Shawnee National Forest

Horse Campgrounds

to Stay at in 2022

Are you looking for great Shawnee National Forest horse campgrounds to stay at this year?

Do you want to find campgrounds with unique features and close to excellent trails to ride?

This article will point out ten great Shawnee National Forest horse campgrounds to give you an incredible experience as you trail ride in the Shawnee. Backcountry Horsemen of Illinois brings this article to you in collaboration with Hiking with Shawn.

The Backcountry Horsemen of Illinois proudly serves the Shawnee National Forest area and are constantly working on trail maintenance in the National Forest.

Please support this organization and its efforts to make the Shawnee National Forest the best horseback riding destination in the region.


Shawnee National Forest Horse Campgrounds 1: Hayes Canyon

Located in Eddyville, Hayes Canyon is one of the region’s best Shawnee National Forest horse campgrounds.

Hayes Canyon has been around for approximately 30 years and offers full electric sites, rental campers, a rental cabin, and accommodations for your equine. Hayes Canyon is ideally situated near excellent horse trails in the Shawnee National Forest with Jackson Hole (and horse highlines), Double Branch Hole, and Crow Knob. Enjoy miles and miles of riding trails and the River to River Trail all year long.


Shawnee National Forest Horse Campground 2: High Knob

Located in Karbers Ridge, High Knob Campground is a one-of-kind equine campground with camper spaces, a hotel, and even spacious, beautifully decorated cabins for rent.

The hostess is one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet, and she accommodates her guests. High Knob is the campground famous for the Big Mule Ride of the Shawnee National Forest. Enjoy countless miles of riding trails here, including Hurricane Bluff, River to River Trail, and easy access to Garden of the Gods Wilderness Area.


Shawnee National Forest Horse Campground 3: Double M

Located in Junction, Double M is a one-of-a-kind equine camping experience. Enjoy all the campground amenities you can enjoy.

They have a restaurant that you shouldn’t miss out on, and the hosts are some of the friendliest people around. This campground is close to Pounds Hollow Beach for great swimming during the summer heat. Enjoy hundreds of miles of scenic riding trails, including Blue Hole, Cadiz, Initial Tree, Thacker Hollow, and the River to River Trail.


Shawnee National Forest Horse Campground 4: Little Lusk

Located near Eddyville, Little Lusk is a premiere equestrian campground that you’ll love to experience.

There are 50 campsites, lodge rooms, an events barn, and even nearby lakes to fish in. You can even rent the event barn if you have an event that needs space. Little Lusk is situated near various riding and hiking trails, including Lusk Creek Wilderness and Burden Falls Wilderness.


Shawnee National Forest Horse Campground 5: Circle B

Located in Eddyville, Circle B is an excellent campground for riders looking for a great wilderness experience.

The campground is located across from the Lusk Creek Trailhead and nestled against Lusk Creek Wilderness. Enjoy hundreds of miles of trail, including Wishing Well, Owl Bluff, Lusk Creek Canyon, Rock House, and Secret Canyon. Lusk Creek Wilderness is the largest wilderness area in the Shawnee National Forest and is often a favorite of equestrians who visit.


Shawnee National Forest Horse Campgrounds 6: Bear Branch

Located in Eddyville, Bear Branch has it all for all! Camping, tents, cabins, hiking, and lots of horseback riding.

Enjoy Eddyville’s Shotgun Eddy’s, which is close by and offers excellent food, a bar, and an outdoor pavilion, with entertainment in the warmer months.  Their food is some of the best in southern Illinois for such a small town. Enjoy easy access to Lusk Creek Wilderness, Hayes Creek, and the River to River Trail. Bear Branch also offers horseback rides on rental horses for those looking for a genuine equine adventure.


Shawnee National Forest Horse Campground 7: Bay Creek Ranch

Located near Simpson, Bay Creek Ranch offers equestrians a wonderful camping experience.

The campground is very easy to get to and is located off a paved road. The campground is open to tourists, hikers, hunters, and horseback riders. Enjoy access to some of the area’s best trails, including Millstone Lake, Sand Cave, Honey Hole, Miller Grove, and Jackson Falls.


Shawnee National Forest Horse Campground 8: Camp Thirsty

Located in Eddyville, Camp Thirsty is an excellent private horse camp experience.

The camp is close to Hayes Canyon campground and Shotgun Eddy’s Bar and Grill in Eddyville. Enjoy nearby hiking trails such as Bell Smith Springs and Millstone Bluff. Burden Falls is the tallest waterfall in the Shawnee and is right down the road. Enjoy horseback riding around Hayes Creek Canyon, Double Branch Hole, Jackson Hole, Jackson Falls, and the River to River Trail.


Shawnee National Forest Horse Campground 9: Cedar Lake Ranch

Located in Vienna, Cedar Lake is an excellent campground with a lot to do.

There are 200 campsites and a 25-acre lake on the camp’s 128 acres. The Shawnee National Forest borders the campground on two different sides. There are a lot of hiking trails nearby as we as a 45-mile rail-trail used by runners and cyclists. Of course, there is access to hundreds of miles of trails for horseback riding. Some of the trails close by include Max Creek Vortex, Cedar Creek, and Camp Ondessonk.


Shawnee National Forest Horse Campgrounds 10: TK Ranch

Located in Golconda, TK Ranch offers a great camping experience to horseback riders visiting the area.

There are 40-sites with electricity. There are no water hookups, but the hosts will get water to you and your equine. TK Ranch is very close to the famous One Horse Gap Lake, an excellent lake for fishing, and miles upon miles of beautiful scenic hiking and equestrian trails such as One Horse Gap and Rocky Top. Visit the Gap Bar and Grill in nearby Herod for entertainment, alcoholic drinks, and food.


So, as you can tell, there are quite a few options for Shawnee National Forest horse campgrounds. If you’ve never visited and ridden in the Shawnee, you are truly missing out!

Book your next riding adventure at one of the campgrounds above and get out here for some of the best riding memories you’ll ever have.

Thanks for checking out my post about these beautiful campgrounds, and please share this with others who might enjoy it!


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Thanks again for checking out another one of my articles and until next time, I’ll see you on the trail!



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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