Camp in the Trail of Tears State Forest

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Added by Lucas Bremer

Enjoy the solitude of Illinois' Ozark Hills.

Trail of Tears State Forest lies within one of the most rugged landscapes in Illinois. The hills are steep, and the soil is shallow and susceptible to erosion. Cliffs are all around and streams with gravel bottoms are in the narrow forest filled valleys.

In 1838-39 the Cherokee, Creek, and Chickasaw nations were forced by the U.S. Army to move from the southeast to reservations in Oklahoma Territory. They wintered here in primitive camps. Bitter cold and starvation claimed hundreds of lives. The cruel trek came to be known as the "Trail of Tears." The State Forest's name memorializes the tragic event.

The CCC constructed many of the stonework stabilization walls and log stone shelters within the picnic area and along the Forest roads.

The Trail of Tears State Forest of today encompasses 5114 acres administered by the Illinois Division of Land Management. The nursery is operated by the Division of Forest Resources.

Both Class C (tent camping with vehicle access) and Class D (backpack) camping sites are available at the State Forest. Some locations have log shelters with adjacent privies. Group camping is available at a few sites. The forest's gravel roads are closed to vehicles from December 24 through the end of the spring wild turkey hunting season (generally the second week in May). All camping access is by foot only during that period (Class D). 

More information on camping and enjoying the state forest can be found here.

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Chillin
Camping
Mountain Biking
Running
Backpacking
Hiking
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Groups
Handicap Accessible
Picnic Area
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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Leave No Trace

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

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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