Shawnee National Forest

Equestrian Friendly Trailheads

to Visit

Are you looking for Shawnee National Forest Equestrian Friendly Trailheads to visit for riding on the trails?

Luckily for you, quite a few trailheads are made for equestrian/hiker shared use.

But there are also a lot of equestrian trailheads that are difficult to drive to, especially with a loaded horse trailer.

The locations of the Shawnee National Forest Equestrian Trailheads are not widely advertised online due to information not being updated on old websites.

Hiking with Shawn is a friend to the horseback community and will gladly fill this gap.

So here are 10 of the better equestrian-friendly trailhead in the Shawnee National Forest.


Shawnee National Forest Equestrian Friendly Trailheads: East Side

Here is a list of the best trailheads for equestrian use and parking on the east side of the Shawnee National Forest.


#1 – Golden Circle Trailhead

Golden Circle Trailhead is the best Shawnee National Forest Equestrian Friendly Trailhead to access Garden of the Gods, Thacker Hollow, High Knob, and the Rice Hollow area. The trailhead is very large and can many trailers as well as cars. Multiple trails lead to different areas starting at the Golden Circle Trailhead. Please use caution if trails require you to cross Shawnee Forest Road. The directions for Golden Circle can be found on this Google Maps page.


#2 – Hitching Post Trailhead

Hitching Post Trailhead is the best way to access the Herod section of Garden of the Gods Wilderness or to access Eagle Mountain. This trail is also called Eagle Creek by some. This is a smaller trailhead, but it can fit multiple horse trailers and vehicles. Everyone should share the trailhead and park in an easy way for all types of cars to access. If you go towards Eagle Mountain, exercise caution as Jeeps and four-wheelers often use this area. The Hitching Post Trailhead directions can be found on this Google Maps page.


#3 – Benham Hill Trailhead

This is one of the largest Shawnee National Forest Equestrian Friendly Trailheads I’ve ever seen. I sometimes jokingly call the Walmart parking lot of the Shawnee National Forest. It is large enough to park several larger-styled horse trailers and plenty of vehicles. You can access many trails in these areas, including One Horse Gap and other great riding areas. The road to the trailhead can have some fairly severe erosion at times, so try to drive carefully and slowly to ensure you and your animal have a safe trip to and from the trailhead. Check out this Google Maps page for directions to this trailhead.


#4 – Lusk Creek Trailhead

Across from Circle B Horse Campground with direct access to the Lusk Creek Wilderness is an excellent trailhead with equestrian and vehicle parking availability. There is also a vault toilet located at this trailhead. I have safely left my vehicle overnight at this trailhead, so I assume trailers would be OK too for those of you who want to camp by horseback. Check out the Bear Branch Loop if you haven’t already; it is a beautiful trail with quite a bit to see, especially during the wet months. For directions to this trailhead, visit this Google Maps page.


#5 – Frank’s Tract Trailhead

For a quieter trailhead experience and quicker access to Secret Canyon and Natural Arch in the Lusk Creek Wilderness Area, check out Frank’s Tract Trailhead, located on Stone Bottoms Road. This trailhead offers a little bit of space for horse trailers. Vehicles should strategically park to ensure that trailers can get in and out. This is one of my favorite ways to access Lusk Creek Wilderness. I have left my truck there overnight without any issues. Please drive carefully on Stone Bottoms Road as people do live on it. Watch out for the Bigfoot! Check out this Google Maps page to find out how to get to this trailhead.


#6 – East Trigg Trailhead

East Trigg Trailhead is one of the relatively new Shawnee National Forest Equestrian Friendly Trailheads out there. There is plenty of parking for both horse trailers and cars. Riders can access many great areas of the Shawnee National Forest from this trailhead, including sections of the River to River Trail, Jack Davis Camp, Trail 001T, and one of my favorite loop trails, Trail 049. To locate this trailhead, check out this Google Maps page.


#7 – Gum Springs Trailhead

Gum Springs Trailhead will give horseback riders and hikers access to Gum Springs also called Cedar Creek Wonders. This is where Easter Basket Arch and JD Falls are located. Buffalo Rock trail is also found in this area. The trailhead is small but has enough room for a few trailers and cars if everyone practices sharing the parking lot. Check out this Google Maps page to find this trailhead.


#8 – Honey Hole Trailhead

The Honey Hole Trailhead is located on Cedar Grove Road near Eddyville. This is the best trailhead for accessing many beautiful sightseeing locations in the Shawnee National Forest, including Miller Grove, Sand Cave, Crow Knob, and Jackson Hole. Several high lines are available so you can hike to access the ecological and natural areas. The Pope County Saddle Club maintains Honey Hole. Check out this Google Maps page for directions to the Honey Hole.


Shawnee National Forest Equestrian Friendly Trailheads: West Side

There are a few Shawnee National Forest Equestrian Friendly Trailheads on the west side of the Nation Forest.


#9 – Progress Trailhead

The Progress Trailhead is one of the newer Shawnee National Forest Equestrian Friendly Trailheads out there. This trailhead appears to be maintained by Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge but doesn’t require a refuge sticker. There is room for horse trailers as well as vehicles. It is more accessible parking for horseback riders to access Panther Den Wilderness Area. Check out this trailhead by checking out this Google Maps page.


#10 – Giant City Horse Trailhead

The Giant City Horse Trailhead provides horse trailer parking, access to the bridle trail, and the 12-mile horseback riding trail through the state park. This trail passes through areas along the River to River Trail and Red Cedar Trail. To find this trailhead, check out this Google Maps link.


And there you 10 Shawnee National Forest Equestrian Friendly Trailheads to visit for your next riding adventure! Please share this article with others who might be interested in knowing how to access these horseback-friendly trailheads.


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Founder, Hiking with Shawn

Howdy folks! My name is Shawn Gossman and I founded Hiking with Shawn. I’m an avid hiker, cyclist and outdoorsman here in the Shawnee National Forest. I was born and raised in Southern Illinois and never want to leave. I hope you enjoy my website and I encourage you to interact with me!

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