"With heavenly rock formations, canyons, bluffs, and ridges carved over eons by wind and water, it's no secret why Garden of the Gods is the state's most visited landmark. Once home to indigenous peoples, today the area attracts many rock climbers, photographers, and bird-watchers hoping to spy one of the resident raptors. To the north, west, and south the Wilderness bounds the Garden of the Gods Recreation Area. The two areas are connected by interconnecting trails. The Illinois River-to-River Trail, part of the American Discovery Trail, passes through this Wilderness.
Views from the summits of massive sandstone formations overlook a thick forest, an especially pleasing sight in fall when the leaves weave a bright tapestry of color. The hiking below the bluffs is easy and quiet through the hardwood trees dotted with moss-covered, sculpted sandstone. Of the many canyons of the Wilderness, Rock Branch Hollow, which runs from the northern boundary south to the middle of the area, probably rates as the most beautiful. Overnight parking is available in the recreation area. Permits are not required for trail use or camping. Non-system trails exist, therefore map and compass use is recommended." Backpacking trail info by Wilderness.net
From Exit 54 at Interstate 57 and Illinois 13, drive 25 miles east on Illinois 13 to US 45 in Harrisburg. Turn right onto US 45 and drive south 1 mile to Illinois 34. Turn left onto Illinois 34 and drive 16 miles to Karbers Ridge Road. Turn left onto Karbers Ridge Road and drive 3 miles east to Illinois 10, turn right. Continue about 1 mile to Garden of the Gods Road, turn left. Look for Garden of the Gods Recreation area on your left.
From the south take Illinois 1 North to Cadiz Road. Turn left and continue west 6 miles to Karbers Ridge Road. Turn left and continue west for 4 miles to Illinois 10 (Garden of the Gods Road). Turn left for about 1 mile. Turn left into Garden of the Gods Recreation area.
Garden of the Gods
"Garden of the Gods is located in southern Illinois in the Shawnee National Forest. The Wilderness area is over 320 million years old and covers over 3,300 acres of beautiful old growth forest.. The sediment rock in this area is over 4 miles deep and the fractured bedrock has created some interesting rock formations that represent various objects.
Garden of the Gods has two main trail systems. The best known trail is the Observation Trail. It follows a .25 mile stone path that leads to some spectacular overlooks of the Garden of the Gods Wilderness area and views of unusual rock formations. This is an interpretive trail that has some interesting history about the geology of this area. There are other trails that lead to places such as Indian Point, Anvil Rock, Mushroom Rock and Big H. These trails combine for about 5.5 miles and are interconnecting. There are maps available at the park which is open year round." Backpacking info by BackpackCamp.com