Natural Areas Giant City State Park

Giant City State Park

* All Giant City Trails are open again!

Giant City State Park is an extremely popular destination for outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Opportunities for camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, rock climbing, repelling, horesback riding, and lodging exist within Giant City State Park.

Brief History of the Park:
Enormous sandstone bluffs tower above the forest floors at Giant City State Park and serve as icons of the Shawnee National Forest. These bluffs were once the sand bars, shoals and dunes of an ancient sea located just south of Giant City. Sand sediments were compacted and cemented together over millions of years to form sandstone. Earthquakes have uplifted, cracked and crumpled the earth in this area to form hills, bluffs and giant fissures in the rock. Over millions of years erosion by wind and water have etched athe bluffs by removing softer areas of stone. Meltwaters from the glaciers that flattened most of Illinois and stopped only a few miles north of the park then added to the erosion of the sandstone bluffs.

In 1927, 900 acres were purchased by the State of Illinios to preserve outstanding natural features like Devils Standtable and the "giant city streets." Today, Giant City State Park encompasses more than 4,000 acres which provide protection to the watershed, geologic formations, plants and animals. More than one million visitors come to the park each year to view these interesting sandstone formations, old forests, and lovely streams.

Recreational Opportunities:
Hiking: 

  • Arrow-wood Self-Interpretive Nature Trail is an easy 1/3 mile trail winding through a restored prarie. Native prarie species were planted here in 1999. The woodland has slowly emerged from land that was once cleared to be cultivated. This woodland is forty to sixty years old, containing Red cedar, Loblolly pine, Sugar maple, Red mulberry, Arrowwood, and White oak.
  • Devil's Stand Table Trail is a moderately difficult 1/3 of a mile trail. Estimated walking time is 30 minutes. The trail leads to a unique geologic rock formation known as Devil's Standtable that has dominated the landscape here for thousands of years. Sandstone bluffs on Devil's Standtable trail face south and southwest, creating a warmer climate than other blufflines found in the park. These bluffs were once the sand bars, shoals and dunes of an ancient sea located just south of Giant City.  Also along the trail is an immense rock shelter overhang formed because the softer sandstone in the lower part of the bluff eroded faster than the iron ore-permeated upper layers.
  • Giant City Nature Trail is a rugged 1 mile trail. Estimated hiking time is one hour. This trail is home to the infamous "giant city streets." This is a popular trail for the same reason. Please respect consider the impact that hundreds of thousands of hikers have on this trail each year. Do not pick wildflowers or ferns, and especially, do not carve on the sandstone. Report any suspcious activity to the Giant City Visitors Center.
  • Indian Creek Shelter Nature Trail is a moderately difficult 3/4 mile hike. Estimated hiking time is 45 minutes.
  • Post Oak Trail Nature Trail is an easy 1/3 of a mile, wheelchair and stroller accessible trail. Estimated walking time is 30 minutes.
  • Red Cedar Hiking Trail is a 12-mile circumnavigating the park and offering experienced hikers a challenging day trip. Fast hikers can cover the trail in about 5 hours. Backpackers or hikers with young children may choose to camp overnight at the primitive camp located 6 miles in on the trail. Be on the trail by noon when hiking in two days. For more information and maps, see Giant City State Park Visitors Center.
  • Stone Fort Trail is a rugged trail, 1/3 of a mile in length. The main feature of the trail is a 285 ft. reconstruction of a prehistoric stone wall. The stone fort is one of several found in the region, and is believed to be a relic of from the Late Woodland Period nearly 1500 years ago.
  • Trillium Trail is a two-mile trail through rugged terrain. Estimated hiking time is 1 1/2 hours. The trail carves through a 110 acre area known as Fern Rocks Nature Preserve, created mainly to protect two Illinois-endangered plant species--the large white-flowered mint and grove bluegrass. This is a high quality nature preserve with bluffs estimated around 250 million years old.

For more information and maps, see Giant City State Park Visitors Center.

Giant City State Park
235 Giant City Road
Makanda, IL
618.457.4836
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