Hiking with Shawn’s Trail Guide Series:
Pounds Hollow Recreation Area
Pounds Hollow Recreational Area is a great spot to visit in the Shawnee National Forest because of the many things to do in the area. Aside from the obvious hiking activities, there are also camping sites (tent and electric), a beach and a lake for fishing in (shore only). This recreational area is connected to the Rim Rock Recreational Area allowing you to extend your hike if you’d want to.
This particular guide will cover the various activities on the Pounds Hollow side.
Directions and Stuff!
Pounds Hollow is very easy to reach and doesn’t require any special type of vehicle to get there. From Harrisburg, Illinois – Take Highway 34/145 south 6 miles, then continue on Highway 34 south for 9 miles. Turn east onto Karbers Ridge Road and go 9 miles to the recreation area entrance.
This area is well marked and on Google Maps in case you get lost. You should have no issues finding the area.
Once you turn into the Rec area, the first left turn will take you into the electric sites of the campground in case you have an RV or camper. The first right turn will take you to the beach unless it is closed for the season, then the gate will be closed but foot traffic is always welcome. The second right turn (that is past the next gate) will lead you into the tent (non-electric) sites of the campground. If the beach road is gated, most people park along the road there as long as they don’t block traffic.
What You’ll See!
There are trails all around Pounds Hollow. Some are easy hiker only trails while others are more scenic hiker/horseback riding trails. There is a neat natural arch across the lake and all sorts of interesting bluffage that way too. Check out this map to see what all hiking trails are available.
During the summer months, you can enjoy the beach which isn’t often very crowded compared to other local beaches in the area. Glass and pets are NOT allowed on the beach. A Forest Service technician usually stays around the beach when it is open. Rules will be enforced. There are buoys in the water of the beach to keep swimmers away from the deeper end. The beach includes a picnic shelter, fishing decks, benches and restrooms with running water. There are no concession stands at the beach and access is free at this time. The lake access road is open from March 1 to November 1. There is no lifeguard service at the beach – use at your own risk.
The campground is very nice. There are a few vault toilets around each loop of the campground. There is a loop for electric sites as well as non-electric tent sites. There is no campground host but Forest Service Law Enforcement and Techs do patrol the area to ensure camping spot permits are properly purchased and tagged. The camping permits can be purchased near the entrance to the rec area. All spots are currently $10 a night but electric sites are in the process of being increased in price. The campground is open from March 15 to December 15 and gates are closed during the closed season. There are 13 electric sites and 42 non-electric sites.
Tips for the Trail!
- Camping spots can not be reserved – first come, first served. The earlier you get there, the better chance that you will get a spot.
- The hiker only trails are usually very beatdown and easy to follow all year around.
- Horse trails can become very muddy under wet conditions.
- Yield to all horse traffic and talk to the rider calmly until they leave the area in order for the horse to know that you’re safe.
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.