Gorgeous views await at the end of this waterfall trail in southern Illinois

Happy trails!

Calling all backpackers, hikers, nature enthusiasts… whatever you may call yourself… we have an adventure for you!

Tucked within the Shawnee Hills near Goreville, Illinois, you’ll find Ferne Clyffe State Park.

For more than 100 years, this park has been known as an outstanding natural scenic spot.

Heartland Weekend on a trek to find out why.

Waterfall Trail

Yes, folks, there is a trail here that leads straight to an area where water typically cascades over the top of gorgeous rock formations.

Of course, the waterfall only flows when we’ve had decent rainfall.

ferne clyffe

When Heartland Weekend’s Nichole Cartmell hiked the .75 mile trail in late summer 2018, there was no waterfall.

BUT! Waterfall or not, this moderately difficult trail is gorgeous.

You start at Deer Ridge Campground.

Hike down a hill in between gorgeous bluffs.

fern clyffe

The trail will then leads you alongĀ a stone covered creek where there’s something beautiful to see around every bend.

In fact, there are more than 700 species of plant life that live in this park and create an extraordinary backdrop for any recreational activities.

Just beyond a small bridge, you’ll find the waterfall.

A pool at the base of the waterfall makes for a perfect spot to cool off.

For the daredevils, we suggest making your own path up and around the waterfall.

There are plenty of rocks to climb to the top.

CAUTION: naturally occurring hazardous areas do exist in this park. Visitors are warned to use extreme caution if they leave the safety of a designated trail.

Top 5 Trails

Ferne Clyffe State Park is home to 18 different trails.

These give you the chance to view the beauty at your own pace.

Again, for safety purposes, the forest service does suggest you stay on designated trails and exercise awareness.

Here are five trails you need to visit:

  • Hawk’s Cave Trail: An easy .5-mile trail that leads visitors past one of the largest shelter bluffs in Illinois.
  • Big Rocky Hollow Trail: An easy hike with a round-trip distance of .75-mile. The trail leads to a 100-foot-tall intermittent waterfall.
  • Blackjack Oak Trail: A moderately difficult 1-mile trail that offers impressive vistas. It leads hikers up two steep climbs from the lake to the Hillside picnic area.
  • Cedar Bluff Trail: The 2-mile hiking trail is rated moderate in difficulty. A short hike leads to a scenic vista atop Cedar Bluff. For those interested in a longer hike, the trail proceeds from the vista along the ridge top then descends the bluff and intersects with the Bobcat Loop Trail.
  • Bork’s Waterfall Trail: A .5-mile trail provides access to the base of the waterfall. This is an easy hike to an exceptional geological feature.

Getting There

Located on Illinois Route 37, Ferne Clyffe State Park is just 1 mile south of Goreville and 12 miles south of Marion.

CLICK HERE to map out your trek.