Shawnee National Forest

Sand Cave Hike

Shawnee National Forest Sand Cave is not only a good hike but the Shawnee National Forest Sand Cave has its roots dug into a historical time when the lives of men, women and children depended on the Shawnee National Forest Sand Cave the most. Enjoy the awesome bluffage that stands there awaiting your visit and dive into a history of significant proportion – the time of the Underground Railroad.

The Underground Railroad

and the Shawnee National Forest

Between the years of 1820 through 1865, the area which is now the Shawnee National Forest was vastly used within the Underground Railroad Movement. The Underground Railroad Movement was a secret system catering to helping aid and free escaped slaved in America. The Shawnee National Forest Sand Cave and other now know sites played a role in this dark American history. During that time, the forest was thicker and more forested than it is now – in much of the area, virgin growth forest existed. The Shawnee National Forest Sand Cave was not as easy to get to as it is today and that area served as a struggling point in which escaped slaves could seek support from those heroic conductors that helped them escape the horrors of plantations and slave owners. Now a relic of the past, the Shawnee National Forest Sand Cave and other areas of the forest serve as natural areas in which locals and travelers alike can enjoy and make memories of. Imagine what life was like at these sites during the Underground Railroad Movement, though?

Shawnee National Forest Sand Cave

The Hike!

The heat index was rising and the sun was making it known that it was there, as I hiked towards the Shawnee National Forest Sand Cave site, I had to keep telling myself to stay as hydrated as I could. It made me reflect and wonder how the escaped slaves ever made it to that place since back then, it was unlikely that developed trails existed.

For an easy hike to the Shawnee National Forest Save Cave, I recommend setting your driving directions to this point of Google Maps. If you start at that point, on the end of Sand Cave Lane is the start of the trail. The house nearby to the north has a few dogs that are often loose. Thus far, the dogs seem to be non-vicious but if you travel with a pet, that could change. There is enough room for a few vehicles to park around that trailhead. The road is paved up to that trailhead so most vehicles should be able to make it with no problem. If you want to add some extra mile to the hike, you can start where I started at this point on Cedar Grove Road. It is where the River to River Trail (R2R) crosses. Park on the sides of the road, there are no official developed parking areas present there but you can park easily on the sides of the road and be fine. Enter the R2R trail to the west side of the road and continue on.

For the most part, the trail is very easy to manage and see. There are some spots where horse damage is present during wet days but these spots are easy to manage by simply going off trail around them. I’ve observed snakes out there so be sure to watch for them if hiking out there, especially when going off the trail to avoid the horse damage. The trail is actually very nice, it is a trail that I’d love to get a mountain bike on. There are plenty of native trees and plants with some non-native pine plantations included as well. Pass by the first fork and remain on the R2R trail. Look for the second fork which displayed the 030 blaze. You want to be on Trail 030. Continue hiking but make sure you stay on 030. It gets confusing at a point where the trail T’s. Don’t go right as that will lead to a house on private property. Going left will likely take you towards Millstone Lake/Bay Creek area. Instead, go up and look for the US Forestry boundary signs. Continue up passing the next T-section. You’ll eventually go left and see the Natural Area sign to your north and that is where the Shawnee National Forest Sand Cave is. Sand Cave is actually on state land. Follow the trail next to the bluffage to reach the cave. You can’t miss the cave!

Watch My Video For More Detailed Information!

Shawn J. Gossman

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.
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