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Seeking information about Shawnee Nat'l Forest

Does anyone here use the Shawnee Nat'l Forest as their main hiking/camping/backpacking area? It's mine because it's close by. I'm kinda surprised that I don't see anyone posting about it here.

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I'm in the Western 'burbs of Chicago and have been wanting to drive down to SNF for a while. I may head down there around Thanksgiving (weather and other family obligations notwithstanding) so I'd love to know any recommendations you may have

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

@Dad_Aint_HipI'm going there for the weekend of Oct 10th, and then for around 10 days starting Nov 5th to do a River to River trail thru hike. But to answer your question, if I'm going for just a few days, I tend to gravitate toward the Garden of the Gods,Rim Rock/Pounds Hollow, or the Lusk Creek area. The Garden of the Gods area is the most "touristy", but unless the weather is perfect it isn't crowded. There are a lot of old forest service roads that have been turned to trails, so loops are pretty easy to make if you want to do some day hiking. If you're interested in waterfalls, most of them are pretty dependent upon recent rain, so they're hit and miss. There are some arches and great rock formations too. Here's a great interactive map of pretty much everything: 

There's also this: 

And a link to the Forest Service page, to check for closures, etc.: 

With most of the leaves gone, it's a great time to see things. If you have questions, just ask! Enjoy!



Do you know if a guide book and map pack is available for the R2R trail??