, Illinois, indiana, kentucky, and tennessee

Garden of the Gods

About Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods is located in southern Illinois in the Shawnee National Forest. The Wilderness area is over 320 million years old and covers over 3,300 acres of beautiful old growth forest.. The sediment rock in this area is over 4 miles deep and the fractured bedrock has created some interesting rock formations that represent various objects.

Garden of the Gods has two main trail systems. The best known trail is the Observation Trail. It follows a .25 mile stone path that leads to some spectacular overlooks of the Garden of the Gods Wilderness area and views of unusual rock formations. This is an interpretive trail that has some interesting history about the geology of this area. There are other trails that lead to places such as Indian Point, Anvil Rock, Mushroom Rock and Big H. These trails combine for about 5.5 miles and are interconnecting. There are maps available at the park which is open year round.

view of camel back rock


Observation Trail

The second main trail that goes through this area is the River-to-River Trail. The trail enters the east end of the park from High Knob just below the camping area and proceeds west crossing the blacktop to the Observation Trail area. The River-to-River Trail then proceeds south below the rock formations, before bearing west again. It continues for 8 miles to Herod. When leaving Garden of the Gods, there is a good camping area about 1.5 miles west with a stream for water. No more water for 3 miles.

Interpretive trail (.25 miles) Easy

From the disabled parking area, continue up the ramps to the left past the bathroom facilities.

.01 Trail spurs to left to overlook of the south east.

.014 Overlook of Camel Rock and Monkey Face

.017 Trail descends, spur to the left leads to a tall narrow rock with a smaller rock wedged in between. Continue right.

.10 Spur to the left leads to the top of Camel Rock and Monkey Face and loops back to main trail.

.12 Trail continues to area for rock that has interesting iron deposit swirls called "Liesegange bands" The iron deposits in the rock did not erode as quickly as the surrounding rock, leaving the bands of iron in a swirling pattern.

.13 Trail comes to a wooden foot bridge that leads through a narrow passage in the rocks.

.15 Spur to the left to more rock formations. A bench to the right provides a resting place.

.17 Trail continues to the right past a post area for horses. A trail at the end of the gravel lot leads to Anvil, Mushroom and Noah's Rocks.

.21 Trail follows along parking lot to an information area.

.25 Returns to disabled parking lot.

Indian Point Overlook Trail (.66 miles one way, 1.7 loop) Easy

From the gravel lot at the backpackers parking lot.

.00 Trail begins at parking lot heading south.

.02 Small pond to your left.

.10 Trail splits, beginning of loop. Continue right for shortest distance to Indian Point.

.25 Trail levels off a bit.

.50 Trail turns up to the left toward Indian Point

.66 Indian Point. Nice place for campsite. Continue left to complete the loop

.82 Trail desends slowly to the right.

1.2 Trail loops back to the west.

1.6 Trail merger. Continue right to return to backpackers parking lot. Pond will be on your right.

1.7 Backpackers parking lot.

River-to-River Trail

Garden of the Godss to Rocky Top Overlook

0.00 Backpacker Parking Lot

0.60 Ascends merges with horse trail crosses road go left, short distance overlook of valley on left

0.90 Merge rt to observation parking lot, right to Herod

1.30 Big campsite with large fire ring, relatively flat

2.80 Steep ascent reveals medium sized campsite with overlook view

3.02 Large campsite with nice overlook view.

3.55 Campsite with overlook

4.67 Trail moves under rock face on the right

5.72 Trail junction, 001E is straight. Continue left toward Herod

6.31 Trail emerges on Gape Hollow road. Turn left

6.95 Trail intersects with state hwy 34. Turn Right

6.97 Turn left on Herod Rd and begin to climb

7.62 Continue left on Herod Rd. Gravel road becomes steeper, Williams Hill Rd to rt

8.83 At top of long ascent, turn left leaving road and follow white diamond with blue i mark.

9.0 Campsite to left of river, ford creek

9.9 Turn left at trail junction

10.1 Trail turns to the right begin to decend.

10.6 Merge with logging road, turn left then right heading south.

11.1 Horse camp with overlook

11.5 Benham Hill .25, continue on Logging road to left.

11.8 Benham Hill rd. left on gravel trail

12.2 Trail leaves Benham Rd. continuing to the left

13.4 Rocky Top overlook. Horse camp with amazing view. Great spot

Pharaoh Campground

Pharaoh campground is open year round and includes 12 sites. Facilities include picnic tables, fire pits, pit toilets, and drinking water. $10.00 fee. First come first served. Over night parking for backpackers is located at the backpackers parking lot, the first road on the left as you enter the park.

For more information call 618-253-7114 or 618-658-2111.

Illinios Contacts

Shawnee National Forest
Harrisburg, IL 62946
(618) 253-7114


Getting There

From Exit 54 at Interstate 57 and Illinois 13, drive 25 miles east on Illinois 13 to US 45 in Harrisburg. Turn right onto US 45 and drive south 1 mile to Illinois 34. Turn left onto Illinois 34 and drive 16 miles to Karbers Ridge Road. Turn left onto Karbers Ridge Road and drive 3 miles east to Illinois 10, turn right. Continue about 1 mile to Garden of the Gods Road, turn left. Look for Garden of the Gods Recreation area on your left.

From the south take Illinois 1 North to Cadiz Road. Turn left and continue west 6 miles to Karbers Ridge Road. Turn left and continue west for 4 miles to Illinois 10 (Garden of the Gods Road). Turn left for about 1 mile. Turn left into Garden of the Gods Recreation area.

More Garden of the Gods Links

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