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Topic: Shawnee National Forest, Ideas< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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Mizzou11 Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 20 2012, 12:26 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I am planning on going to Shawnee National Forest this coming fall.  I was planning on going for 2/3 nights 3/4 days.  Anyone have any ideas on what trails would be ideal? I live in St. Louis so the closer to STL the better.  Thank you everyone for your help.
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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 20 2012, 7:25 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Shawnee National Forest and Giant City are adjoining, and there is the Stone Fort Nature Trail and Trillium Trail, and the Observation Trail by Garden of the Gods.
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Drift Woody Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 21 2012, 10:57 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Lots of information here.

I've done a lot of dayhiking in Shawnee National Forest, but not overnighters. If you're interested in a multi-day trek you might consider hiking a section of the River To River Trail, though you would need a shuttle.


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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 22 2012, 10:41 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

More or less the Shawnee National Forest is broken up into two main parts – the west and east.  Of course the west side would be closer to St. Louis.

The west side of the forest has several decent day hikes.  One of the more popular ones is Little Grand Canyon.  When I travel with my family, this is the kind of hiking I like to do.  It will take several hours to cover this hike, but you are rewarded all along the way with decent views and several small climbing adventures.   There is also Pomona Natural Bridge.  This is a very quick and short hike, but kind of a cool drive back to it.  You can do this one easily in under an hour.  

The east side of the forest in my opinion is better suited for hiking.  The most popular being Garden of the Gods.  There are a couple of trails there that are pretty good (short one and a long one).  If it was not so dry, I would suggest Burden Falls and Jackson Falls.  Even without rain, these places are pretty cool to explore.  The Millstone Bluff hike actually has Native American petroglyphs (1.5 miles total).  One of my all time favorites is Indian Kitchen at Eddyville.  It’s about 1.25 miles back in there and then opens up into a decent canyon (seriously try to hit this one 2.5 miles total).

If you want overnight backpacking in the Shawnee National Forest, head for the Lust Creek\ Indian Kitchen area or any part of the River to River trail.  The Lust Creek area is almost 7,000 acres of wilderness.  I’ve poked at this area for years, but never overnight.  When my kids get big enough we will be doing an overnighter :-)

If it were me,  I would hit one of the quick hikes on the west side (Pomona, Little grand canyon, Giant City) and then stop in Carbondale or Anna to stock up on food then make your way over to the East side.   This away it will break up the trip and make it more enjoyable.  On the way home, I would hit one of the small hikes on the west side again and then head back to St. Louis.

The West side does has the Southern Illinois Wine Trail if you’re into that stuff.

Sorry so long, I could talk all day about this subject.  Hope this helps!
Doug


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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 23 2012, 1:29 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

A few more gems in Shawnee not mentioned so far:
Ferne Clyffe State Park
Panthers Den
Bell Smith Springs

Like Jackson Falls & Burden Falls, Ferne Clyffe has a waterfall and is best visited after substantial rain.

If you visit Ferne Clyffe be sure not to miss Hawk's Cave, which is actually a large rockhouse (overhanging bluff) that curves almost perfectly enough to be a natural amphitheater. It's also very pretty on top of that bluff. On the trail to the waterfall hike along the bluff on the right for some easy & enjoyable scrambling, then take the trail that goes up that side of the bluff and skirts the canyon rim. Eventually the falls will come in view. You can cross the creek above the falls and find a route down into the canyon on the other side.


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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 24 2012, 10:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Man, it feels like I haven't been here in ages...

I'll second the notion that the east side (east of IL 51) offers better hiking opportunities. It's pretty accessible via I-24 or IL 13. Here are some of the best options:

(east to west)
Pounds Hollow: Very scenic with a deep canyon surrounded by high bluffs
Garden o Gods: Amazing rock formations. It’s worth a short bushwhack down toward Eagle Creek.

Lusk Creek: A fairly large wilderness with some cool bluffs, but more pleasant than spectacular. Would be great in the fall.

Bell Smith Springs + Burden Falls: Bell Smith has 10 miles of trail in 3 canyons, including a rock sluice, a waterfall, and an arch. Burden Falls is a short drive away. Nice campground at Bell Smith.

Jackson Falls + Double Branch Falls: Two dramatic waterfalls just east of Eddyville. Access TH from Mustang Drive.

Jackson Hollow/Bay Lake: Jackson Hollow has numerous bluffs which are very popular among rock climbers.

Ferne Clyffe State Park: Amazing cliffs and bluffs. The west unit has a dramatic pour-off waterfall and some of the highest bluffs in the state (if you can bushwhack to them).

Panther Den: Amazing set of bluffs on the east side of the canyon with large chunks of sandstone that have calved off and created passageways and tunnels among the rocks.

Giant City Park: The signature giant city trail is short but has huge rock formations. Across the road, the Devil’s Table trail has dramatic bluffs that offer some great scrambling on the edges.


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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 28 2012, 10:18 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I live here in the Shawnee, in my opinion the East side is prettier and has many more opportunities. I have many GPS coordinates and trailheads saved, im streched for time right now but will post them later if you would like.
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