t expect the waterfalls to be that spectacular as the waterfalls of the Shawnee are very rain dependent.
What You’ll See!
There is quite a bit to see in this area. The first waterfall has multiple layers and it’s worth exploring each of those layers/levels as long as you are careful about it. The first waterfall also has some awesome bluffage around it with a hanging boulder as well. There used to be geocaches in that area so if they’re still out there, you can have fun with those as well.
The second waterfall includes a really cool deep pool and all sorts of cool bluffage and natural shelters around it. The creeks that lead up to these waterfalls are also extremely scenic and worth checking out.
The third waterfall is elegant because it stretches out like a curtain if you will. You can turn around here or if you’re adventurous, take the trail above the waterfall and make your way back that way.
Aside from these waterfalls, there are two other nice waterfalls in the area of Dutchman Lake, the River to River Trail passes through and there are tons of other trails to explore as well. And every so often there is a picnic table in the middle of the forest to enjoy a seat at.
Tips for the Trail!
- Wear proper footwear that has some grip, especially on wet rocky conditions.
- Bring plenty of water and snacks.
- Try not to hike alone and be sure to tell others where you are going.
- Stay on the official trails at all times to avoid hazards.
- Pack out what you pack in and never vandalize the natural features.
- Bring a camera, because there are some awesome views!
Watch the videos for this trail!
Below is a recent video that we filmed while enjoying the waterfalls at Dutchman Lake.
One last thing!
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Thanks for checking out this guide and please share it with others if you’d like to see more of them made!
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.