Shawnee National Forest!
Shawnee National Forest has so many things to do!
The Shawnee isn’t the largest National Forest out there. It isn’t even the second largest or the third.
With under 300,000 total acres of National Forest, you might think there would be 100 things to do in the area.
But oddly enough, there are tons of things to do in the Shawnee National Forest.
And the following 100 isn’t really everything, either.
Hiking Trails in the Shawnee National Forest
With over 400-miles of trails, you are bound to find the best hike you can see in this National Forest!
#1: Garden of the Gods Observation Trail
The Garden of the Gods Observation Trail is a great starting point if you’ve never been to the Shawnee National Forest. This is often described as the trial that gets the most Instagram posts, and I’ll gladly fact-check that. While this trail is popular all year long, it will make you fall in love with the Shawnee after your first visit.
#2: Rim Rock National Recreation Trail
A site on an old Native American stone fort structure and a cave shelter once used to house oxen; Rim Rock National Recreation Trail is a true gem of the Shawnee. The walkways through the bluffs feel like you’re walking through a stone city. And a swimming beach is a short hike away, too. You want to put this trail on your bucket list.
#3: Old Stoneface Trail
Enjoy a short out and back hike up a bluff to see a world-famous rock formation called Old Stoneface. Some say it looks like an older woman, while others say it looks like an older man. Hike a little ways past the Old Stoneface to see one of the most beautiful scenic overlooks of the Shawnee National Forest country.
#4: Lusk Creek Canyon
Take a walk through the wilderness or a horseback ride and follow an old road to a magical canyon. Lusk Creek Canyon along the Indian Kitchen Trail offers so much to see. From old settlement before the Shawnee was a forest to an old cave shelter where Native Americans once dwelled. There is even a lovely waterhole that people often take a dip in from time to time.
#5: Jackson Hole Ecological Area
Drive down an old rough lane to reach this spectacular spot. Jackson Hole features numerous waterfalls and is often the best place to see frozen waterfalls. This hike is definitely for those who like it is rugged and challenging, but the reward is very worth it. Remember to put safety first when hiking around wet or frozen conditions.
#6: Bell Smith Springs
This Shawnee National Forest recreation area features numerous trails for all types of hikers. There are many different rock formations, including the largest Natural Arch in the State of Illinois. Waterfalls, swimming holes, and beautiful craftsmanship from the CCC helped make the Shawnee what it is today.
#7: Burden Falls
One of the best waterfall locations in the Shawnee is Burden Falls. Many can see the upper waterfalls from the parking lot, which is excellent for those with limited mobility. Trek down into the Canyon to see the big waterfall feeding into Burden Creek. Be careful here – this site claims many fall victims throughout the year.
#8: Jackson Falls
An area the Forest Service calls abandoned, Jackson Falls offers free primitive camping, miles upon miles of hiking and horseback riding trails, long gravel roads perfect for gravel biking, and a WORLD FAMOUS rock climbing and bouldering experience. Climbers and boulderers from all around the world come to experience the rocks of Jackson Falls. Oh, and the waterfalls are impressive, too!
#9: Trigg Tower
You can go up on one of the last standing Fire Towers in the Shawnee (well, only half of the original). The view is terrific on Trigg Tower, and it shows you the hills of the Shawnee National Forest. The stairs are a little shaky at first, but they are pretty sturdy. Sadly, vandals have painted some nasty things on top, so be warned.
#10 Millstone Lake
The lake is excellent for kayaking and fishing. There are plenty of trails for hiking and equine use. There is even an old bus that people like to check out. But the most remarkable thing about the area is the spot that resulted in massive erosion within a short period. A few years ago, a flash flood breached the levee and washed out all the sediment and dirt in buried rocks resulting in one of the most incredible sights in the forest.
#11: Millstone Bluff
This short hiking loop trail offers a unique look at an ancient past. Enjoy a well-interpreted journey through an old Native American community. There is a stone fort. There is a cemetery. There are petroglyphs. There are even areas where you can see Native American homes that once stood. This is a very sacred spot to witness with your own eyes.
#12: Sand Cave
Sand Cave is probably the deepest cave shelter in the Shawnee. But the history of the shelter is even deeper. During the Underground Railroad days, this shelter was prominently used to resupply runaway slaves passing through southern Illinois heading for the north. The entire area of Sand Cave has much African American history that everyone should know about.
