5 Less Populated Areas

of the Shawnee


Viewing Fall Colors

This article is a Patreon Exclusive meaning it was created exclusively for Patreon members of Hiking with Shawn and will not be released to the public outside of Patreon subscribers. The Shawnee National Forest is a beautiful location for viewing fall colors because of its rolling hills and different trees throughout the area. But finding places with little people these days can be difficult. In this guide, we will take a look at 5 Less Populated Areas of the Shawnee National Forest for Viewing Fall Colors.


#1 – Murray Bluff

This quiet spot is located on Tom Dick Hill Road near Stonefort. There is enough parking space for a couple of vehicles. Take the trail on the south side of the road up to the bluff. The hill up to the bluff is steep and will be challenging if wet. It is defiantly a gut buster. Once you’re at the bluff, you can make your way up it to see the overlook that is provides. This would make an excellent scenic overlook to view fall colors in the Shawnee National Forest.


#2 – Pine Hills Road

Pine Hills Road located at the LaRue Pine Hills area provides various options to viewing fall colors in the Shawnee National Forest as well as the Big Muddy River and Mississippi River bottomlands. The road has several pull offs with adequate parking available at each of them. These pull offs provide excellent areas to view the fall colors of southern Illinois. These areas are also very easy to get to. Everyone else is usually at Inspiration Point while you will have most of these areas to yourself.


#3 – Stoneface Overlook

As much as I have been to Stoneface, located near Equality, I have never seen an enormous amount of people present there. If you hike the trail up to Stoneface, go past the rock face for about an eighth of a mile until you reach the large power line right-of-way. This area provides for an ultimate fall color viewing experience. In fact, it is one of my favorite overlooks to see practically all seasons of the Shawnee National Forest. This one requires some hiking up hill.


#4 – Giant City Shelter 1

This area is mainly used by rock climbers, located in Giant City State Park, Shelter 1 is a less visited area with a nice bluff with a view. Park in the parking lot and find the trail on the right side of the bluff if the shelter is directly behind you. Make your up but be careful, it is steep and can be a challenge to get up to the top of this bluff. Once you are at the top, you can enjoy a nice scenic overlook of the Shawnee National Forest and the state park area.


#5 – Rocky Top

Rocky Top is a scenic overlook located in the One Horse Gap area that is mainly used by horseback riders and the occasional hiker. This area isn’t usually populated by visitors. The overlook is easy to get to if you park along the forest service road where the trail for Rocky Top starts. This scenic overlook will give you a wonderful view of fall colors in the Shawnee National Forest.


BONUS OVERLOOK: Christmas Star Overlook

If you’re looking for a challenging hike with a reward of a scenic overlook to view fall colors of the Shawnee National Forest, look no further than Garden of the Gods Wilderness area from Herod. Park at the trailhead, cross the road and head into the wilderness, after hiking about 3 or 4 miles, you will start to find overlooks to your right. The big one has a Christmas Star nailed up on a cedar tree. These overlooks will let you see fall colors of the entire wilderness area and are among my favorite ones to visit. This area is hilly and rugged.


As always, please make sure you practice safety first when visiting these places. Leave with good memories, not bad injuries. Thanks for checking out my article and don’t worry, there will be more Patreon articles to come!

One last thing!

Filming the videos, taking the photos, editing everything and writing this article takes time and it’s all provided for free. Consider making a small monthly contribution to Hiking with Shawn by becoming an official Patreon supporter on Hiking with Shawn! You can also support us by purchasing official merch from the Hiking with Shawn online store. Lastly, please share this article and our videos and follow us on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumbler for more free guides, videos, photos, contests and more!

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 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.

Subscribe Today!

Get Your FREE Gift Now!

Subscribe to the official Hiking with Shawn Newsletter and get a free gift! The newsletter is free, sent once a month, and contains exclusive articles, tips, offers, contests, and upcomig events that you won't find anywhere else. You can unsubscribe anytime with ease. Subscribe now (for a limited time only) and get my free 70+ page 35 Hiking Trails of Southern Illinois Guide. This PDF will be sent to your email right after you subscribe (check your junkmail just in case and add me as a contact). I hope to see you on the mailing list!

Thanks for subscribing! Go check your email!