Area Attractions

Attractions Near and Far
Not sure what to do when you get here? Nestled in the Shawnee Hills of Southern Illinois, Timber Ridge Outpost & Cabins is centrally located with something for everyone. You’ll find and endless number of things to do, historical places to visit, groomed trails through some of the most ecologically diverse and beautiful woodlands, fishing or just simply get away, relax and watch the local wildlife or read a book.

Local Events Calendar
Download: Shawnee National Forest Map

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods

  • Enjoy the endless miles of groomed trails throughout the Shawnee National Forest and Kaskaskia Experimental Forest.
  • Take the short ¼ mile hike at Garden of the Gods (3 miles away) and experience views overlooking the Shawnee Hills from atop 90’ cliffs.
  • Take one of dozens of different hiking trails and explore views not found anywhere else in Illinois.
  • Prefer to take off with your own personal guide? Call in advance and book your privately guided hike or mushroom foray. A unique, upfront and personal way to experience the Shawnee National Forest.
Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods – Just 320 million years ago, portions of southern Illinois were covered by a shallow sea. As great rivers flowed by the shore, they deposited large amounts of sand and mud. Slowly the land in this region began to sink creating great pressure which turned the sand and mud into stone. Eventually the land began to rise and the sea retreated southward leaving the stone exposed to the elements for millions of years. The rock formations are the results of millions of years of nature shaping garden of gods quarterthe stone, creating these amazing rock formation you now see.

Garden of the Gods is featured on the back of the 2016 US Quarter. As part of the America the Beautiful Quarter program from the US Mint, Camel rock, the most prominent rock formation at Garden of the Gods, now brings even more attention to this natural wonder right here in southern Illinois. Who knew?!!

During the 2016 calendar year, Timber Ridge Outpost & Cabins is giving a free Garden of the Gods quarter to their guests at time of check in; one quarter per reservation.

Rim Rock Recreation Trail

Rim Rock Recreational area trail.

Rim Rock Recreation Trail – View the remnants of a 1500 year old stone wall built by Prehistoric Indians. This area is known for its spectacular show of spring woodland flowers along both its upper and lower trails. The upper trail however is paved and less strenuous for hikers. The lower trail has a dirt surface and leads along the base of the bluffs before looping back to the parking lot. Along the lower trail, you will find impressive sandstone rock formations, massive bottom-land hardwood trees and Ox-lot Cave, a massive rock overhang where 19th century settlers kept their oxen and horses.




Pounds Hollow Lake

Pounds Hollow Lake

Pounds Hollow Lake Recreation Area– A 25 acres lake tucked away in the Shawnee Hills of the Shawnee National Forest. Just 5 miles from Timber Ridge Outpost & Cabins, the lake is stocked with Bluegill, Catfish, Large Mouth Bass and Sunfish. There are picnic table, park grills and a sand beach. The lake is accessible from Karber’s Ridge road or take a short hike from Rim Rock to Pounds Hollow Lake. This is great for bringing a couple Kayaks and relaxing for the day with the family. Call The Outpost and reserve your Kayak today. Pick up and drop off services available.


Illinois' only remaining Iron Furnace

Illinois’ only remaining Iron Furnace

Iron Furnace – Visit the only remaining iron furnace in the State of Illinois. Using the charcoal blast method, iron was manufactured at the Iron Furnace until about 1861 when it was shut down. The iron casting, known as “pigs” were then transported to Elizabethtown where it was shipped to other areas for further manufacturing along the Ohio River. The Iron Furnace was reconstructed in 1967 and stands as a monument to the rich and diverse history of southern Illinois.


cave in rock

The cave at Cave In Rock



Cave In Rock State Park – With a rich history dating back to the Revolutionary War, the cave at Cave In Rock is a must see for anyone visiting southern Illinois. This 55′ wide cave was once home to pirates, counterfeiters, brothels and numerous “Gangs” of the early 19th century. Walk the bluffs overlooking the Ohio river or take a free ferry across the river and visit a wonderful and friendly Amish community.


Tower Rock

Overlooking the Ohio River at Tower Rock

Tower Rock– Unique rock formations with amazing views of the Ohio river below. Check out the great video clip showing some of the amazing views from the top of Tower Rock in Hardin County Illinois.





