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