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Hike & Climb at Jackson Falls

Simpson, Illinois



4.5 miles

Elevation Gain

410 ft

Route Type



Added by Lucas Bremer

Spend a day enjoying the best rock climbing area in Illinois.

The road into Jackson Falls is rough and sometimes has washouts. A high clearance or 4x4 vehicle are almost required.

Once you reach the parking or primitive camping area, take the short path to the top of the falls. It is close to only a 0.25 miles. This will give you a visual of the rest of the hike. 

There are two really nice waterfalls. The biggest one is just down the trail from the parking lot. This is a very short trail. But that's when you start to see what is down there. And if you want to really see, cross the creek and follow Trail #48C east along the bluff tops. About 0.25 miles down 48C, you'll come upon a small wooden bridge over the east falls. This fall is smaller than the first but still very nice after a rain. Cross over the bridge and start up the bluff line once again, but just 100 ft or so. Look right for the only way down into the bottom. You're going to have to climb down. This part is kinda dangerous. There are no stairs. There is no handrail. It looks terrible and daunting. It's really not as bad as it looks, but use extreme caution. The section may not be suitable for young children or those with mobility issues. Do not do it unless you're sure you can make it. Also, there are two emergency backboards with First Aid buckets attached. One is located at the bottom of where you climb down, and the other is located about a mile to the south on the east side bluffs. This is a very remote area. If you plan on climbing, keep these locations memorized!

So you made it down alive! Here's where wow starts. Some like to go right/north on Trail#49 and just hike to the falls. You'll see why. It is an easy hike from here to the base of the falls. Just follow the bluffs west. Take your time and explore.

You can either continue on the remainder of the full loop trail, or most come back the way they came once at the base of the falls.

Climbing within Jackson Falls:

Jackson Falls’ sandstone bluffs and free standing boulders create over 250 different climbing routes, the largest number of climbing routes in a single area in Illinois. 

Most of these routes are sport climbing routes and permanent anchors dot the edges of the falls. 

It is likely on nice days to see many others climbing and rappelling into the canyon. 

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Rock Climbing
Dog Friendly
Picnic Area

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Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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