The Seven Wonders of the Shawnee!
Dates:April 21 – 24 (Easter Weekend)
- Cave in Rock
- Garden of the Gods
- Ferne Clyffe Waterfall
- Heron Pond (Cache River Nature Area)
- Little Grand Canyon
- The Great Snake Migration of LaRue-Pine Hills
- Pomana Natural Bridge
The Shawnee National Forest is located in southern Illinois.The 7 wonders are either in the Shawnee National Forest itself or in state parks in the area.This is going to be a very fun, busy weekend.Hopefully, we will have time to visit all of the Seven Wonders.
Thursday, we will head to Cave in Rock State Park.Cave in Rock State Park is a 6 to 7 hours drive from Chicago depending on where you live.We will camp there Thursday and Friday Nights.($20 per night with electricity and $10 per night with no electricity. Hopefully, the showers will be open by then.).
Friday morning we will head to Garden of the Gods (30 to 40 minute Drive).We will spend the morning and early afternoon exploring the area.
Friday afternoon we will return and explore Cave in Rock State Park.
Saturday is moving day.We will be moving from the Ohio River side of the state to the Mississippi River side of the state.We will get up very early in the morning and break camp.We will head to Ferne Cliff Waterfall (1 hour and 15 minute Drive) for a short hike (1 mile).Then over to Hebon Pond (31 Minutes Drive) for another short hike (2.6 miles).
We will then head over to Pine Hill Campgrounds and set up camp (57 Minutes Drive) ($10 per night primitive camping: no showers, no electricity, pit toilets).
Early Saturday evening we will hike the Snake Migration Road.The choice will be to hike out and back the 2.5-mile road (Total of 5 miles.) or set cars and both ends of the road and only hike the 2.5 miles.
Sunday morning, we will break camp and head out.On the way home, we will stop at Pomano Natural Bridge (39 minutes) for a ½ mile hike. After that, we will head next door for the Little Grand Canyon for a 3.5-mile hike.
It is now time to head for home.It is another 6 to 7 hours drive back from the Little Grand Canyon depending on where you live in Chicago.
This is going to be a very busy weekend. You do not have to see all of the 7 wonders if you don't feel like it. I think this will be a great way to introduce people to the Shawnee National Forest. Make sure you bring a camera.
Cabins:If you are looking for cabins, here is a list of them.Remember we are traveling from one side of the state to the other on Saturday.You can try to book a cabin for Thursday and Friday on the east side of the state and book a cabin on the west side of the state on Saturday.Another option, will be to book a cabin for all 3 nights and only join us for ½ the weekend.
Cave in Rock:
#1 New State Park Rd.
Cave-In-Rock, IL 62919
Few natural formations are as awe-inspiring or intriguing as a cave. The deep, dark recesses immediately conjure up images of adventure, mystery, terror, robbers and pirates.
At Cave-In-Rock in southern Illinois, you can experience this fascination for yourself. Sitting atop the high bluffs overlooking the scenic Ohio River, the heavily wooded park is named for the 55-foot-wide cave that was carved out of the limestone rock by water thousands of years ago. Trails winding along the riverbank offer views of riverboats, barges and other river scenes.
Garden of the Gods:
Herod, IL 62947
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.
With its massive pillars of sandstone and scenic bluff overlooks, Garden of the Gods is one of the most inspiring views of the Midwest. A garden truly made for men, but of the gods.
Ferne Clyffe Waterfall
Rt.37, P.O. Box 10
Goreville, IL 62939
Ferne Clyffe has been known as an outstanding natural scenic spot for nearly 100 years. An abundance of ferns, unique geological features and unusual plant communities create an atmosphere that enhances the many recreational facilities offered at the park. Trails wind through picturesque woods, allowing visitors to view fascinating rock formations and inspiring vistas.
Impressive rock formations can be seen from almost all of the park trails, but two of the best-known sights are Hawks' Cave, a 150-foot-long shelter bluff, and a 100-foot-tall intermittent waterfall on the Big Rocky Hollow trail.