#13: Max Creek Vortex
Enjoy this hiker and horseback riding loop trail that features an area with a bizarre legend attached to it. Max Creek is said to be an actual vortex site, often visited by paranormal experts and those interested in the tales behind history. Grim events were said to have happened at Max Creek, and since then, orbs of light, UFO sightings, and hauntings have been reported. What will you experience at the Vortex?
#14: Panther Den Loop
View unique den-like rock shelters, nooks, and crannies in the smallest Shawnee National Forest wilderness area, Panther Den Wilderness. Take a rugged hike or horseback ride through a motorless wilderness area to fantastic rock formations that look like castle walls. How did the site get its name? Were there panthers present in this area at one time?
#15: Cove Hollow Trail
Cove Hollow is a delightful out and back trail located at Cedar Lake near Carbondale. Enjoy views of the lake, impressive bluffs, cave shelters, and even some incredible waterfalls. The hike appears to be easy but does come with some challenging elevation the further you go.
#16: Pomona Natural Bridge
Take a short walk to the Pomona Natural Bridge, a beautiful rock bridge created by massive erosion centuries ago before humans even existed. While being careful, you can enjoy a lovely waterfall through the arch if you go when wet. This trail is very short but provides a lot to see.
#17: Little Grand Canyon
One of the best hiking trails on the west side of the Shawnee National Forest, Little Grand Canyon offers something for every type of hiker. Shawnee Forest County has fantastic views, waterfalls everywhere, wildlife watching and birding opportunities, wildflower viewing, and incredible rock formations. It’s just like the Grand Canyon, but you can finish it all in one day!
#18: Inspiration Point
One of the best views on the west side of the Shawnee, Inspiration Point, offers a direct view of the west at the highest point with the most accessible access. Enjoy the views at this spot by taking a very short trail from the parking lot. Continue up Pine Hills Road to see even more scenic overlooks, especially during fall colors and winter when all the leaves are down.
#19: Snake Road
There is a 2.7-mile Forest Service Road in the Shawnee that closes two times a year to allow for snakes to migrate across the road. It sounds like a horror movie to some. But to others, especially snake watchers, it is one of the most unique locations in the world. During the peak of migration, it isn’t that out of the ordinary to see over ten snakes crossing this road in just a few hours of walking it.
#20: Hutchins Creek
Probably one of the wildest and most scenic creeks in Southern Illinois! Hutchins Creek looks like it belongs in the Missouri Ozarks. This is because it is a part of the tiny area of the Illinois Ozarks. This amazing creek is often a go-to spot for playing in the water on a hot day.
State Parks Around the Shawnee National Forest
Southern Illinois is full of state parks and natural areas that seem like they’re out of this world!
#21: Fort Massac State Park
Located in Metropolis, this is Illinois’ first state park. A replica fort is situated in the park. There are walking and cycling paths, one of the region’s most challenging disc golf courses, and scenic views of the Ohio River. Enjoy camping at this park as well.
#22: Heron Pond State Preserve
Heron Pond is a 50-year-old Nature Preserve that features the area once looked like. Swamps. It makes you feel like you’re hiking through the Louisiana bayou but without the alligators. Make sure you bring plenty of bug spray for this hike.
#23: Dixon Springs State Park
Dixon Springs used to be a resort featuring multiple natural springs that visitors would bathe in. The area was also once inhabited by Native Americans. There are impressive waterfalls within this area, and camping is also available. During the summer, the park features an excellent public swimming pool.
#24: Mermet Swamp Nature Preserve
Whether you fish, eagle spot, or enjoy a scenic drive – Mermet Swamp Nature Preserve is a place for you to see. Enjoy a nice long drive around the lake and spot bald eagles, snakes, Herons, Egrets, etc. An excellent place for birding and a perfect place for fishing, too!
#25: Cave-in-Rock State Park
Explore a deep shelter cave next to the Ohio River with a grim history. The cave was once ravished by river pirates, thieves, bandits, and murderers. Many legends surround the Cave, including the infamous Pott’s Inn murders. The park also features hiking trails, camping, and an excellent restaurant lodge.
#26: Ferne Clyffe State Park
Do you like waterfalls? How about more waterfalls? And maybe even some more waterfalls after that? That’s Ferne Clyffe State Park. This park probably has more waterfalls than any other state park around the Shawnee National Forest. They also feature a fishing lake, scenic overlooks, picnic and shelters, camping, and numerous hiking trails. You can also rock climb!
