Pope County, Illinois

Hike to Indian Kitchen

4.8 Miles Total - 192 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by Lucas Bremer

Take a walk under massive bluffs and alongside small waterfalls, and take in views over the canyon with in the Lusk Creek Wilderness Area in the Shawnee National Forest.

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 National Natural Landmark features an outstanding scenic view, also called Indian Kitchen. Rugged terrain and winding canyons characterize Lusk Creek, unusually diverse topography for Illinois. The Bear Branch Creek Trail follows Bear Branch Creek over small bluffs and alongside small waterfalls, and the views over the canyon are outstanding during winter.

After turning at Eddyville onto Indian Kitchen Road, go past the official trailhead and drive all the way to the very end of the road. The road dead-ends at Bear Branch Creek. There's parking for four or five cars there. Trail 405 to Indian Kitchen is right there on the east side of the road. A single path leads down to the bluff into the canyon, where you can get a good view of the canyon walls and Lusk Creek in a "Horseshoe Bend" of the river. You may encounter slippery surfaces and steep slopes, especially in wet conditions. Stay on the trail.

The Lusk Creek wilderness protects broad, relatively flat ridges and terraces overlooking narrow ravines and deep sandstone gulches. Throughout the landmark, you'll find sheltered caves, sinkholes, and sheer rock walls rising, at some points, 200 feet above the creeks. Lusk Creek is one of the state's highest quality streams. It runs year round. Anglers can fish the stream for bass and bluegill. You may find small tracts of old-growth timber and spring wildflowers, along with deer, turkey, and bobcat. The trail is sometimes shared with horseback riders, which tends to make the trail quite muddy.

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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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