Hiking with Shawn’s Trail Guide Series:
Millstone Bluff is a day-use recreational site within the Shawnee National Forest located near Simpson in southern Illinois. This site is fairly easy to navigate and hike and is appropriate for younger users and families. This site has Native American rock art, former Native American settlement and plenty of hidden gems around it. While hiking off trail once at Millstone Bluff, we found an active spring. There are signs of caves, old settlement sites and even a gravestone around the Millstone Bluff site.
Millstone Bluff is a recreational area managed by the US Forest Service. It is considered an archaeological site and collections, digging and harvesting is illegal in this area. The trail is ¾ miles long and a loop. There are some hills, stairs and uneven surfaces. Please watch your step as some areas of the trail can be extremely slippery and hazardous to your safety. Venomous snakes and poison ivy occur at this location.
Directions and Stuff!
From Vienna, Illinois – Take Highway 146 east to Highway 147, go north east on Hwy 147, 11 miles to the Millstone Bluff entrance road. Turn left onto the entrance road and proceed to the trailhead.
The road to the trailhead is gravel and contains some potholes so please drive slowly. Most vehicles should be able to drive to this location. The parking lot is large and there is a vault toilet on site. This trail is for hikers only. QR-code features and signage is present all over the trail to explain what you are seeing.
The trail is a loop and really easy to follow. No explanation needed.
What You’ll See!
From the start of the trail, if you have a smartphone with reception, I recommend doing the QR-code sign. It will take you to a cool little website with audio and visual information about the area and its history. You should also read the signage for more information about the area. There is even a millstone present like the ones that the material in the quarry was mined for. The quarry can be seen from the parking area and you’ll notice the blasting marks left behind.
As you start up the trail, you’ll want to start counter-clockwise. You’ll see a stonefort, cemetery and petroglyphs along the trail. All of this was left behind from Native Americans that once inhabited the area. Around the area there are even more hidden gems including caves, civil war gravestones, springs and structures.
Tips for the Trail!
- Use caution when the area is wet – dangerous conditions are present!
- Venomous copperheads and poison ivy plants are present.
- There is no trash service here – pack out what you pack in.
- Bring plenty to drink and a snack. Wear proper footwear and watch your step!
- Do not collect, dig, harvest, carve or destroy anything in this area.
- Stay on the designated trail to avoid hazardous conditions.
- Prepare for some hill conditions at the start.
Watch the videos for this trail!
Below is a recent video that we filmed while enjoying this area.
One last thing!
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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.