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Shawnee National Forest

Last Update: January 10,2001
Murphysboro Ranger District
(Northwest Area)

2221 Walnut St. Murphysboro, IL 62966
(618) 687-1731 *TTY (618) 687-1726

Information on Hiking and Camping in the Shawnee National Forest is difficult to find. What is posted here is from many different sources, and whenever there was a difference is the information ( one source lists a trail as 15 miles and another list it as 12 miles.) I have listed both. More information is given about camping areas because there are no web sites with individual camp area information available. This page is under construction at the present time and the information presented here is only part of the available information. Updates will be added as time allows, please check back periodically for changes.

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge
(including Little Grassy and Devils Kitchen Lakes)
Location: Crab orchard Lake runs parallel to State Route 13, four miles east of Carbondale.

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is a vast area consisting of 34,000 acres with over 9,000 acres of lake water.  These lakes are the winter home for 120,000 Canadian Geese, and bald eagles come south to feed on the ice free lakes. A bird list is available from the refuge headquarters that identifies 245 bird species that visit these Mississippi Flyway man-made stopovers. Closed areas off limits to the public are posted with blue and white signs.

HIKING: Five trails total 8.4 miles. Chamnesstown School Trail - One mile self guided loop trail with 14 interpretive stops that describe forest ecology, migratory waterfowl, and wildlife management practices.

No Known Web Site


Cedar Lake Trail & Little Cedar Lake Trail
Cedar Lake / Pomona Natural Bridge

Location: south/southwest of Carbondale, Illinois, between route 51 and 127. (Pomona, IL.)

HIKING: Cedar Lake Trail runs 10 miles, with a 4 1/4-mile loop around Little Cedar Lake. Pomona Natural Bridge is a rock arch spanning 90 feet. (See BELOW) 50-75 [N-6] {}

Trail Character: Technical singletrack through hardwood and pine forest with several water crossings. Some doubletrack and fire roads intermixed. 9.8 miles.

Grades: Moderate to steep; Elevation ranging from 400' to 600'.

Trail Surface: Fire trails have good dirt and some gravel. Singletrack is packed dirt and technical rock.

Current usage: Moderate equestrian, moderate ATV, moderate hiking. Points of Interest: Cedar Lake, Pamona Natural Bridge.

Comments: (Mountain Bike) Blazing fast in dry season with many possibilities for serious injury. Stream crossings are notorious for snakebite punctures - bring a repair kit with plenty of patches and tubes as well as a first aid kit. In summer, rest on the natural bridge and take a dip in the lake.

Directions: From Murphysboro, IL, take route 127 south until the brown highway sign for Cedar Lake and Pomona Natural Bridge. Left (east) on to the gravel road towards Cedar Lake. Trailhead is located at the first pull off on the right (south) side of the road. Additional parking is available at the end of the gravel road near the boat launch.

No Known Web Site


Devil's Backbone Park

No Information Available
Kinkaid Lake Trail
Location: 5 miles west of Murphysboro, IL. Kinkaid Lake is 2,750 acres with a large, sandy beach. 150-60 [N-5,6]

Hiking: Kinkaid Lake Trail is the longest hiking trail in the Murphysboro District, following the south shoreline of the lake for 15 miles.

Trail Character: Technical singletrack through hardwood and pine forest with plenty of stream crossings and portages. 12 miles.

Trail Surface: Singletrack is dirt and technical rock.

Current usage: Moderate hiking. Points of Interest: Kinkaid Lake.

Comments: (Mountain Bike Riders) This trail is a real bruiser with plenty of portaging up, down and around large boulders. Be especially cautious of hunting season and wear bright colors and a bell on your seat.

Directions: State Trailhead - (Southeast Terminus) From Murphysboro, IL, take route 149 west to Spillway Road (if you reach route 3, you've gone about two miles too far). Right (north) on Spillway Road to the lake. Park at the bottom of the hill near the gate and ride up the gravel road to the top of the spillway. Trailhead is on the left next to a light pole. Be advised this access point is seldom supervised. Johnson Creek Trailhead - (Northwest Terminus) Trailside parking is located alongside S.R. 151, (approximately 3.6 miles south of Ava, Il.) at the entrance to the Johnson Creek Recreational area.

