The unique and diverse natural wonders of the Shawnee National Forest make it a popular destination vacation point for visitors and residents of Illinois. The forest extends over 270,000 acres of mountaintops and rugged rock formations between the borders of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. The terrain of the Shawnee National Forest, which has five different ecological regions, is distinctly different than the typical flat Midwestern regions.
The maple, dogwood, oak and pine trees that are interspersed among the unique sandstone configurations characterize the Shawnee National Forest. As such, it is a popular rock-climbing destination. The forest also features are variety of lakes, 135 miles of hiking trails, and a number of campgrounds. Shawnee National Forest in Illinois is famous for the River-to-River Trail, which runs along the area between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. This scenic path encompasses about 160 miles of moderate to difficult terrain. It usually takes about 14 days to complete. At the western end of the trail, the River-to-River connects with the American Discovery Trail.
Williams Hill, which is located in the western part of the Shawnee National Forest in Illinois, is a popular biking destination. The trail is rated between moderate and steep. It includes both packed-down fire trails as well as single-track dirt paths.
Campgrounds: Shawnee National Forest
If you are visiting the Garden of the Gods in the Shawnee National Forest, you might want to stay at the Pharaoh Campgrounds. These unique sites are nestled in the Shawnee Hills and provide a great look at the unique topography of the Garden of the Gods Wilderness. The Pharaoh Campgrounds Shawnee National Forest also provides easy access to the Garden of Gods Observation Trail, as well as a variety of other attractions that include Camel Rock and Devil's Smokestack.
The Pine Ridge Campgrounds have four sections. They are convenient to Shawnee Hills on the Ohio Scenic Byway. There is also swimming beach, boating on the lake, good fishing, several hiking trails, interesting geology to explore, and hot showers. This campground is highly recommended for family vacations.
If you enjoy horseback riding, consider the Johnson Creek Campgrounds located in Ava Illinois. These campsites feature hitching rails and picket lines for equestrian campers. The tent sites are located along Lake Kincaid, which also makes them an excellent location for anglers.
Whether you are planning an Illinois, hiking, biking, camping or angling trip, the Shawnee National Forest has much to offer. Even if you spend most of your Illinois vacation in the urban environments of Chicago or Springfield, the Shawnee National Forest in Illinois is a great place to spend a few days of rest and relaxation.