5 Southern Illinois

Hiking Vacation Ideas

for All Types

of Hikers

Planning a vacation? Why not plan a southern Illinois hiking vacation? Escape the big city and head down, up, over, and out to southern Illinois for a grand hiking vacation that you’ll always remember. No matter what type of hiker you are, southern Illinois have a perfect outdoor experience for you. You want something rugged? We got it. You want something easy with elegant accommodations? We got that, too! Or maybe you want something in between that? Trust me, your perfect Southern Illinois Hiking Vacation awaits you. So, save some fuel cost this year and make southern Illinois your destination from Chicago, Nashville, Indianapolis, or St. Louis and come see us for an awesome hike with a whole lot more.

A Family Friendly Southern Illinois Hiking Vacation in Karbers Ridge

Karbers Ridge is the perfect spot for a Southern Illinois Hiking Vacation when it comes to family and kids. Take a trip to Garden of the Gods Observation Trail with the kids to give them an easy hike with a lot to see. During the warmer months, enjoy a swim at Pounds Hollow Beach. And of course, stop by Garden of the Gods Outpost for the best ice cream around and sasquatch merch. Take a short drive to check out the Illinois Iron Furnace and tour the Cave-in-Rock Pirate Cave.

Lodging in this area is perfect for families, too! Stay on Rim Rock’s Dogwood Cabins and check out all the fun farm animals they have. These cabins are 100% pet-friendly, too! Enjoy a treehouse cabin experience at Timber Ridge Cabins or get a nice cabin close to Garden of the Gods at Shawnee Forest Cabins. If you’d rather camp, there are National Forest campground’s location at both Pounds Hollow and Garden of the Gods.

Parents don’t worry! There are plenty of fuel stops around the area including Harbison’s Country Store and Gas Station as well as a Dollar General. If you want a unique meal, be sure to head over the Harrisburg for Mackie’s Pizza or check out the Red Onion in Equality.

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Shawnee National Forest Hiking Trails

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A Couple Lovers Southern Illinois Vacation in Lake of Egypt

Need a southern Illinois hiking vacation for two? Do you want to take your special someone out for a hike and a romantic getaway? Southern Illinois has got the goods for you! Enjoy a stay at Lake of Egypt, close enough to town but far enough away from the noise. And there is plenty of hiking to do nearby including a hike for two at Ferne Clyffe State Park or a waterfall chasing trip to Burden Falls. Maybe enjoy a nice swim at the spring at Bell Smith Springs. Enjoy a lovely bike ride along the Tunnel Hill State Trail.

There are all sorts of places to stay around the Lake of Egypt as well. For starters, if you enjoy a cabin experience, check out Dam Near Lake of Egypt Cabins. There is a wonder Airbnb called Shawnee Paradise located near the Shawnee National Forest side of Lake of Egypt. For those of you who would rather go camping, check out camping options at Ferne Clyffe State Park.

There are almost unlimited options for places to eat in nearby Marion, from authentic Italian food to good old fashion burgers. If you’re a fan of pizza, you should definitely check out Whiffle Boy Pizza in Goreville. Maybe even pack a picnic and head over to Ferne Clyffe State Park and enjoy a romantic blanket lunch for two.

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Shawnee National Forest Handicap Accessible Trails

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An Elegant Southern Illinois Hiking Vacation in Makanda

Looking for a more elegant-styled hiking adventure with fine dining, wine, and easier trails mixed in? Makanda is the place you! Enjoy the many different trails of Giant City State Park where there is literally a trail for all types of hikers, even those in wheelchairs. For a more rugged hiking adventure, check out the nearby Panther Den Wilderness Area. If the area is wet, be sure to stop by Rocky Bluff for some amazing waterfall chasing experiences. There are definitely plenty of hiking opportunities in this part of the backcountry.