No Known Web Site


Johnson Creek Recreation Area

No Information Available
Johnson Creek Camground

DIRECTIONS - NEAREST CITY/TOWN: Murphysboro. From Ava, IL., on State Rt. 4, take State Rt. 151 south 3.6 miles to forest sign (Johnson Creek Recreation Area) - Johnson Creek Rd. Turn left onto Johnson Creek Road and go 1.5 miles to the campground.

SEASONS - Open All Year. RESERVATIONS: No. GENERAL COMMENTS - The elevation is 680 ft. The Campgorund is located near Kinkaid Lake and is situated in young hardwoods. Some sites are nicely terraced. Most tent sites are walk-in. There is also a group camping area that accommodates horses. Many hiking trails accessible from campground, but unidentifiable.

RATE AND MAXIMUM STAY PERMITTED- $5 per day - single occupancy, $5 per day - hike-in, $9 per day - double occupancy, $12 per day - triple occupnacy. Maximum Stay Permitted (days): 14

CAMPGROUND SITE CONFIGURATION - Total Sites: 55, Number of RV Sites: 0, Number of Tent Sites: 12, Number of Combined Sites (Tent or RV): 43, Tent Pads: Yes, Group Tent Sites: No, Open Sites: No, Wooded Sites: Yes.Number of Tables & Grilles on Sites: 54ea.

RV INFORMATION - No water or electricity, Group RV Sites, or RV Pull Throughs. Waste Station: Yes, Potable Water: at Waste Station. Largest Parking Apron Size: 12' X 72' Parking aprons are asphalt, gravel and grass.

BATH AND SHOWER FACILITIES - Vaults and Flush Toilets: Yes, (Flush toilets are at the beach.) Hot Showers: No

OTHER FACILITIES - No Laundry, Public Phone, or Recreation Room, Wheelchair Friendly: Yes. Number of Water Spigots: 7, Number of Threaded: 5.

WATER SPORTS - Lake, Boat Ramp, Swimming (provided). Boats allowed, Powered and non-powered Boats. No Sailing, Kayaking (whitewater), Rafting (whitewater), or Boat Carry Down Access.

FISHING - Largemouth Bass, Sunfish, Bullhead, Bluegill, Carp, Catfish, Walleye, Crappie and Musky.

No Known Web Site


Little Grand Canyon National Recreation Site
Location: From Murphysboro, IL. go south approximately 5 miles on S.R. 127 to Etherton junction and turn right/west. Follow Etherton road (C.R. 319, 316, & 307) to Popular Ridge where you continue on F.R. 346 to the Hickory Ridge lookout Tower. 150-70 [N-6]

Hiking: A 3.6-mile loop ranging in elivation from 350 to 700 feet and is marked both ways with white blazes. The trailhead begins to the right/north of of the parking lot and heads west along Viney Ridge on a graveled all weather path. at the end of the bluff the trail follows a descending water carved senic tributary side canyon to the flood plain below. The trail turns right once again and follows a floodplain forest path across small streams to another tributary side canyon. From here the trail heads up through the side canyon. Carved steps cut into the sandstone ledges provide a staircase up from the Little grand Canyon Floor. The final segment heads uphill to the parking lot.

Features: The little grand Canyon was carved over the centuries by a stream that is a mile-long tributary of the Big Muddy River. At the canyon's headwaters, waterfalls flow gracefully over steep sheer walls. Near the streams confluence with the river vista rich Chalk Bluff and Swallow Rock rise 230 feet above the flood plain. Be advised that the sandstone overhangs provide dens for Copperhead, Timber Rattlesnakes and Cottenmouth Watermoccasans, as well as several non poisonous species.

