With the beautiful backdrop of the Shawnee National Forest, outdoor adventures abound in Southernmost Illinois.   An abundance of scenic hikes, easy to challenging, offer beautiful views.  

Shawnee Forest Country offers hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing, and some great bike riding.   Mountain bike enthusiasts are always on the lookout for great trails, and the terrain in Southern Illinois is perfect for the sport. 

Bring your bike, or rent one along the 50 mile Tunnel Hill Trail; An old railway converted bike path, The Tunnel Hill State Trail winds through farmland, thick woods, lush wetlands and a tunnel for which it was named. 

Venture out on moderately rugged mountain bike trails that include creek crossings, switchbacks, hilly and rocky terrain.   Bikers  now have access to 19 miles of trail between Lake Glendale Recreation Area and Dixon Springs State Parkas well as 10-mile trail system for mountain biking, hiking, and running at the Touch of Nature Environmental Center near Makanda, IL.  

Outdoor Adventure

 Rock climbing, repelling and bouldering is a natural draw because the area has the highest density of quality stone.  Fly through the Shawnee Forest Canopy with Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tours, an exhilarating 3 hour adventure through the trees with 8 zip lines and 2 suspension bridges. 

Breathtaking natural beauty and great opportunities for outdoor recreation, a trip to Giant City State Park near Makanda is sure to delight. You will love the many hiking trails.  Especially popular is the Giant City Nature Trail, home of the “Giant City Streets” – huge bluffs of sandstone formed 12,000 years ago.   Climb the spiral stairs of the 82-foot, water tower with a 50-foot observation deck that provides memorable panoramic views.

 Bring your canoe or kayak, or rent one to paddle on lakes and creeks, or experience the Cache River Wetlands.   Bring your horse or rent one and enjoy the miles of equestrian trails.

 Don’t miss the Garden of Gods–rock formations sculpted patiently over time by wind and rain.   Follow the popular Observation Trail where awesome views can be found.  

Take the Shawnee Challenge, it’s free and fun, as you earn points to redeem for prizes.  A self-supported, complete at your own pace outdoor challenge to experience different parts of the Shawnee National Forest in the ways you prefer: hiking, paddling, on horseback or mountain biking. This challenge is not a stroll in the park. It is for those looking to get off the beaten path, and reconnect with nature. Many of the locations have limited, or no services. Part of the challenge is to ‘pack it in and pack it out’ – a ‘leave no trace’ adventure.

Read Also: IDAHO FALLS – Where Great Adventure Begins

Enjoy  the rolling Southern Illinois countryside where you can sip your way along and discover truly surprising and authentic wine culture on the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail.

Bed and Breakfasts dot the region and are great launching pads for wine tasting, hiking or biking enthusiasts. Cabins in the area can offer a secluded getaway, some that are pet friendly and some with hot tubs.    www.southernmostillinois.com 1-800-C-IT-HERE