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U.S. Forest Service

Eastern Region Viewing Area


Stone staircase. The lower portion of the descending trail. The Civilian Conservation Corps constructed this staircase in the 1930s. Photo by Kathy Phelps.

Trail passing through blocks of sandstone. The middle portion of the descending trail takes hikers through narrow "streets" bordered by the cliff face and an extremely large block of sandstone that broke away from the cliff. Photo by Kathy Phelps.

Staircase leading through a narrow passageway between massive blocks of sandstone. The upper staircase leads hikers down through a narrow passageway between massive blocks of sandstone. Photo by Kathy Phelps.

Upper Rim Rock Trail. The upper Rim Rock Trail is accessible. The Civilian Conservation Corps built this sidewalk. Photo by Kathy Phelps

Pounds Hollow Ecological Area

Forest: Shawnee National Forest

District: Hidden Springs Ranger District

Description: Pounds Hollow Recreation Area is a popular destination for wildflower enthusiasts, hikers, picnickers, and folks who enjoy swimming and relaxing on a beach. There are two interesting trails that traverse the area allowing visitors to experience a wide variety of natural communities and marvelous geological settings, such as sandstone glades and cliffs, and a sandstone canyon with a gentle stream flowing through the canyon and into Pounds Hollow Lake. Rim Rock National Recreation Trail has a separate parking lot just west of the entrance to Pounds Hollow Recreation Area. From Rim Rock trail visitors can descend the tall cliff face by means of a staircase that takes you through a narrow pathway between giant sandstone cliffs. Natural communities include sandstone glades; sandstone cliffs; xeric, dry, dry-mesic, and mesic upland forests.

Viewing Information: Throughout the year numerous wildflowers can be seen throughout this beautiful area. Wildflowers in the sandstone glades and xeric forests include common blue violet (Viola sororia), small bluets (Houstonia crassifolia), dwarf dandelion (Krigia virginica), pussy-toes (Antennaria plantaginifolia), violet wood-sorrel (Oxalis violacea), false garlic (Nothoscordum bivalve), glade wild petunia (Ruellia humilis), prickly pear (Opuntia humifusa), yellow star grass (Hypoxis hirsuta), widow’s cross (Sedum pulchellum), goat’s rue (Tephrosia virginiana), rough buttonweed (Dioidea teres), and rushfoil (Crotonopsis elliptica).

The oak forests of the dry and dry mesic upland forests are dominated by black oak (Quercus velutina), white oak (Quercus alba), post oak (Quercus stellata), and hickories (Carya glabra, Carya tomentose). Wildflowers commonly encountered include Indian physic (Gillenia trifoliata), dittany (Cunila origanoides), St. Andrew’s cross (Hypericum hypericoides), Beebalm (Monarda bradburiana), mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Virginia spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana), and hog peanut (Amphicarpa bracteata).

Hepatica Hepatica is one of the earliest spring wildflowers to bloom in Pounds Hollow. The color is generally white but one will observe blue flowers occasionally. Photo by Kathy Phelps.

Gnarly eastern red cedars. Very old, gnarly eastern red cedars such as this specimen can be seen on the upper Rim Rock Trail. Photo by Kathy Phelps.

Aster patens. Autumn comes alive with many wildflowers like this spreading aster (Aster patens), being pollinated by a native bee. Photo by Kathy Phelps.

Woodsia obtusa. Bluntlobe cliff fern (Woodsia obtusa) is just one of the many different species of fern to occur at the Pounds Hollow Ecological Area. Photo by Kathy Phelps.