Camping: Nearest camping: FEDERAL - Turkey Bayou campground, directly acrossed the Big Muddy River, STATE - Giant City State Park or Lake Murphysboro State Park.

No Known Web Site


Oakwood Bottoms,Turkey Bayou & Fountain Bluff
Turkey Bayou Campground

UPDATE: 02/24/99
RANGER DISTRICT: Murphysboro NEAREST CITY/TOWN: Murphysboro. DIRECTIONS: From Murphysboro, IL, take State Rt. 149 west 9 miles to State Rt. 3. Turn left onto Rt. 3 and go 6 miles to campground sign (Oakwoods Bottom Rd.). Turn left onto Oakwoods Bottom Road and go 4.3 miles to the campground.

GENERAL COMMENTS - elevation 540 ft. The campground is adjacent to the Big Muddy River. In 1993 there was a major flood that put this campground about 20 feet underwater. As a result, most of the trees had to be cut down, leaving mostly an open campground. On the remaining trees one can clearly make out the high watermark.

RATE AND MAXIMUM STAY PERMITTED- $3 per day, Maximum Stay Permitted (days): 14

CAMPGROUND SITE CONFIGURATION - Total Sites: 15, all can be used for either tents or RV. No tent pads, group sites, or wooded sites. Open sites: Yes. Number of Tables & Grilles on Sites: 13.

RV INFORMATION - None of the following facilities are available. Full Hookups (includes waste), Water and Electric Only, Water Only, Electric Only, Group RV Sites, Waste Stations, or Potable Water at Waste Station. 1 RV Pull Through. The Largest Parking Apron Size: 15' X 59' Comments: Parking aprons are gravel and grass. There are waste stations located at the Johnson Creek Recreational Area and Murphysboro State Park campgrounds.

TOILET AND SHOWER FACILITIES - Vaults only, no Flush Toilets or Showers.

OTHER FACILITIES - Wheelchair Friendly Toilets, no Playground, Public Phone, or Water Spigots.

WATER SPORTS - No Lake, The water sports pertain to the Big Muddy River. Boat Ramp: Yes, Boat Carry Down Access: Yes, Power Boating: Yes, Boating (no power): Yes. No Swimming (provided), Sailing, Boating, Water Skiing, Rafting (whitewater), or Kayaking (whitewater).

HIKING - No hiking on site.

FISHING - Yes, Crappie and Channel Catfish

No Known Web Site


Panther Den Wilderness
Location: In Union and Williamson Counties, south of Crab Orchard Lake. Panther Den Wilderness offers some great opportunities to view some lakeside panoramas. Devils Kitchen Lake borders Panther Den Wilderness, making it a favorite for those who love the water. Trails for hiking and equestrian use will take you by some indications of past use by people including homestead, fruit trees, cemeteries and abandoned roads. Panther Den Wilderness received it's name from a rock formation known as the Panther Den that is located within the Wilderness area.

Parking, Trail Heads and Directions: Current parking adjacent to County Rd. (Panthers Den Rd.): Take Interstate 57 to Goreville exit number 40. Go west to Panthers Den Road.

No Known Web Site


Pomona Natural Bridge Recreation Area
Location: south/southwest of Carbondale, Illinois, west of S.R. 127. (Pomona, IL.) From Murphysboro take State route 127 south approximately 10 miles, and turn west on county road 28 and go one mile to the Pamona village center. Go North approximately 2 miles on F.R. 750 (Fire Road) (also called C.R. 214) to Pomona Natural Bridge Recreation Site.
Hiking: Pomona Bridge Trail is a 0.3 mile loop trail that travels through a woodland ravine leading to a stream crossing through a rock arch bridge 25 foot high and spanning 90 feet across.
Features: The natural rock bridge is one of the few east of the Mississippi River, and the north side of the bridge was at one time a cliff face. There are benches and overlooks provided to stop, rest and view the rock formations and beautiful ravine surroundings. The River to River Trail passes approximately a mile south of the bridge.

No Known Web Site