Description - The Shawnee National Forest is located at the junction of five physiographic regions and at the edge of the glaciated area, which results in a wide diversity of flora and fauna, and unique geologic features. The Forest provides some of the largest and most diverse blocks of mature hardwood forest, forest interior habitat, and public openland habitats in Illinois. The Shawnee National Forest also contains the most acreage of Natural Areas in the State of Illinois, providing remnants of 25 rare natural communities in 80 Natural Areas. The Forest provides habitat for aquatic and terrestrial threatened, endangered and sensitive species, and provides an abundance of diverse habitat for game and non-game species. The Oakwood Bottoms Greentree Reservoir and Inahgeh lands provide important wetland habitats for migrating waterfowl in the Mississippi flyway.
- The Shawnee National Forest has the largest public forested area in the state, and is uniquely positioned to provide visitors with a wide range of outdoor recreation opportunities. Magnificent rock and bluff formations, river views, waterfalls, tupelo and cypress swamps, lakes, and large scale forested areas and backcountry experiences are predominating.
Recreation - There are many miles of diverse hiking and backpacking trails in the Shawnee National Forest including the 160-mile River to River Trail. Take extra precautions during hunting seasons by wearing bright orange clothing. It is a good idea to carry a compass and map. Forest streams do not meet the safety standards for drinking water. We recommend taking your water with you or purifying stream water before drinking it. National Forest ownership is scattered with privately-owned lands interspersed. Respect the rights of these owners by staying on public lands.
Climate - Illinois experiences four distinct seasons with varying weather throughout the year. Winter can be very cold. The highest humidity of the year occurs during this season averaging 70 to 75 percent. Average low temperatures in January dip to 20 degrees F with highs near 35 degrees F. Spring temperatures are mild with humidity below 70 percent. Temperatures during this season average between 32 and 50 degrees F. Summer is usually hot and humid in this Midwest state. Low temperatures remain in the low sixties with high temperatures near 90 degrees F. The highest rainfall of the year occurs during the summer months. Fall is an excellent time to visit the state with low humidity and rainfall and moderate temperatures.
Each activity within the Shawnee National forest is described on individual wildernetl.com pages. Maps and driving insttuctions are provided.