#27: Giant City State Park
Giant City State Park is one of the best state parks in southern Illinois. This park does more events for the public all year round than any other state park in the region. Enjoy numerous hiking, horseback riding, and even backpacking trails. There are cabins, camping, and even horse stables. The hilly paved roads of the park are a favorite among road cyclists. And the historic CCC-built lodge claims its Fried Chicken is the best around.
#28: Trail of Tears State Forest
Trail of Tears State Forest features many things to do for visitors. There are numerous trails for hiking, horseback riding, and even a cross-country running trail. There are some of the most scenic campgrounds available in this state forest. The creeks look like they’re from the Ozarks, and the visitor center is an old barn. Even a fully intact fire watch tower is present, but sadly, you can’t go up it.
#29: Horseshoe Lake
Horseshoe Lake is the region’s only natural lake. It was once a part of the river and is now an oxbow lake. This state lake features friendly campgrounds, shelters, great roads for road biking, a nice off-road trail for hiking and mountain biking, and canoe/kayaking opportunities. Check out Horseshoe Lake Bar and Grill for excellent food and drinks.
#30: Piney Creek Ravine
Piney Creek Ravine is a nature preserve with a lot to see. This small area of state land is almost wholly surrounded by Amish country. Piney Creek Ravine features waterfalls, scenic creeks, impressive bluffs, and even native pine trees to Illinois. But the most prominent part about this area is the fact that there are more Native American petroglyphs at this location than anywhere else in the entire State of Illinois. And do note that live surveillance cameras monitor the rock art.
Shawnee National Forest Towns to Visit
While visiting the National Forest, remember to support the local communities around the Shawnee to help the area out while giving yourself a unique experience.
#31: Metropolis, Illinois
Metropolis, Illinois, is the Official Home of Superman. This little community is located on the Ohio River across from Paducah, Kentucky. Enjoy the Superman Festival, Statue, Museum, and Superman-themed shopping and entertainment businesses while visiting. Fort Massac State Park is also located in Metropolis.
#32: Cave-in-Rock, Illinois
While there aren’t many people in this small town, there are many things to do. Go check out the businesses around the community and the old historical buildings. Visit Cave-in-Rock state park for hiking, dining, and more. And most importantly, take a ride on the river ferry to Kentucky and back – because it’s free!
#33: Golconda, Illinois
Home of the famous Shrimp Festival, Golconda is a great place to visit when enjoying the Shawnee National Forest. There are plenty of great places to dine at, lodging opportunities, sightseeing, and beautiful views of the Ohio River. Also, Mason Ramsey, the Yodeling Boy, is from Golconda!
#34: Elizabethtown, Illinois
One of the starting points of the nearly 160-mile River to River Trail is located in Elizabethtown, Illinois. We locals call it E-Town for short. When visiting E-Town, check out the river restaurant that floats on the Ohio River. Enjoy the many other sightseeing opportunities around town while you’re visiting.
#35: Eddyville, Illinois
Eddyville, Illinois, calls itself the capital of trail riding in the southern Illinois region. It is home to a few horse campgrounds and more shared horseback riding and hiking trails. There are a lot of miles that can be put on foot and horseback throughout the Eddyville area. While in Eddyville, check out Shotgun Eddy’s great drinks, entertainment, and excellent food.
#36: Harrisburg, Illinois
Home of the Sasquatch Festival, Harrisburg, Illinois, is a great town to visit. It is also where the US Forest Service Shawnee National Forest headquarters is in case you need some maps, Shawnee merch, or forest information. There are numerous places to eat and shop in Harrisburg as well. And of course, be sure to check out Sasquatch Festival.
#37: Vienna, Illinois
Vienna is home to many things, including Tunnel Hill State Trail headquarters and the Hidden Springs Ranger District for the Shawnee National Forest. There are some excellent sightseeing opportunities in Vienna, and check out the visitor center. Enjoy all the local Mom and Pop dining establishments as well.
#38: Anna, Illinois
Anna is another great community around the Shawnee National Forest. There are a lot of opportunities for dining, shopping, and lodging in this area. Downtown Anna is worth visiting with many different shops and events always going on.
