Herod, Illinois

Hike the Garden of the Gods Observation Trail

1 Miles Total - Loop Trail

Originally added by Sunshine LeMontree

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.

Read More

Tags

Camping
Hiking
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Scenic
Wildlife

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Featured on the Quarter

Garden of the Gods was recently featured on the National Park series quarters. There is a good reason for it. It is possible the most scenic spot in Illinois.

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.

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.

Stay Nearby

Carmi, Illinois

Hidden Lake Farms Camping And Retreat Walnut Meadow

Pitch your tent on over 800 acres of isolated woodland and pastures at Hidden Lake Farms Camping and Retreat. Enjoy the seclusion and wilderness while conveniently located within 15-20 minutes from...

From $30/night

Kuttawa, Kentucky

Old Kuttawa

Overview Old Kuttawa Recreation Area is on the northern shores of Lake Barkley, near the narrow canal linking it to Kentucky Lake. Together, these two reservoirs combine to create one of the greate...

Benton, Illinois

Benton KOA

Kuttawa, Kentucky

Eureka

Overview Eureka Campground sits on Lake Barkley among wooded rolling hills and abundant wildlife. Fishing is a well-loved sport here; Kentucky's largest yellow bass was caught in these waters, and ...

Nearby Adventures

  • Explore the Arch of the Gods

    Hundreds of people will drive past this trail and arch on the weekends and never know they just drove past one of the best sights within the Garden of Gods Wilderness of the Shawnee National Forest. It is a few hundred feet off the road on the way...

    0.25 miles 50 ft gain

  • Visit Iron Furnace Historic Site

    Originally built in 1837, this thirty two foot tall structure was constructed on a limestone foundation and erected with limestone blocks quarried locally from the town of Cave-In-Rock. This iron furnace is the last remaining of its kind in Illino...

  • Hike to Indian Kitchen

    Designated a national natural landmark in 1980, Lusk Creek Canyon is the name of a 906-acre canyon located within the Lusk Creek Wilderness Area of the Shawnee National Forest in Pope County, Illinois. The Lusk Creek Canyon Nature Preserve and Nat...

    4.8 miles 192 ft gain

  • Hike to Burden Falls

    Located in the Shawnee National Forest, Burden Falls, though perhaps small by other standards, is among the highest in Illinois. There are many side trails to explore, making this a great spot for birders and photographers.Photo Credit: Curtis Abert

    3.5 miles