10 Shawnee National Forest
Are you looking for fun Shawnee National Forest family adventures to do in 2022? There are plenty of adventures to go on in the Shawnee that are fun and practical for children and family members of all ages. There is just a lack of information for families looking for these sorts of activities. So, in this article, I’ll be showing you 10 different Shawnee National Forest family adventures that you and your family can start enjoying today.
Shawnee National Forest Family Adventures 1: Geocaching
There are tons of Geocaching Opportunities in and around the Shawnee National Forest. Many of the caches are relatively easy to get to. Some of them might even be found on the trails and areas listed below. Download the app and make sure you can use it for offline use as many areas in the forest don’t have signal. Remember if you take something from the cache box, be sure to put something back in. Of course, you don’t have to take anything if you don’t want to. This is definitely a fun family adventure and allows for easy to difficult hiking pending on what you’re looking for.
Shawnee National Forest Family Adventures 2: Interpretive Hiking Trails
The Shawnee National Forest is full of interpretive hiking trails including Garden of the Gods with signage explaining the rock formations you see. There is also Millstone Bluff with signs showing you an ancient Native American people that was lived in that area. And our state area has some good trails for this as well including Giant City State Park and Heron Pond Preserve. These trails are exceptionally fun for the kids because there is a lot to see and parents can read to them what they are looking at.
Shawnee National Forest Family Adventures 3: Nature Education
There are numerous places to go for nature education around the Shawnee National Forest. Giant City State Park has a very nice welcome center with a lot to see, very helpful personnel, and the park puts on a lot of free family-friendly outdoor and indoor events throughout the year. Cache River Wetlands Center also has a very nice welcome center with a lot to see plus multiple events throughout the year that are free to the public and geared for family fun. Most of the Forest Ranger Stations have information as well but make sure call ahead during the pandemic times as some are closed more often.
Shawnee National Forest Family Adventures 4: Swimming
There are tons of swimming opportunities in and around the Shawnee National Forest. For bigger kids and families, Bell Smith Springs has a very famous swimming hole with more secluded spots along the way. Or you can check out the beaches at Pounds Hollow and Lake Glendale. There are also great public swimming pools like Dixon Springs State Park and Giant City State Park.
Shawnee National Forest Family Adventures 5: Gift Shops
There are tons of places to shop in and around the Shawnee National Forest. Check out Cache River Wetlands Center and Giant City State Park for cool souvenirs and nature items related to those state parks and the area. Head over to Garden of the Gods Outpost and Harbison’s General Store to buy various items and fun stuff like all Sasquatch stuff you could handle.
Shawnee National Forest Family Adventures 6: Sweets and Treats
Be sure to check out all the great eateries and sweet shops around the Shawnee National Forest. There is the famous Red Onion in Equality, Ned’s Shed in Vienna, Mackie’s Pizza in Harrisburg, Shotgun Eddy’s in Eddyville, Giant City Lodge in Makanda, Diver Down in Golconda, Dinner Bell Too in Anna, and Fat Ed’s in Metropolis. While visiting Metropolis, be sure to check out Frosted by Mollie and Sissy’s Sweet Shop for some great baked goods. Heathers Baked Goods and More in Carterville and The Chocolate Factory across from Dixon Springs State Park are also great ones.
Shawnee National Forest Family Adventures 7: Farms & Orchards
When enjoying the Shawnee National Forest, be sure to check out the many farms and orchard that the area has for visiting. One of the best ones to go to is Rendleman Orchards near Alto Pass. If you’re looking for a fun place for lodging that has cool animals, be sure to check out Rim Rock’s Dogwood Cabins across the street from Rim Rock. The Giant City Stables is a great place to see about riding horses around the Giant City area.
Shawnee National Forest Family Adventures 8: Rockhounding
If you like rockhounding or looking for rocks and fossils, there are all sorts of neat places to go in the Shawnee. The US Forest Service also states that you can take rocks no bigger than the palm of your hand, legally. You cannot collect from Natural Areas or areas where Archeological activities occur. Two places I recommend checking out is Hutchins Creek for general rockhounding and Millstone Lake for fossil hunting and see also some see awesome results of flash flooding.
Shawnee National Forest Family Adventures 9: Waterfall Chasing
There are numerous waterfalls that are easy for the whole family to see. Burden Falls has a few good ones at top that doesn’t require a lot of climbing. Ferne Clyffe State Park has numerous waterfalls on really short and easy trails that are fun for the whole family. Dixon Springs State Park offers a really neat spillway-based waterfall with a jungle gym of huge boulders all around it. Bork Falls offers a more secluded but easy to access waterfall that is fun for the whole family.
Shawnee National Forest Family Adventures 10: Bicycling
The Shawnee National Forest is full of bicycling adventures for the whole family. For bigger kids and older adults, make sure you do the Shawnee Challenge, which is a free, self-supported, no time limit challenge for biking and hiking adventures. There are some awesome bike trails that are safe for cyclists of all ages including Tunnel Hill State Trail, Fort Massac, Rend Lake Bike Trail, and Glen O Jones Lake. If you like mountain biking (even littler kids!), you got to check out Touch of Nature Mountain Bike Trail for some of the best bike trails in the region.
So, that should give you plenty of ideas for Shawnee National Forest family adventures. If I can ask one thing though, especially for visitors to southern Illinois, please spend your money at our local Mom and Pop stores. They’ll give you a more unique and memorable experience. And you get a chance to help those in southern Illinois who matter the most for the local experience. Shop southern Illinois local when enjoying the Shawnee National Forest and out state parks. Thanks for reading, please share this article, and until next time – I’ll see you on the trail!
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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!