Garden of the Gods National Recreation Area is one of Illinois’ most unique geological features. Located in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest, this is one of the most visited places in Southern Illinois. I am located in part of the state that is pretty flat and mostly farm fields so I feel lucky to have this amazing area just a few hours away.
We first hiked the Observation Trail. This trail is only ¼ mile long, but you can take hours exploring all over the rock formations. This is the most popular trail in the park for good reason. Panoramic views stretch forever over the southern Illinois landscape. The trees were just starting to turn when we visited.
Next, we hiked the Indian Point Trail. I feel like this trail probably does not get a lot of attention since it is over shadowed by the Observation Trail. This trail is a loop and just under 2 miles long. I loved the beginning of this trail. Tall pines tower overhead while pine needles cover the forest floor.
The trail ascends to the top of the bluffs and provides panoramic views similar to those on the Observation Trail. We even saw two buzzards roosting.
The trail then winds down underneath the bluffs you were just standing on top of. This part of the trail is really cool! There are crevices and notches in the bluffs to explore.
After Garden of the Gods, we drove a few miles down the road to Rim Rock. Be sure to check this area out as well if you are in the area! It is awesome!!!