The Shawnee National Forest is a popular destination for those visiting the Creal Springs area. The park offers visitors more than 270,000 acres to explore which includes mountains and the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The area is different than most of the Midwest regions, because it contains five different ecological regions. You will find plenty to do close to your Creal Springs bed and breakfast.
This national forest has 135 miles of hiking trails, including the well known River to River Trail. The trail takes hikers on a scenic jaunt of 160 miles that is rated moderate to difficult, through the area that connects the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. To complete the entire trail takes an average of 14 days. The River to River Trail connects on the western side with the American Discovery Trail. The variety of trails offer day hikes for all levels of hikers, including those with disabilities. It is recommended that you take water, a compass and a map.
Garden of the Gods
Enjoy a bit of peace away from the city, yet close to your Creal Springs Inn. This wilderness area offers visitors 3,300 acres of trees located within the Shawnee National Forest. The area is filled with sediment rock and bedrock that creates interesting formations. The very popular Observation Trail is a quarter of a mile, and it takes you to an overlook of the Garden of Gods Wilderness Area which includes a view of unusual rock formations. It is an informative trail that offers the history and geology of the area. The River to River Trail also travels though this area.
Jackson Falls is the designated area of the forest for rock climbing and rappelling. It is located at the Hidden Springs Ranger District. There are other areas located throughout southern Illinois that are not part of the park. Contact the Ranger District for more information on the climbing area.
In the Shawnee National Forest there is a trail of a different kind, The Shawnee Hills Wine Trail. It winds through the beauty of the forest and southern Illinois. The wineries are family owned and operated. They offer a selection of internationally and nationally acclaimed wines that will fit your taste. The trail is a 30-mile loop where you will find antique shops, restaurants and other attractions. Bring along a picnic basket full of your favorites goodies, because most of the wineries offer picnic areas. Enjoy the wine, and dine.
Shawnee National Forest Headquarters
A scenic drive is a must do while enjoying your Creal Springs bed and breakfast. Although many areas of the forest are scenic, there are two that stand out. Located near the Anna Jonesboro area is the LaRue Pine Hills Road. You will enjoy a 35-mile drive through back country roads. On your journey you will wind through the forest and take in the views of the Mississippi floodplain and the LaRue Pine Hills Otter Pond Research Natural and Ecological Area. You will also have plenty of chances to check out antique shops, wineries and orchards along the way. Take an opportunity to hop on the Ohio River National Scenic Byway. This scenic highway stretches across three states including Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. A part of the 300 miles of Illinois road is on the eastern side of Shawnee National Forest, close to the Garden of the Gods and other attractions. It also makes its way through interesting river towns.