Nestled in the Shawnee Hills of Southern Illinois, Timber Ridge Outpost & Cabins is centrally located with something for everyone. You’ll find an endless number of things to do, historical places to visit, groomed trails through some of the most ecologically diverse and beautiful woodlands. Throw a line in the pond and spend the afternoon or just simply relax, listen to the birds sing and read a book.
When guests check into Timber Ridge Outpost & Cabins, they will check in at our ice cream and gift store called Garden of the Gods Outpost. When you check in, we will give you some maps of the area with trail recommendations and more. Think of The Outpost as your Home Base while away from home. The staff at The Outpost is always there to assist Timber Ridge guests.
Download: Shawnee National Forest Map
Kayak Rentals At The Outpost
Our single person kayaks are easy to transport in your pickup truck or for a small fee, we offer drop off and pick up services. With quite a few lakes in the area, you are free to enjoy Mother Nature while you paddle or fish the afternoon away.
All our Kayaks are single person crafts. All rental crafts come with appropriate paddles and life jackets. If you have small children, please bring small life jackets for them in case ours don’t fit. Water crafts are rented on a 1st come; 1st serve basis. We reserve the right to refuse rental to anyone for any reason.
$20 per day, per craft (Includes paddle and unisex life jacket: parents bring life jackets for small children in case ours do not fit).
Hang Out At The Main Resort Area!
Come Fish In The Timber Ridge Pond
We’ve stocked the Timber Ridge pond with sunfish, catfish, large-mouth bass and walleye. Children can enjoy the thrill of catching their first fish while experienced fisher-persons can try to catch the big one. It’s catch and release.
Bring your own equipment or buy a cane pole & worms at The Outpost. There is a paddle boat for our guests to use; life jackets are required for all persons in the water craft, regardless of age.
Parents, please note this pond is almost 17 FEET DEEP. All children MUST be accompanied by an adult at all times even if they are just standing on the shore. Absolutely no swimming is allowed in the pond.
Do Some Stargazing?
Take a blanket one evening, and lay back on the hill in front of the pavilion and look up. If you are lucky enough to be here on a clear night when the moon is small, you will see the Milkyway, shooting stars and so many constellations you’ll lose count.
If you have a telescope and really want to get away and set up in a premium location, call us and we’ll direct you to a huge open field behind our house that you can set up in. It really is amazing.
Chill Out At The Pavilion
All guests at Timber Ridge have access to The Pavilion. Here you will find 2 horseshoe pits, a tetherball game and cornhole (or Bags if you are from the north). There are larger grills and picnic tables as well as several hanging swings to relax in. This is a wonderful gathering spot for groups that have multiple units but want to cook out and relax together.
Parents….if you need to run some energy out of the kids, the hill going up to the Pavilion is a wonderful place to have “races”. Works like a charm every time!
Local Hiking Opportunities
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 the stone, creating these amazing rock formations you now see.
Garden of the Gods was 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?!!
There are 2 parking areas when you turn into Garden of the Gods. The 1st is called Backpackers parking area with a wonderful 2-3/4 mile trail called Indian Point trail. Take a photo at the trailhead before you head out on this one.
One mile in is Observation trail parking lot. This is the ¼ mile trail with the famous Camel Rock that is the iconic image of the Shawnee National Forest. This trail is especially nice at sunset any time of the year.
Don’t forget to get your hiking medallion at The Outpost. These custom medallions will mold to any hiking stick and will remind you of your visit to this amazing area for years to come.
The Golden Trail parking area is located just ½ mile north of the Garden of the Gods entrance. A short ¼ mile hike down the trail is a cut off that will take you to a natural stone arch referred to as Knights of the Golden Circle.
This trailhead provides access to scenic spots such as: Buzzards Roost, Knights of the Golden Circle, Garden of the Gods, Big H Rock, Whiskey Cave, Rice Hollow and many more.
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.
We recommend to our guests that they take the left or center trail when they get to Rim Rock (there is only one trailhead). This is simply the best way to view this amazing trail. Both of these trails will lead you to a lookout platform. Here you will find a staircase going down. Take the stairs and follow the trail thru what is called “fat man squeeze”, down to the bottom of this cliff to the lower trail and Ox-Lot Cave. Follow the trail around to the right and you will come right back to the parking lot. This trail is ¾ mile.
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.
To get to the old Iron Furnace, take a left out of the main resort and follow our old country road for about 5 miles (you will have several miles of gravel roads to travel). When you get to the end of the road at the T, take a right. Travel a short distance and when you cross the old wooden bridge, you will see the Iron Furnace on the far right. On the left, below the bridge is a favorite swimming hold for locals and travelers. Be sure to look for arrowheads in this area!
