Garden of the Gods Wilderness Area
The Garden of the Gods Wilderness Area contains rock formations, canyons, bluffs and ridges carved by millions of years of wind and water. Breathtaking views of the rolling forest below can be admired from the massive sandstone formations along the ridge tops. All seasons have their special charm at Garden of the Gods, but the intense mosaic of colors in autumn is especially appealing. Below the bluffs, the hiking is easy and quiet through the hardwood trees, intermittent creeks, and moss-covered sandstone outcrops.
From Harrisburg, IL take U.S. 45 south to State Rte. 145. Follow this road about 5 miles to Mitchellsville, IL and pick up State Rte. 34 through Herod to Karbers Ridge blacktop; turn left (east) to County Road 10; turn left (north) two miles to the entrance road.
Several trails run through the area including a several mile stretch of the River-to-River trail. All visits should begin with the 1/4-mile interpretive, Obersvation Trail, for an overview of the natural history and fanscinating geology of the area. Backcountry hiking and camping are allowed. Camping is also available at the Pharaoh Campground (located within the Recreation Area boundary). Its 12 campsites, drinking water, and pit toilets for $5/night make it a popular place to camp for day hikes into the area, or as a starting point for backpacking along the River-to-River Trail. The Recreation Area even offers a backpackers parking lot with a spur trail leading to the River-to-River Trail.
Use the Herod and Eddyville topographic quadrangle maps for Garden of the Gods Wilderness.Trails maps should be availble at a trail head kiosk off the main parking lot. More information about Garden of the Gods Wildenress Area can be obtained from the Shawnee National Forest headquarters in Harrisburg, IL.