If you’re looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, hiking in southern Illinois is the perfect way to relax and recharge. When most people think of Illinois, they picture the skyscrapers of Chicago or the vast cornfields of the Midwest. However, southern Illinois is a hidden gem for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Southern Illinois is the perfect place for hikers because of its vast and diverse landscape. There are endless opportunities for hikers to explore rolling hills, dense forests, and pristine rivers and waterfalls. Plus, it’s home to some of the most scenic trails in the country. Keep reading to discover some of the best trails southern Illinois has to offer.
Shawnee National Forest
Shawnee National Forest is located in southern Illinois and is the state’s largest public land area. The forest offers over 300 miles of trails for hiking, camping, picnicking, and wildlife viewing. This sprawling forest covers more than 280,000 acres. The forest offers something for everyone, from easy nature hikes to challenging overnight backpacking trips.
And in the fall, the leaves change color to create a breathtaking landscape.
Garden of the Gods
Technically in Shawnee National Forest but completely worthy of it’s own headline! Discover Garden of the Gods, where hiking and photography enthusiasts will be captivated by a variety of wind-and rain sculpted sandstone formations that are sure to pique their interest. The landscape is absolutely breathtaking as you make your way up. This natural beauty will be sure to keep anyone captivated!
Ferne Clyffe State Park
The trails at Ferne Clyffe State Park wind through the forest, providing hikers with a view of a waterfall as it cascades over 100 feet into a large pool at the base of a sandstone cliff. Visitors can enjoy the18 well maintained hiking trails and maybe get a glimpse of the deer, raccoons, and hawks that call the park home. Trail descriptions for Ferne Cliff can be found here.
Giant City State Park
Giant City State Park is located in southern Illinois and features towering sandstone cliffs that provide views for miles around. The park offers 8 hiking trails up 12 miles in length. The Trillium Trail has lots of cool rock formations and the sandstone bluffs along the trail are very tall. Formed about 250 million years ago, the 80-100 foot bluffs provide interesting scenery along this favorite trail.
Cache River State Wildlife Area
Cache River State Wildlife Area is located in southern Illinois and features over 200 acres of wetlands that are home to a variety of plant and animal species. The wildlife area offers over 7 miles of trails for hiking, bird watching, and wildlife viewing.
Hikers will find a variety of ecosystems in the parks 3 units. There’s forested and river swamp, wetlands and bottomland hardwood forests as well!
Hiking in southern Illinois is definitely an amazing experience. There are so many different landscapes to choose from, and it’s a great way to get outside and enjoy nature. Whether you’re looking for wetlands, swamps, or forest, there’s definitely something for everyone in southern Illinois. So if you’re looking for a great hiking destination, be sure to check out southern Illinois!