Alto Pass – Illinois


Alto Pass, Illinois, a small town with a population of only around 400 people, is nestled in the rolling hills of the Shawnee National Forest. People often drive through this quaint town on the way to wineries or hiking spots located in Southern Illinois. But this quiet town holds a few attractions of its’ own.

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The first hidden gem of Alto Pass is scenic overlook along Skyline Drive known as Cliff View Park. There is a pull-off with a nice shelter. From here, you can see Bald Knob Cross which I will explain in more detail later.

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The second hidden gem of Alto Pass is actually directly beneath you from the overlook. There is a crack in the rocks where a stone staircase was built. This passage way leads to the Quetil Trail.

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The Quetil Trail is actually an old railroad bed from the late 1800’s which was abandoned around 1981. There is a sign in the center of town marking the trailhead.

The trail is flat and about a mile in length. I loved the shale rock formations that lined the trail as well as the large bluffs.

Our last stop for the day was the Bald Knob Cross. Standing at 111 feet tall on top of Bald Knob Mountain, the location of the cross provides one of the best views in the Shawnee National Forest. From here, you can even see the Smiley Face water tower near Giant City State Park!

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The cross itself is a pretty amazing structure. Around 2009, the cross was restored.

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We had planned to see the sunset from on top of Bald Knob Mountain, but we arrived a little early so after walking around and taking in the view, we headed back to our cabin.

We sure to check out Alto Pass while exploring the Shawnee National Forest!

Categories: Alto PassTags: , , , , , , ,

13 comments

  1. Love the silhouette photo! I’ve been to the Bald Knob Cross. Pretty impressive!

  2. Love that little trail. Thanks for a new place to visit!

  3. Very beautiful as usual! Would like to visit there 🙂

  4. Nice spot. I was out at the cave near there for a huge festival quite a few years back, but didn’t have time to stop in on this. Did I miss it though? Where is this cross? I remember passing a similar cross out on the Interestate.

    • Illinois has at least two large crosses, who knew?! The one you probably passed was the one in Effingham, IL which is clearly visible from Interstate 57. Thanks for the comment! Wonder what cave you were at 🤔?

      • Thanks for the response. I had no idea about the 2 crosses! The cave I was at… Shawnee Saltpetre Cave Theater. They used to do a lot of festivals there. I don’t know if they still do or not.

  5. That is really beautiful. Great photos!

  6. Nice, I will check your site out as you have shown places we could venture out to!

  7. What an awesome hike. The stone staircases look awesome. Unfortunately, Alto Pass is a fair ways away from the Coulee Region and I don’t get many opportunities to travel in that direction. Maybe one day. Thanks for sharing. It’s always nice to find other bloggers who love hiking as much as I do.

  8. We were here a few years ago. Very pretty!!

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