One Horse Gap Lake

One Horse Gap Lak

One Horse Gap Lake – Voted by Western Horseman magazine readers as one of the top 5 places to ride, the Shawnee National Forest offers some of the most remote and fascinating trails to hike, ride and explore. One Horse Gap Lake is a 26 acre lake in the heart of this unique geological area. Described as “southern Illinois’ most remote bouldering area”, the eastern region of the Shawnee National Forest is quite different from the rest. Giant overhanging boulders which lay hidden in the vast forest combined with huge, exposed domes of sandstone jutting out the earth is where you’ll find One Horse Gap Lake. This area, named after the narrow gap in the bluffs that allows only one horse to pass through at a time will take you around the lake with awe inspiring views and scenery.

Giant City State Park

Rock Climbing/Repelling at Giant City State Park


Giant City State Park – With its breathtaking natural beauty and unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation, a trip to Giant City State Park near Carbondale is sure to delight visitors of all ages. From camping and horseback riding to fishing and rappelling, it’s an outdoor lover’s paradise. Approximately 1-1/4 hour from Timber Ridge Outpost & Cabins.




trail of tears2

Trail of Tears Park

Trail of Tears – The legendary path the Cherokee Indians took when they were moved from the Great Smoky Mountains to Oklahoma.  The area was used extensively by prehistoric Native Americans. Individuals and small groups hunted game or gathered nuts within the Ozarks, but established their settlements closer to the Mississippi River or Clear Creek. Chert was mined (for making tools) at Iron Mountain, east of the Forest.



Devils-Backbone-Bell-Smith-SpringsBell Smith Springs – Bell Smith Springs is one of the most beautiful recreation areas the Shawnee National Forest has to offer. It contains a series of clear, rocky streams and scenic canyons bordered by high sandstone cliffs and an abundance of vegetation unique to Illinois.  A rare phenomenon of interconnected, complete, functioning ecosystem with dozens of ice-cold spring pools and over 700 species of plants. Approximately 40 minutes from Timber Ridge Outpost & Cabins.


Ferne Clyffe

Waterfall on the Big Rocky Hollow Trail

Ferne Clyffe State Park – See Hawks’ Cave, a 150-foot-long shelter bluff, and a 100-foot-tall intermittent waterfall on the Big Rocky Hollow trail.  George Rogers Clark and his contingent purportedly passed through or near Ferne Clyffe on their trip to Fort Kaskaskia in 1778. One hundred years later, the Cherokee reportedly used the area as their hunting range while on their Trail of Tears march. Fern Clyffe State Park is approximately 1 hour from Timber Ridge Outpost & Cabins.





Rend Lake

Nearby Rend Lake


Besides several small ponds, including our own, loaded with fish and tucked away from time in the remote Shawnee Hills, Hardin County also offers two free boat launches into the Smithland Poole on the Great Ohio River. Want to explore other larger lakes, take a short drive and explore

  • Crab Orchard Lake – a 6,965 acre reservoir that is the centerpiece of the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. (approx. 1 hour away)
  • Rend Lake – 387,900 acre lake (approx. 1-1/2 hours away)
  • Lake of Egypt – 2300 acre reservoir in the Little Egypt region of Southern Illinois (approx. 1 hour away)
  • Enter one of the regularly scheduled fishing competitions on the Ohio River in the Smithland Poole.
  • Kincaid Lake – A 2,750 acre lake known for excellent crappie fishing. (approx. 2 hours away)

Recharge your boat batteries in the evenings at one of our boat charging facilities. Fees apply.

Bring your own bikes and take a scenic ride along the Tunnel Hill State Trail and ride through the old train tunnels along the way. (Multiple trail heads within 25  minutes of Timber Ridge Outpost & Cabins)

Tunnel Hill State Trail stretches for 45 miles from Harrisburg to Karnak Illinois. The trail spurs and continues for 2.5 miles from Karnak to Cache River State Natural Area – Henry Barkhausen Wetlands Center on the old Chicago and Eastern Illinois railroad bed.
The 9.3-mile section between Tunnel Hill and Vienna crosses trails already known to outdoor recreationists such as:

  • The River-to-River Trails, which extends from the Mississippi to the Ohio River
  • The unmarked American Discovery Trails, which in southern Illinois follows back roads and some of the River-to-River Trail
  • The U.S. 76 Bicycle Route, a part of the TransAmerica Bike Route
  • The Trail of Tears, the primary route the Cherokee Indian tribe took in the winter of 1838-39 during their forced move from the Great Smokies to Oklahoma.


Gift Certificates
Timber Ridge Outposts offers an easy way to give the gift of the great outdoors. Available in different amounts, our gift certificates are sure to please.  Book your gift certificate here.

Looking for a little extra peace of mind? Timber Ridge Outpost & Cabins has partnered with the industry leader in Travel insurance, InsureMyTrip! Click on the link below to get your FREE, no obligation quote!

Why? Because life happens…