Giant City State Park – A Snap Shot

Lindsay + Tim Stockhecke

With the vast nature of the Shawnee National Forest spanning 289,000 acres across the most southern part of Illinois, Giant City State Park, located within SNF, is a great option for visitors looking for a self-contained park with a clear entrance and trails all within close proximity of one another. Located just fourteen miles from Murphysboro Mainstreet, this park is host to a restaurant, thirty cabins (with a pool), visitors center, horseback riding rental, camping and ample recreational activities.

What to expect

  1. Hiking Trails | Eight trails are woven throughout the park, each well-marked and providing unique experiences depending on what you are looking to enjoy.
    • Giant City Nature Trail
      • Home to the ‘Giant City Streets’ this moderate one mile trail is a fan fave with towering sandstone bluffs.
    • Trillium Trail
      • Well known for wildflower walks in the spring, this 1.2 mile loop is easy but with 250′ bluffs caution is your friend.
    • Devil’s Standtable Trail
      • While only a .3 mile loop, this trail features lots of rock formations and nooks and crannies ripe for exploring. Additionally, you can take this trail further to connect with the Post Oak Trail.
    • Post Oak Trail
      • This .8 mile trail can be accessed, as mentioned, from above or below. The top of this loop is a paved trail with views from wooden platforms.
    • Indian Creek Shelter Nature Trail
      • This .7 mile trail loops through the forest, over multiple wooden bridges, and leads to a bluff shelter that creates a waterfall during and after rainfall.
    • Stone Fort Trial
      • This .3 mile trail has you walk parallel to a stair-stepping creek (expect minimal water unless recent rainfall), leading to an ancient rock wall made by early humans. With an eighty-foot bluff, the views are stunning but proceed with caution.
    • Red Cedar Trail
      • This 10.8 mile hike is one we have yet to take and has been reported to have poor markings. Be sure to plan ahead for this moderate trail.
    • Arrow Wood Interpretive Trail
      • This sweet and easy trail is a great accompaniment to a stop into the visitors center as its right beside it. It has signage along the way to help identify the variety of flora and fauna present.
  2. Pavilions/Shelters | There are five shelters available for use and can be reserved ahead of time for gatherings and events. They each have different amenities outlined here,.
  3. The Giant City Water Tower + Observation Deck
    • Spiral 123 stairs to the top for a 360-degree birdseye view of the forest below.
  4. Dining + Lodging
    • Giant City Lodge
      • Built in the 1930s this rustic restaurant is known for their family style offerings, providing cozy ambiance and flavor. Be sure to head upstairs to enjoy a game of checkers.
        • Choose between Historic, Prairie, or Bluff Cabins nestled amongst rock formations and lush forests. You may even recognize one of the 30 cabins as the 2014 Ben Affleck thriller Gone Girl shot several scenes here.
    • Makanda Inn
    • Southern Illinois Vacation Rentals
      • In addition to their many rentals throughout Southern Illinois, SIVR has four rentals located within a few miles of the park, just be sure to select the Makanda Area option.
  5. Makanda Boardwalk

If planning to visit Southern Illinois, Giant City State Park should top of the list for those from all walks of life.

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