Hike to Sand Cave

Rate this Adventure 1.2 miles 32 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Lucas Bremer

Take a hike back in time to a scenic stop on the Underground Railroad.

Shawnee National Forest played a crucial role in the Underground Railroad in the mid-19th century. As slaves escaped and headed north, the dense forest and rugged terrain offered natural hiding places. On the route through Pope County, Illinois, freedom seekers often used Sand Cave for shelter and protection.

The mouth of Sand Cave is nearly 30 feet wide and set into the rock approximately 100 feet.

The trail here is remote. There is no trail head and very little signage along the easily identifiable path. Follow the main trail back about a half mile to a small opening where a Natural Area sign cautions visitors about the rare and fragile ecosystem all around them. Shortly past this relatively open meadow-like area, the trail forks.

Follow the right trail around the edge of the bluff for another half mile and all of a sudden you will come upon the cave’s mouth. Hike the left trail to take a slightly longer trek through the glade and around to the Sand Cave entrance, but don’t stop there. Hike along the vertical cliffs just past the cave opening to a "fat man's squeeze", vertical walls with occasional waterfalls, and some small slot canyons. 

Read More

Tags

Photography
Hiking
Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

Have you done this adventure? Be the first to leave a review!

Stay Nearby

Calvert City, Kentucky

Paducah / I-24 / Kentucky Lake KOA

Benton, Illinois

Benton KOA

Benton, Illinois

Dale Miller Youth

Overview Congratulations! You've just discovered Rend Lake, the perfect place to enjoy a wide variety of activities, events and nature at its best. Even a short visit to Rend Lake will impress you ...

Benton, Illinois

South Marcum Campround

Overview Congratulations! You've just discovered Rend Lake, the perfect place to enjoy a wide variety of activities, events and nature at its best. Even a short visit to Rend Lake will impress you ...

Nearby Adventures

  • Hike Bell Smiths Springs

    Four separate trails make up the 8 miles of available hikes in the Bell Smith Springs National Natural Landmark. The dirt trails can be moderate to difficult in some areas. Please, stay on designated trails. The trails pass under large shelter blu...

    1.5 miles 164 ft gain

  • Hike & Climb at Jackson Falls

    The road into Jackson Falls is rough and sometimes has washouts. A high clearance or 4x4 vehicle are almost required. Once you reach the parking or primitive camping area, take the short path to the top of the falls. It is close to only a 0.25 mil...

    4.5 miles 410 ft gain

  • Paddle Millstone Lake

    Enjoy the seclusion of this 118-acre lake. After a few miles of unimproved rough road, you will arrive at the spill way of Millstone Lake. The remoteness alone is worth the trip. Kayak, Canoe, or SUP the lake and even extend it up a couple of mile...

  • Hike Millstone Bluff in the Shawnee National Forest

    Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this mile loop trail leads you along a bluff line to the ruins of a historic village of Woodland and Mississippian Native Americans.   Mississippian Natives established a village here between 100...

    1 miles 193 ft gain