The mesic forests of Pounds Hollow are dominated by beech (Fagus grandifolia), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), red oak (Quercus rubra), white oak (Quercus alba), and yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera). Wildflowers commonly encountered include Squirrel corn (Dicentra canadensis), dwarf larkspur (Delphinium tricorne), Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium reptans), wake robin (Trillium recurvatum), downy yellow violet (Viola pubescens), false Solomon’s seal (Smilacina racemosa), and large-flowered bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora). Many ferns are also encountered including rattlesnake fern (Botrychium virginianum), Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), marginal shield fern (Dryopteris marginalis), and common polypody (Polypodium virginianum). Spring flowering shrubs and small trees encountered across Pounds Hollow include blue beech (Carpinus caroliniana), ironwood (Ostrya virginiana), winged elm (Ulmus alatus), black haw (Viburnum prunifolium), low-bush blueberry (Vacinium vacillans), serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea), farkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum), redbud (Cercis canadensis), and flowering dogwood (Cornus florida).

In autumn the forest and glade communities are characterized by members of the aster family such as elm-leaved goldenrod (Solidago ulmifolia), gray goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis), blue-stemmed goldenrod (Solidago caesia), bristly sunflower (Helianthus hirsutus), woodland sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus), frostweed aster (Aster pilosus), spreading aster (Aster patens), smooth aster (Aster laevis), boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), white snakeroot (Eupatorium serotinum), black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirsuta), and various other woodland asters (Aster spp.) will delight visitors into late October.

Safety First: Be prepared in spring, summer and autumn for rapid changes in weather as thunderstorms may develop rapidly. Timber rattlesnakes and copperheads may occasionally be present so please stay alert. None of these snakes tend to be aggressive but they will defend themselves if stepped on or threatened at close range. Just watch the ground as you walk and you should not have any problems. Be aware of pedestrians in the parking areas. Summer temperatures can be high, 90 to 100 F but are generally less in the mesic forests and canyon floor along the creeks. Bring plenty of bottled water as creek water is not suitable for drinking. Wear appropriate clothing for the outdoors. Be sure to bring sunscreen and insect repellant. Wood ticks are always present, except for winter months. Be sure to check yourself out for ticks after you visit. Poison ivy is common; remember, "Leaves of three let it be!"

Directions: From Harrisburg, take IL 145 south until the intersection with IL 34. Turn left onto IL 34. Continue on IL 34 through the small village of Herod. Just south of Herod turn left onto County route 9 (Karber's Ridge/Pounds Hollow Road). Continue on route 4 through the small community of Karbers Ridge. Continue on County route 13 (Pounds Hollow Road). After several miles you will first encounter the entrance (on the left) to Rim Rock and further down Pounds Hollow Road you will come to the entrance (on the left) to Pounds Hollow Recreation Area.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Shawnee National Forest, Hidden Springs Ranger District.

Closest Town: Karbers Ridge, Illinois.

Photo Gallery

Aquilegia canadensis, red columbine habitat.. Aquilegia canadensis, red columbine. Photo by Larry Stritch.

Asarum canadense, wild ginger. Asarum canadense, wild ginger. Photo by Larry Stritch.

Asclepias tuberosa, butterfly weed. Asclepias tuberosa, butterfly weed. Photo by Larry Stritch.

Delphinium tricorne, dwarf larkspur. Delphinium tricorne, dwarf larkspur. Photo by Larry Stritch.

Eupatorium perfoliatum, boneset. Eupatorium perfoliatum, boneset. Photo by Larry Stritch.

Geranium maculatum, wild geranium. Geranium maculatum, wild geranium. Photo by Larry Stritch.

Monarda fistulosa, bee balm. Monarda fistulosa, bee balm. Photo by Larry Stritch.

Parthenium integrifolium, American feverfew. Parthenium integrifolium, American feverfew. Larry Stritch.

Phlox divaricata, woodland blue phlox. Phlox divaricata, woodland blue phlox. Photo by Larry Stritch.

Podophyllum peltatum, May apple. Podophyllum peltatum, May apple. Photo by Larry Stritch.

Sanguinaria canadensis, bloodroot. Sanguinaria canadensis, bloodroot. Photo by Larry Stritch.

Tradescatia virginiana, Virginia spiderwort. Tradescatia virginiana, Virginia spiderwort. Photo by Larry Stritch.