Introducing Trail Pages

Find your way through southern Illinois!

Do you have trouble finding recreational-specific spots throughout southern Illinois? That is a current problem that we are facing. There are too many old un-updated websites out there giving us the wrong kind of information. A lack of information can ruin an outdoor recreational adventure as well as create safety hazards that we shouldn’t have to face…

The number one goal of Hiking with Shawn is to promote the Shawnee National Forest, our local state parks and outdoor recreational sites within the southern Illinois region. This had brought me to the decision to volunteer to be the information provider of the region. I pledge to create an all-in-one database to show the various types of outdoor recreational sites for various types of activities so that you can properly plan your next outdoor adventure…

Recreational Activities

Hiking with Shawn has always been a supporter of a multi-user forest meaning I support the use of the forest and recreational areas for all different types of recreational activities. However, the current websites listing sites fail to thoroughly include what activities are allowed what are not. For example, some obsolete websites state that mountain bikes are not allowed anywhere in the forest but official US Forest Service trailhead signs in the Shawnee make it clear that mountain biking is allowed within specific area. My goal is to show activities that are available in the forest, state parks and recreational areas. The activities I will list includes…

Cycling (Road & MTB)

Horseback Riding

Playgrounds & Parks

Butterfly Observation

Kayak & Canoeing

Handicap Accessible Sites


Beach & Swimming

Wildlife Viewing Area

BBQ & Picnicking

Campgrounds & Cabins

Fishing & Hunting

Legal ATV/ORV Sites

Hiking & Backpacking

Scenic Driving & Viewing

Trail Pages Features

Trail Pages will be like no other currently available website. I putting my own needs into this feature. I want a website that shows you where to go, how you should get there, what the conditions will be like, how hard it will be and updated information about the site…

Expect the following features on every trail page (activity page – may not always be a trail but the main feature is called, trail pages):

  • Directions
    • Google Map to exact location
    • GPS coordinates
    • Text-based driving directions from various cities
    • Updated information about site (washouts, close roads, etc.)
    • Parking lot information (for vehicles, bike racks, horse trailers, etc.)
  • Important information about site
    • Rules
    • Safety information
    • Important numbers and emergency information
    • Nearby fuel and eating places
    • Nearby hotels and camping areas
  • Media
    • Photos of area (updated)
    • Videos of area
  • Details
    • Information about area, what to do and see
    • Trail listings
    • Suggestions
    • Alternative activities at site (wildlife viewing, picnicking, etc.)
  • Alerts
    • Emergency alerts about area (as they are made available)
  • Resources
    • Additional links and resources for areas
  • Advertisements
    • Local-based related ads to help support the project

Check out my Trail Page Demo here to see what the pages will look like. Note: I’ve added a lot of silliness to the page just to make it entertaining, ha-ha.

Want To Help?

If you want to help me make this feature possible, I welcome you to contribute. Now many of you might think that I hike everyday based on the amount of videos I put out. The truth is, I mainly just hike on weekends attempting 3-4 hikes in a two day span in order to be able to provide a few videos each week. I sometimes go to state parks through the week to get some extra footage but I work overtime a lot at my job through the week and it restricts my weekly outdoor recreational activities. I also do not perform all the outdoor recreational activities that I wish to cover.

So I do need help if those you out there are willing to help… Here are some ways you can help:

  1. Hike or conduct covered outdoor recreational activities (driving, horseback riding, biking, birding, herping, etc.) and provide me with detailed articles about the area (how to get there, parking availability, trails, what to see, etc.) and contact me with such information to be included into the database.
  2. If you run a private campground/B&B/cabin areas, allow me to stay a night or weekend for free and I’ll not only make a video specifically as a review of your area on my YouTube channel but I’ll be able to better list your area on this database. Yeah, I’m asking for a freebie here but I can get the word out about your business, so what do you have to lose?
  3. You can contribute monetary donations to help my efforts by donating or by becoming a monthly supporter of Hiking with Shawn. Contact me for more details. Let me note that this is up to you, I’ll never expect you to do this – totally optional.
  4. Spread the word! Share this article with others and especially on your social media pages so that we can draw more people and organizations into it.

Look for this feature to fully launch by 2019!

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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