Heron Pond(Cache River Nature Area)
930 Sunflower Lane
Cache River State Natural Area is situated in southernmost Illinois within a floodplain carved long ago by glacial floodwater of the Ohio River. When the Ohio River adopted its present course, it left the Cache River to meander across rich and vast wetlands. Among the outstanding natural features found within the area today are massive cypress trees whose flared bases, called buttresses, exceed 40 feet circumference. Many are more than 1,000 years old, including one that has earned the title of state champion bald cypress because of its huge trunk girth, towering height, and heavily branched canopy.
It is within southern Illinois that north meets south and east meets west. With its diversity of soils, bedrock and landforms, the Cache River Valley contains four distinct ecological regions. Its hodgepodge of ecological factors has resulted in a collage of natural communities, each with its own unique assemblage of physical attributes, plants and animals.
Little Grand Canyon
Little Grand Canyon Rd
Pomona, IL 62975
Over time, erosion has carved this deep box canyon exposing its majestic bluffs. A cool and lush bottomland habitat thrives on the canyon floor. Along the upper portions of the trail visitors encounter expansive views of the colorful cliffs, the Big Muddy River and the Mississippi River floodplain. The canyon floor showcases seasonal waterfalls, large sandstone overhangs and towering beech and sycamore trees.
Known for its plant and animal diversity, this area is also a haven for many neotropical migratory songbirds during the spring and fall. Year round residents include raccoon, mink, fox, deer and bobcat along with several birds, amphibians and reptiles. The rock ledges serve as snake dens for the copperhead, cottonmouth, and timber rattler, along with a few nonpoisonous species. From the scenic overlooks, turkey vultures and hawks are often seen soaring over the treetops. In 1980 the Little Grand Canyon was designated a National Natural Landmark due to its unique ecological and geological features. The area contains a variety of natural communities, including upland forest, dry hill prairies and sandstone outcroppings, plus an extensive floodplain ecosystem at the bottom of the canyon.
The Great Snake Migration of LaRue-Pine Hills
Every year, spring and fall, a strange phenomenon takes place along LaRue Road on the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois. For two months during each of those seasons this stretch of road is a small-scale Serengeti Plain, that East African locale where enormous migrations of zebras and wildebeests take place. Only the creatures migrating here aren't equines or bovines. Nor for the most part do they even walk. They slither.
And though hundreds of snakes--some 35 species of them--comprise the bulk of the migration, they aren't the only animals to make the twice-annual trip. About 15 species of salamanders, newts, frogs, skinks, toads and lizards also summer in the 2,000 acres of swampland in Winters Pond and the adjoining Scatters, and hibernate in caves that are temperature-controlled by nature in the 350-foot-high limestone bluff.
Even turtles--aquatic types such as spiny softshells, red-eared sliders and snapping turtles, and the semi-aquatic box turtles--are seen on the road during the migration, though these animals burrow in for the winter rather than climb the bluff, noted Shawnee wildlife biologist Steve Widowski.
"The migration is a pretty impressive thing," he said. "You'll see more reptiles and amphibians here in one small location than anywhere else I know of, plus the scenery is pretty."Walk the road around April 15-20 or September 15-20 and you will see some 20 species of snakes. Just remember, don't kill that snake, as they are completely protected here!
Pomona Natural Bridge
Pomona, IL 62975
A short loop trail leads through a mature oak, hickory and beech forest. As the trail descends to the creek bottom an overlook reveals a view of the natural bridge from above. The bridge spans 90 feet. This easy 1/2-mile trail features a natural arch or ""bridge"" made of sandstone and millions of years of erosion. The trailhead signs explain the geology of the area.. A small shallow cave close by makes exploring fun for all ages!
This is a quick and easy hike with a high reward after a very short hike.Being located just off of the Southern Illinois Wine trail, this needs to be a must see for those visitors. This is a perfect hike to pepper in any hiking itinerary to the Shawnee National Forest and Southern Illinois area.
Pine Hills Campgrounds
Wolf Lake, IL62998