Plan A Fall Hike At Hidden Springs State Forest

Fall hikingFall is the perfect time to go on a hiking adventure. The weather is starting to cool off, which makes for a much more pleasant hike. Hidden Springs State Forest, formerly known as Shelby State Forest, has 1,200 acres of land to enjoy on your next fall hiking adventure!


There is a wholesome history behind the name of Hidden Springs State Forest. The name was selected because the property has seven known springs that were once used as drinking water by early settlers. As the years passed, the forest vegetation naturally started to cover the springs which is how the name “Hidden Springs” came about. There are two springs, including Rocky Spring and Quicksand Spring. They both have access points from the trails.  

In the original plans, this state forest was to be constructed into a state lake, but in 1960, the property was assigned to the Division of Forestry and has been managed as a state forest. In 1975, this changed again, reassigning the property to the Division of Land and Historic Sites. Hidden Springs State Forest is now maintained under the concept of multiple use.   

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Hiking Trails

The Hidden Springs State Forest headquarters and campground and picnic area all have available trail guides for a more hands on experience through the 35 interpretive stations. There are three popular trails that show you the beauties of the forest. Possum Hollow Nature Trail is three quarters of a mile in length and grants access to Park Pond and the pine seed orchard. The Big Tree trail is one mile in length, per its name, and it features a 78-inch diameter sycamore tree. This is one of the largest trees in Illinois! The third trail is Rocky Springs Trail, which is three miles in length. This trail features a forest improvement area, varied land and vegetation types like walnuts.  

In addition to these scenic trails, there are 17 miles of fire lanes that give access to more remote areas of the forest that is home to many songbirds, flowers and mushrooms. It is important for horses and motorcycles to use these lanes to keep off the foot trails. If you choose to visit Hidden Spring State Forest, you will be sure to experience an environment of peaceful beauty.

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