#39: Alto Pass, Illinois
Visit the tiny village of Alto Pass! This may be the capital of Shawnee Hills Wine Country. There are many wineries around Alto Pass and Vineyards as well. Check out Rendleman Orchards for entertainment, general store goods, fun events, etc.
#40: Makanda, Illinois
Want to step back into time? Step back into 1969 when visiting Makanda, Illinois. It’s like you’re back in the hippy days! But these hippies are fun and very welcoming to visitors. Makanda is home to Giant City State Park. The actual town has its own boardwalk mall, too. There are quite a few stores worth checking out when visiting the area.
#41: Cobden, Illinois
Be sure to stop by Cobden for more wine and orchard experiences. Lodging, shopping, and sightseeing opportunities are available around Cobden as well. Many orchards, vineyards, and farms that sell excellent local goods are situated around this area.
#42: Murphysboro, Illinois
Murphysboro is home to the US Forest Service Work Center and is also the BBQ capital of Illinois. Be sure to check out 17th Street BBQ while visiting for some of the best BBQs in the area. Murphysboro has a beautiful state park to enjoy as well. There are plenty of shops, diners, and sightseeing opportunities downtown. Murphysboro is also home to the infamous Big Muddy Monster legend.
#43: Carbondale, Illinois
Carbondale is home to Southern Illinois University. Carbondale has played a significant role in the economic stability of the region. Because of the diversity of the University, visitors in the area can enjoy shopping and dining experiences from around the world, all in a tiny southern Illinois city. Be sure to visit all the outdoor and cycling stores around the city. And Carbondale always has free events going on for everyone to enjoy.
Sightseeing Around the Shawnee National Forest
Looking for stuff to see and do besides hiking in the Shawnee? There are plenty of things around the forest where you can get your entertainment!
#44: Hicks Dome
This is best seen on Google Maps. Type in Hicks Dome in Illinois. The geological feature could be from an asteroid that hit the area long ago. Or it could be from an ancient volcano. There are many theories about it. While most of the inside of the dome is private property, there are roads running through it that you can drive on.
#45: Garden of the Gods Outpost
While visiting areas like Garden of the Gods, High Knob, or Rim Rock – you got to stop by the Outpost Store located along Karbers Ridge Road by the turn-off to go towards Garden of the Gods. They got Shawnee National Forest merchandise, camping and hiking supplies, grocery items, Bigfoot stuff, and some of the best soft-serve ice cream in the region!
#45: Sassy the Sasquatch
Right across from the Outpost Store mentioned right above this is Sassy the Sasquatch statue. Everyone goes to get their picture taken with Sassy. Don’t worry! She won’t bite you; she loves all the attention she can get. Another Sasquatch statue is up in Harrisburg as well.
#46: Illinois Iron Furnace
Check out the Illinois Iron Furnace site. The US Forest Service manages this. It features a beautiful picnic area next to a replica Iron Furnace. There are signs available on site that explain more about what the furnace was used for. The CCC reconstructed the furnace when first establishing the Shawnee National Forest. There is a nice creek to play in across the way, too!
#47: War Bluff Wildlife Sanctuary
This private nature preserve is brought to you by the Audubon Society. Once a farming area, now a preserve. You can see many pollinator gardens, wildlife preserves, and wildflower areas here. There are annual events for kids and families and auctions to help support the program.
#48: Camp Ondessonk
The largest free-falling waterfall in the region is located at Camp Ondessonk. Hiking is available to the public with permission and day-use fees. But this is also a favored Catholic-based summer camp for kids from all over. Kids enjoy hiking, biking, equine, swimming, and more. They also sponsor children from low-income families as well.
#49: Mermet Springs
Do you remember a famous movie called US Marshals with Tommy Lee Jones? Do you remember the big plane that crashed and rolled into the river? Well, that plane is underwater at Mermet Springs. Yes, that exact plane from the movie. And…you can dive into it as well. Mermet Springs is a popular diving establishment near Metropolis.
#50: Big Cypress Access
Drive down an old gravel road—Park on an unmarked gravel hunter’s check-in parking lot. Walk down a trail that takes maybe 30-seconds. And feast your eyes on some of the largest cypress trees you’ve ever seen. Big Cypress Access has cypress trees that are big enough that more than five people can fit inside the hollow portion of the tree.
#51: Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour
Take a different adventure through the woods at Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour. Instead of a hike, ride, or paddle – you enjoy the views while suspended from the ground. Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour is a zipline tour of the Shawnee Hills countryside.
