Are you a true outdoor enthusiast who enjoys wine tasting, hiking, biking, water sports, zip lineing, and much more?! The Shawnee National Forest encompasses more than 270,000 acres in southern Illinois and is home to outstanding natural areas which offer numerous outdoor activities. Bordered to the east and west by the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, the Shawnee National Forest flourishes with vegetation, wildlife, and recreational opportunities. On your visit to the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail enjoy the abundant recreational amenities within your reach!
Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour: Illinois' first entirely tree-based, eco-friendly zip line canopy tour, located on 83 wooded acres surrounded by the Shawnee National Forest. Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour consists of eight zip lines, the longest stretching more than 1,100 feet, which will zig zag across the property’s bluffs and through the valley. The tour also includes 11 platforms high in the trees, three aerial suspension bridges and two short ground hikes.A canopy tour is an exciting way to experience the flora, fauna, geology and history of the outdoors by safely traversing an established route of ziplines and aerial bridges between platforms built in the trees, and......they are just plain FUN!
Keller's Crossing at Stone Creek: Newly renovated, we offer a challenging and beautiful course carved out of a tree orchard on the edge of the Shawnee National Forest. With its naturally rolling hills, and remarkable views over the Giant City ravine, you're sure to enjoy your time with us. Enjoy fine dining, a special event or wedding, overnight stays and great, family hospitality, all at Keller's Crossing. Not only can we take care of the “guy’s golf trip”, but with all the amenities in the area, and our central location to them all, we are a perfect destination for the family as well!
Bald Knob Cross of Peace: A large white cross located in Alto Pass, Illinois, this structure is 111 feet tall, 22 feet square at the base, 16 feet square at the top with its arms extending 63 feet horizontally. It is visible, when lit at night, over an area of 7,500 square miles. The base of the cross is 1,034 feet above sea level with beautiful views of the Shawnee National Forest. Originally built in 1963, the inspirational messages, carved in granite, are still present on each of the four sides of the cross: Peace, Hope, Faith, Charity.
Pomona Natural Bridge: The Pomona Natural Bridge located in Pomona, Illinois is a great, quick hike for all ages. This hidden hiking treasure is a 15-30 minute drive from several southern Illinois towns and is a popular hike for Shawnee Hills Wine Trail guests.
Little Grand Canyon: Forget what you've heard about Illinois being nothing but flat prairie land. Tucked away along southern Illinois' scenic wine trail, the Little Grand Canyon offers a 365 foot climb from the canyon floor and a panoramic view of the Big Muddy River and the Mississippi floodplain. The 3.6 mile Little Grand Canyon Trail, which can take 3-4 hours to complete, starts off as an easy-going asphalt/gravel path along Hickory Ridge, the southern lip of the canyon. The ground drops off sharply on either side of the trail, allowing visitors to peer down on the oak and hickory forest from above. Several benches along the path give park-goers the opportunity to relax and enjoy the scenery at leisure.
Giant City Stables: Enjoy the beauty of Giant City State Park on horseback. All rides are guided by our experienced wranglers with our most popular ride being 3.2 miles long and lasting about one hour. Experience the beauty of our deeply wooded trails, creeks and small streams on horseback. Want to experience the wonders of the forest without breaking a sweat? Come see us and let our horses do the work. Reservations are recommended.
Tunnel Hill Bike Trail: Have a love for biking? Visit Tunnel Hill Bike Trail, home of nine scenic trail options, varying in length from 16 - 95 miles. The Tunnel Hill State Trail runs from Harrisburg to Karnak, Illinois and follows the former bed of a part of the Cairo and Vincennes Railroad, a transportation unit led during its early years by Civil War General Ambrose Burnside.
Jackson Falls: Wooded hills, winding trails and the beauty of sandstone rocks draw people to the area for a variety of activities including: hiking, rock climbing, mushroom hunting and nature viewing. Jackson Falls has the largest number of climbing routes in Illinois and offers great opportunities for technical climbing.
LaRue Pine Hills: LaRue Pine Hills is one of the most unique areas in the world. LaRue-Pine Hills is a protected area within the Shawnee National Forest. As the Big Muddy River flowed out from the uplands it was channelized between levees on it route to the Mississippi River. The channel that the river abandoned evolved into a swamp at the base of the Pine Hills Bluff, part of the Ozark Hills of Southern Illinois. Enough water made its way into the swamp to allow ash, red swamp maple, and cypress trees to take root. As with many places in the Shawnee National Forest,the beauty we see today is rooted in its geologic history. At LaRue-Pine Hills it took millions of years to form its bedrock before nature's erosive forces took over and created the 150-foot limestone bluffs that now rise out of the Mississippi floodplain. The rocks that make up the bluffs at LaRue-Pine Hills are Devonian age Bailey Limestone (over years these layers of shell deposits were pressed into rock. Once the sea receded, this bedrock was exposed to nature's erosive forces. Wind and water began to wear away the rock creating ridges and gullies, carving out the beautiful limestone rock formations of LaRue-Pine Hills and the 350-foot limestone bluffs that now rise out of the Mississippi floodplain. These massive bluffs extend roughly 5 miles along Highway 3 are as impressive today as they were to explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in 1803.
Garden of the Gods: More than 320 million years ago, the wind and rain patiently started to chisel away at large deposits of sedimentary rock located in what is now, Shawnee National Forest . Over the years, the elements have sculpted some of the most stunning and extraordinary rock formations known to man. This garden of sandstone sculptures and vast untouched wilderness was fittingly named Garden of the Gods.
Cache River Wetlands: Making up only 1.5% of the land area in Illinois, the Cache Basin harbors 11.5% of the State's high quality floodplain forests, 23% of its remaining high quality barrens habitat, and 91% of the state's high quality swamp/wetland communities. The area shelters 100 state threatened or endangered species and seven federally threatened or endangered species. The Cache River Wetlands are home to some of the oldest living trees east of the Mississippi River and includes three National Natural Landmarks. Designated a "Wetlands of International Importance", has put the Cache River Wetlands in the same ecological league as the Okefenokee Swamp and the Everglades.
Giant City State Park: With its breathtaking natural beauty and unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation, a trip to Giant City State Park near Carbondale is sure to delight visitors of all ages. From camping and horseback riding to fishing and rappelling, it's an outdoor lover's paradise. Visitors will marvel at the many wilderness trails. Especially popular is a hike on Giant City Nature Trail, home of the Giant City Streets; huge bluffs of sandstone formed 12,000 years ago.