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Readers’ Choice Midwest Hikes: Garden of the Gods to Lusk Creek Canyon, Shawnee NF, IL

Hike the River-to-River Trail over rugged ridges, through narrow canyons, and into small caves.
midwest rc garden 445x260Garden of the Gods to Lusk Creek Canyon, Shawnee FL, IL (Terry Donnelly)

Day two Gain the ridge and continue west for 3.3 miles to Concord Cemetery, a pioneer-era graveyard. After 4.5 miles, you’ll descend into Lusk Creek Canyon, which is walled in by 100-foot bluffs. Stash your pack to sidehike two miles south along the creek to a sharp left curve. Here, a collapsed stone wall and narrow trail lead to Indian Kitchen, a large niche in the rocks 100 feet above the stream believed to be an ancient Shawneee cooking area. “You could spend a whole day here just exploring all of the side canyons,” notes John Heneghan. Head back to the main trail and turn left for the 4.3-mile stroll back to the Lusk Creek trailhead.


PLAN IT
Driving From St. Louis, take I-64 east for 75 miles to I-57, then head south for 43 miles to exit 54A. Take IL 13 east for 24 miles to IL 34; go south for 15 miles to a left on Karber’s Ridge Rd. and the Garden of the Gods parking area.
Map and Guide USGS quads: Herod, Eddyville ($9, store.usgs.gov); River-to-River Trail Guide ($20; rivertorivertrail.com)
Contact (618) 253-7114, fs.fed.us/r9/forests/shawnee

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