With more than 280,000 acres of diverse landscapes and 403 miles of hiking trails, the Shawnee National Forest is a perfect destination for a weekend away with friends or a romantic getaway with that special someone. In the cooler months, this must-see location offers adventure seekers and nature lovers a new, more intimate perspective of the beautiful, wintery outdoors of Southern Illinois.
From the rustic tree houses to stay in and the unparalleled outdoor adventures, here are the top attractions for a weekend getaway in the Shawnee National Forest:
Little Grand Canyon Trail
Take an exploratory hike for a break from the holiday frenzy. Feel the crunch of the crisp leaves beneath your feet as you travel along the 3.6-mile trail through rock walls, eroded sandstone canyons and craggy bluffs as you meander to the Little Grand Canyon itself. 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.
Garden of the Gods
No trip to Shawnee National Forest would be complete without a scenic hike to the Garden of Gods. With fewer leaves, the cooler months expose the dramatic rock formations and highlight the textured cliffs, offering a unique perspective of the forest. The breathtaking view from Garden of the Gods makes for the perfect destination for photographers and hikers.
Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour
Thrill seekers can elevate their weekend by soaring through the Shawnee National Forest on a Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour. Open Saturday and Sunday from December to March, you can experience the beauty of the wintery forest by zipping through its exposed bluffs and valleys.
Timber Ridge Outpost & Cabins
After a day of adventure, get cozy in an authentic log cabin or a unique treehouse nestled in the hills of the Shawnee National Forest. Surrounded by the beautiful woods, enjoy taking in the tranquility of being off the beaten path. Open year round and supplied with heat, there’s no reason not to enjoy the winter season outdoors.
For more trip inspiration, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.
-Illinois Office of Tourism