Hike the Garden of the Gods Observation Trail

Observation Trail, Garden of the Gods

Just 5 hours south of Chicago, explore a unique wilderness area characterized by fantastic rock formations, gorgeous forests, rivers and canyons.

In the southernmost part of Illinois, Shawnee National Forest is a wonderful natural area that transports you far from the flat agricultural landscape typical of so much of the Midwest. Located in the central area of the forest, Garden of the Gods is a 3,318-acre wilderness area characterized by unique rock formations, deep layers of forest, amazing views and fantastic hikes along rivers and through canyons. To gain your bearings, take the short Garden of the Gods Observation Trail. It's a quarter mile loop walk, paved with flagstones for easy accessibility, but it provides wonderful photo opportunities along the cliffs. Afterward, venture into the Garden of Gods Wilderness Area to explore. An all-year campground is located nearby, but camping is available for free throughout the wilderness area.

Pack List

  • Good shoes
  • Camera
  • Water bottle
If you are hiking through the Wilderness Area or on a nearby trail, bring:
  • Daypack
  • Plenty of water
  • Good shoes
  • Rain jacket
  • Snacks
  • Topographical map & compass
  • First aid kit
Show More
RT Distance 1 Miles
Activities Camping, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Scenic
Wildlife

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Short Trip with a Big Reward

My daughter and I decided on an impromptu weekend camping/hiking trip coming from Western Kentucky. The weather was great, location amazing and scenes are breathtaking. The area was mildly populated so we had time to take pictures without being rushed. We camped at the camp sites right down the road which was very clean and well-kept. (The outhouses could use cleaning a little more often though). The hike was very easy and we recommend a sunset hike. This a very short hike so you can squeeze in several short ones in a day.

Worth The Drive

One of the hidden gems of Illinois.

Good Time

A good place to go as a family. Tons more trails as well. Definitely will be going again soon!


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Nearby Adventures

More Nearby Adventures

Hike to Burden Falls

149 Saves

Climb Up the Trigg Observation Tower

96 Saves

Hike the Wilderness Lake Trail

139 Saves