#52: Bald Knob Cross
Want to see one of the largest crosses you’ll ever see? Head over to the Bald Knob Cross of Peace near Alto Pass. The cross is over 100-feet tall and can be seen from Alto Pass and other communities around it with an overlook. An annual motorcycle meet called “Blessing of the Bikes” meets there and others.
#53: Cliff View Park
Enjoy a lovely overlook at Cliff View Park in Alto Pass. If you look hard around, you can see the Bald Knob Cross from this point. The park features a few nice overlooks and scenery around the top side. The trail below can be accessed from Downtime Alto Pass.
Roadside Historical Markers Around the Shawnee National Forest
Enjoy a dive around the Shawnee National Forest and check out some of the most historical areas in the southern Illinois region on this auto tour.
#54: Cairo, Illinois (marker) is located in Alexander County around Horse Creek Trail and the Grapevine Trail region of the Shawnee. Learn about the historical significance of a town that is now called a living ghost town in southern Illinois.
#55: Welcome to Illinois (marker) is another Alexander County historical site. You might as well see the sign and read about the significance of the state of Illinois. Southern Illinois has so much rich history that impacted the rest of the state.
#56: Illinois in the American Revolution (marker) is located in Massac County at Fort Massac State Park. Illinois played a role in the American Revolution. Learn more about this and other roadside historical markers spread throughout the state.
#57: Pott’s Tavern (marker) is a historical roadside marker currently missing. The legend of the infamous Pott’s Tavern and Inn is worth researching. Victims were lured to spring and killed so that they could be easily robbed.
#58: Fluorite Mining (marker) was a (and still is) common practice in southern Illinois. You can even find traces of it at various locations about and within the Shawnee National Forest.
#59: Kaskaskia-Shawneetown and Goshen Trail (marker) is an exciting piece of history. The Goshen Trail is an old road that once took southern Illinoisans to a more northern state point. Most of these trails are long gone now, but something you can still find remnants.
#60: George Rogers Clark Campsite (marker) is the sight of where the men camped as they marched onwards towards Fort Massac. Imagine how long it took to get to that location back then. It would take them days while it now only takes us less than an hour.
#61: Anna-Jonesboro Trail of Tears Lincoln-Douglas Debate (marker) is a historical site that discusses the creation of Union County. It also briefs on the Trail of Tears which was the period for removing the Cherokee and other Native American tribes. It also touches base on President Lincoln and Douglas’s debates.
Places to Eat Around the Shawnee National Forest
You can’t have the authentic experience of the Shawnee National Forest without eating at the best dining establishments around southern Illinois.
#62: Red Onion in Equality. They are known to have some of the best steaks in the region. This is a great place to dine after visiting the Garden of the Gods, Rim Rock, Old Stoneface, or Glen O Jones Lake.
#63: Diver Down in Golconda. Their burgers are some of the best in the area. They also have great appetizers as well. Check them out during the Golconda Shrimp Festival.
#64: Shotgun Eddy’s in Eddyville. Great breakfast, pizza, burgers, and alcoholic drinks. There is always entertainment at this place—a great place to visit after hiking Indian Kitchen, Bell Smith Springs, or Bay Creek Wilderness.
#65: Murphy’s Pitt BBQ in Ozark. This is the only place to eat for miles around Ozark. Enjoy some great burgers, homemade pies, and BBQ—a great place to eat after a trip to Jackson Falls or Trigg Tower.
#66: Ned’s Shed in Vienna. Great burgers, slaw, fries, and malts. This is one of those Old-Timey burger joints you’ll love to eat again. Visit Ned’s Shed after a trip to Heron Pond, Wildcat Bluff, or Tunnel Hill State Trail.
#67: The Bunmakers in Murphysboro. For a great breakfast stop, check this place out. Eggs, biscuits, and gravy, and their homemade cinnamon rolls are worth stopping for. This is a great place to eat after a trip to Bald Knob Wilderness, Cove Hollow Trail, or Pomona Natural Bridge.
#68: Quatros Deep Dish Pizza in Carbondale. This pizza place is a famous local favorite in southern Illinois. You know their phone number by heart because of their commercials if you’re from southern Illinois. After a Giant City State Park hike, this would be a great place to eat.
#69: Horseshoe Lake Bar & Grill in Thebes. This bar and grill is the only place you can stop for a meal and cold drinks around the Thebes and Horseshoe Lake area. The food is incredible, too! This would be a great stop after visiting Horse Creek Trail.
