DescriptionIn the Shawnee Hills of southern Illinois, 277,506-acre Shawnee National Forest extends from the Mississippi River eastward to the Ohio. In sharp contrast to the level croplands of central Illinois, this region is characterized by hills and valleys, timber-producing land, scenic vistas and such wildlife as deer, foxes, waterfowl, turkeys and quails. A network of public roads and trails interlaces the forest, providing access to campgrounds, wildlife areas and unusual rock formations.
Hiking trails include the Rim Rock National Recreation Trail, a .7-mile circuit that winds past some of the state's most striking geological features; the .25-mile Garden of the Gods Trail, which explores 200 million-year-old rock formations; and the Bell Smith Springs Trail, which features caves and a natural bridge.
The forest contains the Illinois Iron Furnace, a 52-foot-tall structure built in 1837, used during the Civil War and reconstructed in 1967; interpretive panels denote the history of the site. For information contact the Forest Supervisor, 50 SR 145S, Harrisburg, IL 62946; phone (618) 253-7114 or (800) 699-6637.An audio tour by cellphone also is available.