Makanda: Gateway to Giant City and Outdoor Adventure in Shawnee Forest Country


Breathtaking natural beauty and unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation, a trip to Giant City State Park and the Makanda area offers loads of fun. From camping and horseback riding to fishing and rappelling, it’s an outdoor lover’s paradise. You will love the many hiking trails. Especially popular is the Giant City Nature Trail, home of the “Giant City Streets”  — huge bluffs of sandstone formed 12,000 years ago.

Learn about the ‘Giant Streets’ that gave the park it’s name and get maps and trail details. Giant City State Park Visitor’s Center contains an exhibit hall with displays of the natural, cultural, and geological features of the park. Don’t miss the 10 minute film about the park in the audio/visual room. There is a Discovery Corner that kids love to explore. Ask about the scavenger hunt for kids. Get a prize upon returning it at the end of the hike all filled out, but watch your time, the center closes at 4 PM.

Hiking is available year-round. Exploration of the picturesque natural wonders of Giant City State Park can be enjoyed along the Post Oak, Devil’s Standtable, Giant City, Stonefort, Indian Creek, Trillium and Arrow wood trails. The Post Oak Trail has been designed for disabled visitors. The 12-mile Red Cedar Hiking Trail provides an invigorating challenge to the truly dedicated backpacker, and offers an overnight campsite at the halfway point. Be sure to use insect and tick repellent.

Rock Climbing and rappelling are permitted at the park in two locations. The areas of Devil’s Stand table cliff and Shelter #1 bluff at the Makanda entrance are accessible to climbers, and ropes are permitted on these cliffs. Climbers should bring their own equipment and go directly to the bluff, no check-in is necessary. No permanent anchors allowed. All climbing activities at the park are conducted at your own risk. Cliffs are steep and sandstone can be slippery when wet. Venomous copperhead snakes, an Illinois protected species, are found on sunny ledges. Please use caution. Southern Illinois sandstone bluff plant communities are fragile, so tread lightly in these areas. Always carry out what you carry in!

Giant City Stables: Saddle up for trail rides with experienced wranglers through private trails. Even if you don’t want to ride, walk through the stables to see, and even pet the horses.

The Stable maintains approximately 30 horses of different types and breeds for your enjoyment. There are horses of all different levels and will match you with a horse that meets your needs. The trail rides are guided by experienced wranglers, who lead you through 3 plus miles of private trails in the heart of Giant City State Park.

For more information please contact Carol Hoffman, Shawnee Forest Country, Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau, (618) 833-9928.