#70: Bottoms Up Bar and Grill in Jacob. This place is known for its fried chicken and beer. But it also presents itself as a family bar and grill opening its doors to people of all ages. After hiking LaRue Pine Hills or Clear Springs Wilderness, this would be a great place to dine.
#71: Whiffle Boy’s Pizza in Goreville. This is a great pizza place with excellent service. This would be the best place to eat after a hike in Ferne Clyffe State Park.
Places to Bike Around the Shawnee National Forest
Southern Illinois is a cycling paradise. No matter what type of cycling you’re into, you can find a great ride around the Shawnee National Forest.
#72: Tunnel Hill State Trail is a 45+ mile Rail Trail made up of crushed limestone for most of its length. The most popular segment is Vienna to Tunnel Hill, and it features multiple trestles and a 500+ foot tunnel that you bike through.
#73: George Rogers Clark Discovery Trail is located at Fort Massac State Park. This 8+ miles Rail Trail follows the edge of the state along the Ohio River. Enjoy views of the Ohio bottomlands, flood plains, and Fort Massac State Park.
#74: Glen O Jones Bike Trail is located in Equality at Glen O Jones Lake. This trail is a little over 5-miles and is an out and back. You could add more mileage by biking some back roads. This trail is neat because it goes through agriculture and alongside butterfly gardens.
#75: Dixon Springs Mountain Bike Trails is located in Dixon Springs State Park in Golconda. This trail connects with the Lake Glendale Mountain Bike Trail System. While you are visiting, be sure to check out the Shawnee Challenge.
#76: Lake Glendale Mountain Bike Trails is located in Glendale’s Lake Glendale Recreation Area. These trails connect with the Dixon Springs Mountain Bike Trail System. There is also a beach and a campground located in this recreation area.
#77: Touch of Nature Mountain Bike Trails are located at the Touch of Nature Outdoor Learning Center in Makanda. This is a program of the Southern Illinois University of Carbondale. There are a planned 30-miles of trails, and currently, there are easy to rugged trails and even trails for small children. These are some of the best mountain bike trails in the region.
#78: Camp Ondessonk Mountain Bike Trails are located at Camp Ondessonk in Ozark. There are over 15-miles of hiking and biking trails on the property. Camp Ondessonk is private property, and there are rules on how you can enjoy their slice of paradise at this link.
Lodging Around the Shawnee National Forest
Looking for cabins, campgrounds, and Airbnb around the Shawnee National Forest? There are plenty of them for you and everyone!
#79: San Damiano Retreat Center in Golconda. There are cabins, picnic areas, hiking trails, bluffage, and even Ohio River access! This is a great place to get away from everything and see some of the best views of the Ohio River.
#80: Golconda Lock and Dam Houses are a great place to stay on the Golconda Riverfront. These homes were created for Lock and Dam workers when the lock and dam were maintained long ago. Now they serve as beautiful guest houses with great views.
#81: Rim Rock Dogwood Cabins is located right across the road from Rim Rock in Karbers Ridge. The extremely Pet-Friendly cabin rental property includes unique animals to enjoy. It is also within easy walking distance of Rim Rock.
#82: Timber Ridge Treehouse Cabins near Cadiz offers legit Treehouse Cabins. Make your experience a special one by staying in a treehouse. It sounds like something only a kid could imagine, but it is a reality here in the Shawnee National Forest.
#83: Shawnee Forest Cabins are the closest cabins to Garden of the Gods. These cabins are also right down the road from the Outpost General Store. That place has some of the best ice creams around.
#84: Rustic Hideaway Cabins is located in Jonesboro. These cabins are next to a Kaolin Clay Mine/Iron Mountain in the Shawnee National Forest. The cabins are also very close to Trail of Tears State Forest. These are some of the most secluded cabins in the region.
#85: Shawnee Paradise is a great Airbnb located in the Lake of Egypt near the Shawnee. This home is also close to Burden Falls and Tunnel Hill State Trail. Enjoy being tucked away from other neighbors on a private lane.
#86: Shawnee Forest Campground is an all-electric campground located in Vienna. This campground features a walking path right down the road from Tunnel Hill State Trail. The owners run the biggest Shawnee group on Facebook, so they know much about the area.
