Tree Houses and Rocks and Walks through the Forest
What child doesn’t love to hang out in a tree house? Or romp through a forest? Or climb on huge boulders? The child in me emerged on my trip to the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois when I did all of those things.
Timber Ridge Outpost and Cabins in Karbers Ridge has two tree houses that you can stay in. One is on stilts around a tree, and the other is suspended between two trees, both with sleeping lofts and all of the comforts of home. If you prefer sleeping quarters firmly planted on the ground, Timber Ridge has awesome cabins, too.
Just a few miles from Timber Ridge at the Garden of the Gods, we hiked Observation Trail and climbed the rocky bluffs for a gorgeous view of the forest below. You don’t have to climb the rocks if you don’t want to; the view from the observation deck is magnificent, too, especially at sunset.
Elsewhere in the Shawnee National Forest we hiked the Rim Rock National Recreation Trail, high on bluffs and then down below, through a narrow passage between the rock walls that seem to be closing in on us. Farther down the trail, or down the road if you’d rather drive than hike, you can cool off in Pounds Hollow Lake or sunbathe on the small beach.
We saw an iron furnace used during the Civil War to make cannon balls, explored the cave at Cave-in-Rock State Park, and watched the full moon rise over Glen O. Jones Lake.
Restaurants are few and far between here, but on weekends Kaylor’s Restaurant in Cave-in-Rock State Park and Trails End Restaurant in the Double M Campground in Junction are open.
It was back to adulthood at the end of the weekend, but I can’t wait to find another place to be a kid again.
— Connie, Illinois Mile Marker