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 (yes, in southern Illinois there are still free things to do!) car ferry across the river and visit a wonderful and friendly Amish community. Remember the Amish are closed to visitors on Sundays and you need to bring cash if at all possible as they do not accept any type of plastic.
From the Outpost, go east on Karber’s Ridge Road (also called Pounds Hollow Road) 8-1/2 miles to Illinois Route 1. Take a right and go south on route 1 for 13 miles to the town of Cave in Rock. Follow the signs to the state park to see the Cave, or stay straight and drive right onto the free car ferry. Some people take the ferry and then just turn around and come right back because the ferry is pretty cool.
Tower Rock is known for its unique rock formations with amazing views of the Ohio river below. Recently renovated with improved trails and better parking, Tower Rock is a must see when visiting this part of the Shawnee National Forest.
To get to Tower Rock from The Outpost, take Karber’s Ridge Rd west to Illinois Rt 34 and go left 7 miles to Rt 146. At the intersection of Illinois.
State Highway 34 and Illinois State Highway 146, go east on Illinois State Highway 146 approximately 8 miles, turn right onto Tower Rock Road and head east for 3 miles to the Forest Rd. #575 and turn right 0.5 mile to Tower Rock Campground. There are directional signs from State Hwy 146 to Tower Rock.
Hike The River-to-River Trail
From the Ohio River to the Mississippi River, this 160-mile trail will take you through some of the most scenic and ecologically diverse areas of southern Illinois, including upland forests, wetlands, grasslands and bluffs. The trail leads through some of the most remote areas of the Shawnee as it passes through five of the seven nationally designated wilderness’, designated natural areas and several state parks. Abundant with wildlife you may see bald eagle, red-tailed hawk, bobcat, armadillo and red fox. This area is home to some 250 bird species.
Most of the trail is on public lands (national forest or state parks), however some segments are along roads and across private land (where allowed). The Outpost is only 1 mile off the trail and is available with supplies, water and snacks.
Need a place for your support team to stay? The Prairie House home at Timber Ridge Outpost & Cabins is a little more than a ¼ mile from the trail.
Don’t forget to get your hiking medallion at The Outpost. These custom medallions will mold to any hiking stick and will remind you of your visit to this amazing area for years to come.
Who isn’t mesmerized by the site of a waterfall? Here in southern Illinois, we have a number of places to see waterfalls. Some are only flowing during the wetter seasons or after a big rain, others flow year-round.
Burden Falls is located about 30 minutes from Timber Ridge and is the 1st stop along what we call The Waterfall trail. This area is in the Burden Falls Wilderness area; one of 7 designated wilderness areas in the Shawnee National Forest.
Burden Falls Wilderness is comprised of a central hardwood ecosystem with some pine plantations. Trails for hiking and equestrian use will take you by some indications of past use by people including homestead, fruit trees, cemeteries and abandoned roads.
As you enter the southern end of the wilderness area on Burden Falls Rd, you will notice places all along the right side of the road where it is obvious that cars park. Pull up and park and then head out on one of the dozens of trails leading to the right. This area is filled with waterfalls. Hike as far as you want then turn around and go to the next spot and explore. You can lose time in this magical place.
Next up is Bell Smith Springs. Technically this isn’t a water fall but it is a pretty special place that is on your path from Burden Falls to Jackson Falls and there is water so we included it here.
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. The trail system consists of eight miles of interconnected trails featuring strange and wonderful rock formations, such as Devil’s Backbone, Boulder Falls and a natural rock bridge. Hiking this system of trails is a favorite activity because of the rock features, scenic overlooks, hidden springs and lush flora and fauna.
Jackson Falls is the largest waterfall in the state of Illinois at about 30’ tall. This is also considered the best rock climbing in the state.
The bluffs and rock faces found at Jackson Falls offer excellent technical climbing surrounded by a beautifully scenic area of the Shawnee National Forest. From the trailhead a short trail leads to the top of Jackson Falls. High bluffs are in the area, visitors should be cautious and aware of their surroundings.
Grab A Bite To Eat
The Outpost offers a take-out menu featuring Vienna all beef hot dogs fixed any way you like, Italian Beef sandwiches, Nachos, Homemade chili and the famous Authentic Chicago Dog (yes, we make it with the funky green relish and poppy seed buns).
When you’ve finished eating, don’t pass up the chance to have some of the best ice cream in southern Illinois! Although we are known for our Sasquatch Sundae’s and Black Cow Root Beer Floats, we offer a full range of decadent ice cream treats!
Kaylor’s Restaurant is located at Cave in Rock State park lodge. Overlooking the Ohio River atop a 60’ cliff, the restaurant offers good ol’ fashion home cooked food. Be sure and check out the movie scene photos of famous actors who filmed well known movies here like How the West Was Won with Jimmy Stewart.
