The beautiful Shawnee National Forest is located in the Ozark and Shawnee Hills near the town of Anna, in southern Illinois. This area covers more than 270,000 acres of natural areas. Visitors can experience the wonders of nature with both children and adults alike discovering an unforgettable journey. There are a multitude of things to see and do within the Shawnee National Forest near Anna.
There are more than 500 wildlife species that can be found in the Shawnee National Forest including 237 birds, 109 different species of fish, 57 amphibians, 52 reptiles and 48 mammals.
Hiking and Discovering
With so much natural wildlife and hiking trails, guests will be intrigued at the magnificent trails, natural bridge, and a sandstone cave, making this a great location to visit near an Anna Bed and Breakfast.
90-Foot Pomona Natural Bridge
Location: About 15 to 30 minute drive from Anna
Directions: From Pomona Highway 127; go west for about 3 miles
There is a short trail to the Natural Bridge. A loop of about 1/3 of a mile long ends at a fork and takes you to the creek where you can then get to the bridge. The Bridge is made of sandstone and bedrock, and was created by water erosion. It is 90 feet long and at its widest point is over 9 feet wide, with 25 feet in height over a trickling stream. A picnic area is available.
Garden of the Gods
Location: On Illinois 10 turn Right, after about 1 mile there is Garden of the Gods Roads and Recreation Area.
The Garden of the Gods is an amazing wilderness area that is over 320 million years old. It covers over 3,300 acres of forest and rock area with spectacular rock formations and is a must to see when in the Shawnee National Forest area.
North America's Largest Sandstone Cave (Shawnee National Forest area)
Directions: East on Illinois 146 for less than 1 mile, then Left on Illinois 147, then Left on Forest Road 423
There is an unmarked road just before the Cedar Grove Church, and parking is available in this area along the road.
Near Eddyville, about one hour drive from Anna, is North America's largest sandstone cave in the Shawnee National Forest area. A 1-mile trail leads to this cave. Past this cave are huge rock cliffs worth the extra hike.
The Cache River and Cypress Wetlands
Location: These are located near Belknap and the Pulaski area. Pulaski is only about a 20 to 25-minute drive from Anna, and Belknap is about a 37-minute drive.
Since Pulaski and Belknap are only about a 30-minute drive away from Anna, these wetlands would be a great place to visit from an Anna Inn. The Cache River and Cypress Wetlands was designated "Wetland of International Importance" for its rich diversity of plant and animal communities and some of the oldest living trees east of the Mississippi River, some Cypress trees being more than a thousand years old. It harbors an amazing and diverse swamp habitat. At present, this refuge protects over 40,000 acres of cypress and tupelo swamps.