Lodging is very doable in this area. For a very unique and memorable lodging experience, you should consider staying at the Makanda Inn which has all the modern benefits of staying in a secluded forested area away from everyone else. If you’re brining your RV in or would rather tent camp, be sure to check out Giant City Campground which has a full hookup capability as well as a shower house. The nearby City of Carbondale has tons of Hotels and other local tourism services for visitors in the area.

For dining, you got to check out Giant City Lodge which is known for its fried chicken. Some say it is the best in southern Illinois. There are numerous vineyards and wineries along the Shawnee Wine Trail out this way as well. You can always grab a bit to eat at most these venues, too. Carbondale has even more places to eat especially around Illinois Avenue with a large diverse selection of foods from around the world.

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Giant City State Park Activities

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A Rugged Southern Illinois Hiking Vacation in Eddyville

Looking for a more all-hiking exclusive vacation? Southern Illinois definitely has your back! Head over to Eddyville in rural Pope County to experience the Lusk Creek Wilderness! Download the Multi-Day Hiking Bundle for Avenza on your smartphone and have a backpacking trip in the rugged wilderness. There are hundreds of miles of trails around this area and plenty of loops that you could hike for two days or more pending on how long you wish to stay.

When not eating Mountain House meals by your tent, be sure to check out Shotgun Eddy’s for some great breakfast, lunch, dinner, and of course alcohol. Please remember to drink responsibly. You should also check out Divers Down in Golconda for some great food as well.

You can camp for free in the wilderness area for up to 14-days. Parking is available at the Lusk Creek Trailhead across from Circle B Ranch or Franks Tract off of Stone Bottoms Road. Campgrounds are also available at Bell Smith Springs and Lake Glendale.

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Southern Illinois Hiking Trails: Bell Smith Springs

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A Sightseeing Southern Illinois Hiking Vacation in Alto Pass

For those of you who are more sightseeing hikers than anything else, we have a southern Illinois hiking vacation for you, too. Enjoy a stay in the cool little village of Alto Pass. Take a short walk down the Quetil Trail to see some amazing bluffage and historical signs of the once railway. On top is Cliff View Park with a great overlook of the Shawnee Hills. You might even see Bald Knob Cross across the way which is also an easy drive to go see as well. Head over to Inspiration Point to see a beautiful overlook of the Mississippi River Bottomlands and if the timing is right, you can see actual snakes migrating across the road at LaRue Pine Hills Snake Road.

There are plenty of places to stay at and around Alto Pass, too! If you need a place for quite a few people, check out the Havisham House. For cabins down the road from Alto Pass, check out the Skyline View Cabins. Rustic Hideaway Cabins in Jonesboro are also nearby. If you want a camping experience, be sure to check out Pine Hills Campground in LaRue Pine Hills or the very scenic campsites at Trail of Tears State Forest.

For dining options, be sure to check out Peachbarn Winery and Café in Alto. Von Jakob offers a winery, brewery, lodging, and eating features. Alto Vineyards is a great place to stop for wine and snacks. Be sure to check out Rendleman Orchards for a great selection of locally made foods, sauces, honey, and treats.

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LaRue Pine Hills

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So, as you can see, there are plenty of southern Illinois hiking vacations to be made in our region. You just got to pack your bags and head on over here and come see us. We’d love to have you here to enjoy southern Illinois with us. Bring the kids, bring the significant other, bring the in-laws, bring the dogs, heck bring everyone. There are plenty of things to do in southern Illinois. If you need a more customized itinerary schedule, I offer this as an affordable service at Hiking with Shawn Tours. Be sure to share this with a friend who is looking for local vacation ideas as well!

Please Support Hiking with Shawn!

Alrighty folks, I hope you have enjoyed this content. I provide it for free and it takes a while to create. If you would be so kind enough to support my efforts, you can do so by sharing this post with others, especially on social media. Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel to see my latest videos, shorts and live streams. Follow me on FacebookInstagramTwitter and TikTok for unique content that you will only find on those pages. You might also join my Southern Illinois Hiking & Outdoor Resources Group on Facebook, too!

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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!

Shawn Gossman

Shawn Gossman

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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