#87: Hayes Canyon Campground is an equine campground located in Eddyville. This horse campground offers access to some of the most scenic horse and hiker trails in the Shawnee National Forest. Be sure to check out Jackson Hole and others in the area.
#88: High Knob Campground is an equine campground located in High Knob/Karbers Ridge. While staying at this campground, check out the High Knob Area trails for equine and hiking use.
#89: Turkey Bayou is a free campground located near Grand Tower within the Oakwood Bottoms area of the Shawnee National Forest. There are no restrooms or water sources, but it is free. This campground sits next to the Big Muddy River, so bring your fishing pole.
Shawnee National Forest Challenges
Ready to challenge yourself? The Shawnee National Forest has some great challenges to enjoy participating in.
#90: Dirty South Roubaix is a gravel bicycle race located on the west side of the National Forest. This is a challenging bike ride with many hills and miles upon miles of gravel roads. But it features some of the most beautiful spots in the Shawnee.
#91: Superman Festival is a fair, celebration, and even bike ride all about Superman. This festival is located in Metropolis, which happens to be the home of Superman. Famous Superman actors and officials have visited this festival many times.
#92: Golconda Shrimp Festival is exactly what it says. SHRIMP! People from all over the country visit this festival to get shrimp of all flavors created by different cooks and businesses. Some booths sell all sorts of goodies and live music.
#93: Sasquatch Festival is located in Harrisburg. This festival celebrates Sasquatch and includes vendors, festival activities, live music, and guided hiking trips. Maybe when you visit, you might get the chance to spot Sasquatch.
#94: Vulture Fest is located in Makanda, where Giant City State Park is. It is a fall celebration while actual vultures start surrounding the little village. There is shopping, street art, live music, and more.
#95: Tunnel Hill 50/100 is a foot race located along the Tunnel Hill State Trail starting in Vienna. This is a Boston Marathon qualifying race. Many of the best runners in the world participate in this race, making it one of the best around.
#96: Shawnee Hills 100 is a 100 mile/100K/50K/Half Marathon Trail Running event located in the Shawnee National Forest. This event isn’t just marketed for runners but for everyone even those who are not as good at running.
#97: River to River Relay is a running event that starts from the Ohio River to the Mississippi River. Several thousand people participate in this running event each year. The whole region joins hands and makes the runners feel at home. Running is done by teams.
#98: Blessing of the Bikes is a motorcycle event where bikers make their way to the Bald Knob Cross near Alto Pass. Bikers drive up to the cross to be blessed for safe travels while on the road. This brings many motorcycle riders to southern Illinois from all over the world.
Shawnee National Forest Challenges
Ready to challenge yourself? The Shawnee National Forest has some great challenges to enjoy participating in.
#99: The Shawnee Challenge is a self-supported adventure challenge with no time limit. This challenge involves hiking and biking in a state park and the forest. Those who complete the challenge will get a little prize afterward.
#100: River to River Trail Hike is the Shawnee National Forest’s long trail. At right under 160-miles, many hikers thru-hike and section-hike this trail each year. Some even compete for the Fastest Known Time on the trail. It isn’t the AT, but southern Illinois is proud of it.
And that sums up the 100 things to do in the Shawnee National Forest. This article took a while to write. Please consider supporting me in my effort by sharing it with others. And don’t worry, there is plenty more to do in the Shawnee than these 100 things, so you’ll never run out of stuff!
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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!
Don’t forget about Pounds Hollow lake and campground!
Hey Shawn! Thanks for all your hard work and sharing your plethora of knowledge. Just a thought about your list of 100 things to do in the Shawnee. The Shawnee Wine Trail is a big draw for a lot of folks too. Some of the wineries have food and entertainment as well for a family friendly environment. Just wanted to share. Gotta love Southern Illinois!
You’re very right! I need a good top 10 wine stops around the Shawnee!
Stop by and visit us sometime at Wine Trail Wilderness Hipcamp. We would love to share with you the two closest wineries to us. (We’re right between Hickory Ridge Winery and Pomona Winery). We can show you our place and get y’all involved in a fun, spirited game of bocce. Love to give you good information on the wineries, and introduce you to the owners. Feel free to contact me and we can make that list a reality!
I need to write an article on these Hip Camps! Do you know of others in our area?
Yes, there are a few. You can Google Hipcamp and find them based on location. I’d be happy to help, and share with you any information I have.