The E’town River Restaurant is known far and wide for their unique venue atop a floating barge on the Ohio River in Elizabethtown. Although they are known for their fried catfish, you can find a variety of foods to satisfy everyone. Sit outside on the double decker seating area and watch the huge barges pass by. The restaurant is open seasonally and occasionally has to close when water levels on the Ohio get too high.
Double M Campground is a large horse camp about 10 miles from Timber Ridge Outpost & Cabins which makes it a fun venue for you city slickers. Amy makes the best steaks in the area and they now have a small bar if you’d like to add some libations to your dinner.
Lakes & Ponds
This 25-acre lake tucked away in the Hills of the Shawnee National Forest is a favorite for all our guests. 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.
Don’t forget to stock up on all your snacks, charcoal and a good book at The Outpost before you head out for the day.
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.
To find this hidden gem, go east on Karber’s Ridge Rd from The Outpost 3 miles to Illinois Rt 34. Go left (south) several miles to Dutton Chapel Rd. Take a right and follow this curvy road to One Horse Gap road, take a right and follow to parking area.
Located at the Saline County Fish & Wildlife Refuge, this 105 acre lake has wonderful bank fishing, and is a favorite for bird watchers and hikers alike. There is a 2 mile paved drive around the camp ground area that leads to a stunning statue of Chief Tecumseh. Read about his fascinating life and how he contributed to the creating of our Republic. There is a beautiful post card with this statue at The Outpost.
This site was once the site of springs and wells that furnished brine for one of the two salt works that existed in the area. Although the springs and wells are not visible today, the area primarily is a recreational site. The initial acquisition of 524 acres of land was made in 1959 by the state of Illinois, and the total acreage now totals 1,270 acres, including a beautiful 105-acre lake.
These remote shallow lakes are tucked away in the Shawnee Hills. This picturesque setting is a nice quiet place to bird watch, kayak or fish.
To get here from The Outpost, travel east on Kerber’s Ridge Rd approximately 2 miles to Bassett Rd. Go south 7.5 miles to an unmarked gravel road on the right, turn right on this road and go 1/2 mile down this gravel road to Forest Service Route 1736 on the left, take this gravel road up to the lake.
Southern Illinois Fishing
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.
The Outpost sells not only to go food and famous ice cream. As the only retailer in the area, we offer gifts, souvenirs, t-shirts, hoodies, games, camping supplies and much much more. Click here to see what all we have to offer or come in and look around.
Paducah Kentucky is located about an hours drive from Timber Ridge but is well worth the drive if you enjoy small cities with little art districts and quaint down-town areas.
Be sure to go to see the river walk and explore the art district and antique shops.
For all you quilters out there, Paducah is home to the National Quilt Museum, Hancock’s of Paducah, Calico Country and more!
Wander Around An Amish Community
Take the free car ferry across the Ohio River to Crittenden County Kentucky and drive through an established Amish Community. Look for the little signs at the end of their drive, or lane as they call it. If it is something you’d like to purchase or look at, pull in!
Always remember to be respectful of their modesty and preference for no cameras.
Pamper Yourself With A Therapeutic Massage
This personalized deep tissue massage is designed to align your body and calm your mind. Our local Independent Massage Therapist, will come to your cabin and spoil you with an amazing experience.
For our Treehouse guests, schedule the most relaxing, tension reducing Chair Massage you’ve ever experienced. (table massages are not available in the treehouses due to the stairs and limited space).
Contact Sheila at 618-444-9075 to schedule your appointment. Go ahead, spoil yourself!
Fresh Flower always enhance a special memory. Contact our local florist, The Flower Basket to have a beautiful arrangement delivered to your unit.
If you want to arrange a surprise and need the flowers delivered before you arrive, just ask the florist to contact us and we will coordinate with them so they can make the delivery before you arrive. Call 618-285-3518.
Harbisons Gas Station is located about 5 miles from Timber Ridge at the corner of Karber’s Ridge Rd and Illinois Rt 34. They do not sell diesel fuel however. (PS: they make wonderful bacon egg and cheese sandwiches in the morning, but get there early!)
Riverport Gas Station is located in Elizabethtown about 12 miles from Timber Ridge. They do sell diesel fuel here as well as an assortment of other items.
Towing Services: Opies 24-hour towing in Harrisburg Illinois 618-926-3301
Local Sheriff’s Office: Located in Elizabethtown 618-287-2271
Hardin County General Hospital & Clinic: Located in Rosiclare 618-285-6634
West Side Auto Repair: Located in Mitchellville 618-253-8514
Best One Tire in Harrisburg: 618-253-8473
Post Offices are located in Elizabethtown, Cave In Rock, Rosiclare and Herod. Hours vary and in some cases is very limited hours.