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St. Louis, MO: Giant City State Park

This 9.8-mile loop covers the Shawnee National Forest essentials: lovely waterfalls, scenic sandstone cliffs, singing birds, and colorful wildflowers.

Rating

This difficult 9.8-mile loop samples the natural treasures of southern Illinois’ Giant City State Park, an area known for hard-rock stream erosion. Beginning at the south end of the main campground, head north to begin a clockwise loop past sandstone boulders, trickling streams, waterfalls, and wildflower-speckled bluffs and hollows. The Red Cedar Hiking trail passes beneath horse stables and crosses several equestrian paths before joining one for a bluff-side stretch where this loop turns south. For a longer backcountry trip, consider an overnight at the primitive campground near mile 5: it has picnic tables, pit toilets and fire rings.
After crossing Shiloh Road, the trail climbs toward maintained cropland before turning north and skirting a small, fish-stocked pond—catch spotted bass, bluegill and channel catfish in these murky waters. From the pond, it’s an easy 0.5 mile north back to the trailhead.
The trail is closed for a few weekends in early winter, so check conditions with the park at (618) 457-4836. There is no water along the trail, or at the primitive campground, so be prepared to carry all you’ll need for trip.
-Mapped by Ted Villaire

To Trailhead

From St. Louis, take I-64 east to I-57 south and drive 47 miles to IL-148 north. Follow IL-148 2.7 miles and turn left at Grassy Road. Grassy Road jogs south and west for 8.8 miles. At the T-junction, turn left onto Giant City Road and drive 2.9 miles to Beaver Lane. Turn left on Beaver Lane and drive 1 mile before turning right into the campground. The trailhead parking lot is on the campground’s south side.

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