Hiking with Shawn’s
Trail Guide Series:
Wildcat Bluff is a nestled little gem of the Cache River State Natural Area managed by Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Located in rural Johnson County, Illinois-this amazing place offers hikers views of beautiful overlooks, bluffs and healthy managed forest, glades and swampland. Wildcat Bluff is great area to see wildlife such as snakes, frogs, lizards, birds and mammals. There are some good hiking trails that will allow visitors to see all sorts of different sites. Visit Wildcat Bluff today and explore your public lands.
This area contains designated trails for hiking only. Motor vehicles, bicycles and equestrians are prohibited from the trails at this location. There is adequate parking available at the trailhead for about 6 to 8 vehicles. The trailhead includes and information kiosk with a map of the area and important information concerning your use of the area. There are no potable water sources or restrooms available at Wildcat Bluff. Cell phone signal will likely be scarce – please exercise caution when visiting this area.
Directions and Trails
Located in rural Johnson County, Wildcat Bluff can be found at the end of Wildcat Bluff Road. See this map to get an idea of where this site is located. At the end of the road, there will be a parking lot to your left. Please respect the private property around Wildcat Bluff by staying on designated trails, especially in the nature and wildlife preserve portion of the area.
From the trailhead (with the information sign), with the road behind you and the bluff edge in front of you, there are 2 trail options. You can go left or you can go right.
Left will take you to an overlook where you can see the Cache River Basin and the woodlands that surround it. It is about 1 mile out and back with some hilly conditions. I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t already.
Going down the trail to the right of the trailhead will take you up, down and winding through the Cache River State Natural Area. If the river is low, you can cross it using the concrete pillars put in place to cross. Please use caution as this area can be deep with a strong current. After crossing the river safely, you can continue to reach Bost Cabin, a small two-room cabin built by some of the first pioneer settlers in the area. Continue past the railroad crossing (please use caution at this unprotected crossing), you can continue to Little Black Slough and Boss Island which feature swampland views. You can continue to get to Tupelo Trail, Heron Pond and even the Cache River HQ which also features nature viewing. Overall mileage can be long pending on how far you go.
There are user trails to the bottom of the bluffs at Wildcat Bluff, but these trails are not official or maintained. Please note that venomous snakes occur in this area and going off the designated trail will likely increase your encounter with the snakes including copperhead and cottonmouth snakes.
Please call 911 for emergency assistance in terms of medical, fire and law enforcement.
The nearest hospitals to Wildcat Bluff are in Anna and Metropolis, both equaling to about 20 to 25-miles from the trailhead.
Poison ivy occurs in this area.
Venomous snakes, including copperhead and cottonmouth, occur in this specific area.
During heavy rainfall, this area is subject to flooding and flash-flooding around the river and lower portions of the natural area.
Please use caution during hunting seasons.
Dangerous areas exist at Wildcat Bluff including high bluffs where falls will likely result in serious injuries to even death. Please use at your own risk and always put safety first.
Leave with good memories, not bad injuries!
Other Stuff Around Here
For camping nearby of Wildcat Bluff, check out Shawnee Forest Campground in Vienna for tent and RV sites with electrical hookup sites. While in Vienna, check out our favorite places to eat Wildfires Steakhouse which happens to be the old Ranger Station and Ned’s Shed for some awesome burgers. Other nearby outdoor recreation areas include Heron Pond for hiking and nature viewing, Dutchman Lake for boating and fishing and Tunnel Hill State Trail for cycling and running.
Watch the videos for this trail!
Below is a recent video that we filmed while enjoying this area.
One last thing!
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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.