Tucked away in the rolling Shawnee Hills of southern Illinois is Rim Rock National Recreation Trail. Rim Rock Trail meanders along the edge of the bluff top, hence its name, and features vistas of a canyon below, remnants of pre-historic Native American life and diverse habitats.
Whether you’re looking for a place to picnic with your family, hike, study Native American culture or native ecosystems or just enjoy the peaceful beauty of nature, Rim Rock National Recreation Trail and picnic area is the place for you.
What you’ll notice…
One of the first features you reach is the infamous Ox-Lot Cave that besides European settlers, Native Americans were the first to use as it make a perfect natural shelter. Standing by the cave, you will feel the cool air rising from the opening and can stop to listen to the sounds of the water trickling from the base of the bluffs. All of this takes you back to the days when early settlers used the area to keep their livestock while logging the area.
While hiking the lower trail (a dirt surface), you will stroll along the base of impressive sandstone bluffs that tower above you with a close-up view of strange honey comb patterns in some areas and huge boulders that fell away from the bluff millions of years ago.
Consisting of more than 280,000 acres, the Shawnee National Forest lies in the rough, unglaciated areas of southern Illinois known as the Ozark and Shawnee Hills. Truly the heartland of the U.S., this region is where six natural ecological regions meet, resulting in a diversity of plant and animal species and unique geological features.
Amenities: Vault toilets and a picnic area with tables and pedestal grills.
Operating hours: Rim Rock Recreation Trail and picnic area open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. open year-round.
Nearest Town: Rim Rock is located approximately 23 miles south of Harrisburg, Ill.
Think safety: Trail tread may be slippery during or after rain or snow. Use caution when using the wooden staircase and stone steps leading to the canyon floor and Ox-Lot Cave. Be aware that large icicles form along the bluff walls during the winter months and the trail and staircase may be icy.
Accessibility: The picnic area and vault toilets are accessible; however portions of the Rim Rock Recreation Trail are not. For the accessible portion of the trail, take the left leg of the trail as you leave parking lot and trailhead.
Trail ethics: Stay on the designated trail. Rappelling and rock climbing are prohibited. Pack out what you pack in. Pets are allowed only on a leash.
37 36’ 8.76” N, 88 16’ 41.97” W