Shawnee National Forest
Shawnee National Forest maps and apps can make your hiking experience a lot better. It might seem like there are no good resources out there for navigating the forest. However, you’d be surprised to know how many Shawnee National Forest maps and apps are available for you to utilize. In this article, I’m going to cover my top 10 Shawnee National Forest maps and smart phone apps so that you can utilize these navigational resources the next time you go into the forest. These resources are in no particular order and nothing here is sponsored.
Shawnee National Forest Maps/Apps 1: East Side Map
Friends of the Shawnee National Forest offers an awesome East Side Paper Map for the Shawnee National Forest. This is one of the better Shawnee National Forest maps out there to have in your collection. The map is very accurate, updated when needed, and it is made with a water-resistant paper which makes using it outdoors, easy. It shows a large area of the east side (Hidden Springs Ranger District) and then also has quadrants of different popular areas within the east side of the Shawnee National Forest. The best thing is that if you buy the map from Friends of the Shawnee National Forest, it puts money back into the National Forest. This map costs $12.00.
Shawnee National Forest Maps/Apps 2: West Side Map
Friends of the Shawnee National Forest also offers a West Side Paper Map for those who wish to have a paper map to explore the west side of the forest. Purchasing this map will help put money back into the Shawnee National Forest. This map is also created on paper that can be used during wet conditions making it a great outdoor map. This map is a little bit more modern for user friendliness rather than the traditional topo model that the east side reflects more of. Overall, the west side map is a good resource to have in your collection for Shawnee National Forest maps. This map costs $12.00.
Shawnee National Forest Maps/Apps 3: River to River Trail Maps
The River to River Trail Society has created several electronic maps that you can get for free if you wish to hike the nearly 160-mile River to River Trail in southern Illinois. These maps are available on Avenza for free to anyone who wishes to use them. There are no paper maps available for sale for this particular bundle. But the Avenza app works on your smartphone without cellphone data. It will keep you on the trail and a lot of people use it. You should also download the free PDF River to River Trail Guide to accompany the River to River Trail map bundle. The River to River Trail Society keeps the trail maps and the trail guide up to date when changes are needed. This map bundle and the Avenza app is free.
Shawnee National Forest Maps/Apps 4: Multi-Day Hiking Maps
The River to River Trail Society also offers a digital 6-map bundle for multi-day hiking loops in the Shawnee National Forest. If you are looking to backpack the Shawnee for more than one day in a row, this bundle is definitely something you will want to get. It shows multi-day hiking trips of Garden of the Gods area, Lusk Creek Wilderness, Sand Cave, and other areas in the Shawnee National Forest. You can purchase the map bundle for Avenza for around $10 for all 6-maps. However, Friends of the Shawnee National Forest also sells print versions of the maps as well which are made with the same water-resistant paper. These Shawnee National Forest maps are worth having in your collection!
Shawnee National Forest Maps/Apps 5: OnXHunt Maps
People often ask me how I find interesting spots and waterfalls that are off the beaten path. I use an app for my iPhone (also available of Android) called OnXHunt. This app is about $30.00 a year. It shows satellite, hybrid, and topo-modes for the maps. It allows you to download map areas for offline use or when you’re in an area with no cell phone data coverage which is most of the Shawnee. The biggest function of why I recommend this app is that it will show you public land and private property boundaries. Mix that feature with the ability to read a topography-styled map layer and you too can find the off the beaten places that we usually hike. I feel like OnXHunt is well worth the cost it is.
Shawnee National Forest Maps/Apps 6: All Trails Maps
All Trails is a free (with a paid version available) app for your smartphone that shows local trails. All Trails has come a long way in bettering their service and providing accurate information. A few years ago, I would have never recommended it, but they seem to be vigilant about ensuring accurate information and now I think it is a wonderful app to have as a resource. It won’t show you off the beaten path places, but it shows quite a few hiking spots in and around the Shawnee National Forest that many people don’t know about. Just keep in mind that some trails listed on the app are user named. For example, Garden of the Gods Backdoor Loop will take you on actual trails but is no official trail named this. It is a combination of trails that a user has created a name for them to loop them together.
Shawnee National Forest Maps/Apps 7: Forest Bundle Maps
On Avenza, you can download the Shawnee National Forest Map Bundle which shows various sector maps for the entire Shawnee Purchase Unit. These maps are downloaded from the US Forest Service and offered for free by a non-Forest Service user. While these maps are accurate maps, they are not endorsed officially. However, I have them on my phone and I feel they are handy to have at times. There are a lot of them, and it may take up a lot of space, but you can use them on your phone without cell phone coverage which is most of the Shawnee National Forest. The Shawnee National Forest map bundle on Avenza is free.
Shawnee National Forest Maps/Apps 8: Shawnee Google Map
A user-created version of Google Maps was created for Shawnee National Forest a few years ago which has become very popular over the years. It shows various hiking trails, natural areas, wineries and breweries, sightseeing locations, local shopping, and more. It also shows waterfall locations and rock formations. It is a great resource to help you decide what are of the Shawnee National Forest that you want to visit next. There is a way to use it with Avenza, but I have yet to explore that method, yet. I have not found this map to be good for using online, but I like to use it to help plan hikes when I can. This map is free to anyone who wishes to use it.
Shawnee National Forest Maps/Apps 9: Gaia Maps
Gaia Maps is another good source for GPS-enabled navigation. This is another app for your phone. I primarily use this app to show a 1930s layer of what the area looked like before the National Forest was put in. This allows me to determine if old home sites are near locations, I am hiking in. I also like to use this app to save all my GPS recordings for areas I want to save the location for such as rock formations and waterfalls. I don’t like to save all that on my main GPS app because it gets cluttered looking. Gaia has tons of different layers and it seems to have more than most GPS apps I have seen. Gaia Maps is free but there is a paid version available for using maps offline or in areas with no cell phone data which is most of the Shawnee National Forest.
Shawnee National Forest Maps/Apps 10: Strava
I wanted to mention Strava simply because it’s a good way to record your hike in the background. I record my hiking trips and my bike rides with Strava. I can then download the GPX file and upload it to my web server to allow others to download it if they want to. I prefer to have a dedicated app for recording hikes rather than recording with an app that I am using for navigational purposes. This isn’t going to be the case for everyone, but it is for me and I figured I’d give the suggestion out. Strava has a free version that is very limited. I recommend using the paid version if you plan to use it frequently.
And there you have it, my top 10 Shawnee National Forest maps and apps that I recommend you check out and use. Keep in mind, nothing is sponsored here. Maps and apps for the Shawnee shouldn’t be hard to find. Please share this article with others if you find it useful. If you have further suggestions for other maps and apps, comment on this article with them as long as they’re specifically for the Shawnee National Forest or at least can be used specifically for it. Thanks again for reading another 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!
I might try alltrails again. They were terribly out of date awhile back. I tried Gaia but it didn’t seem to work well on my phone, but I was also low on memory after installing Avenza and all the trail bundles. I now have 128GB so that’s no problem. I used oxhunt once with a free trial around Panther Hollow RNA and it worked fine. I’ll subscribe when it gets a little warmer and I get more time in the woods. Great for property boundaries.