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Hike the Giant City Nature Trail

Makanda, Illinois



1.1 miles

Elevation Gain

125 ft

Route Type



Added by Lucas Bremer

Explore the "City of Stone"

Pioneers had not seen skyscrapers, so these sheer bluffs seemed like the “streets of a giant city” to them. Thus became the naming of a pinnacle state park in Illinois. Giant City State Park is a paradise for hikers, climbers, campers, and lovers of nature. Parts of the park reminds you of the Missouri Ozarks or Cumberland Plateau rather than a piece of the "Prairie State" Illinois.

Begin the journey crossing the boardwalk bridge across a intermittent stream. Sandstone is not able to hold water year round the way streams in the Ozarks or Appalachian Mountains are so this stream through the park only has flowing water in wet seasons or after a recent down pour. 

Walking through a rich oak and hickory hardwood forest, the bluff lines of the "city" begin to come into view. 250 million years ago, this area was filled with sand dunes from a river delta that flowed into a shallow sea just a few miles to the south. Earthquakes formed the hills of today and caused fissures in the rock, and mixed with wind and rain that make for dramatic rock formations seen presently. "Fat Man Squeeze and Balanced Rock" are just a couple of the weird rocks one can explore.

Now in the "streets of the city" notice the graffiti here. It is not Native art work, but rather from early pioneers to the site. These 90 degree rock walls were carved here over 12,000 years ago during the last ice age when massive glaciers stopped their movement south near the park. Soon after the glaciers receded, humans began using these bluffs for shelter and cooking. 

This is the crown jewel experience of the state park and is easy for families to enjoy. Minimal elevation gain and a rock trail allow for  most people to trek the path. 

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Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
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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