Winter Hiking in Southern Illinois & Stone Forts

Stone Fort

Winter hiking, Southern Illinois & Stone Forts. We went to Giant City State Park to hike the Stone Fort Trail. This trail is a short 1/3 mile with a somewhat steep access to the fort. Surrounded on three sides by bluffs the backside has an ancient stone wall that has confused archaeologists since they first discovered them.

Grey rock wall and blue sky in a winter setting


Estimated time of construction for these forts was around 600-900 AD. In spite of their name, they are not believed to be defensive structures. It is possible they were settlements or gathering places for festivities. Additionally, aside from this fort, there are ten others in the area.

The blue sky backdrop of two hikers


Winter Hiking, Southern Illinois & Stone Forts Thanksgiving Weekend

This hike being so short is a great one for a casual pace taking in all the sites. Along the edge of the bluffs is a path which provides great views of the surrounding area. Our family visiting for Thanksgiving enjoyed this hike and others we took that weekend. The weather could not have been better with temperatures around 60 degrees.

Overlooking the bluffs with the black road below


We enjoyed seeing the cars pass by on the park road from the bluffs opposite the stone wall. We also had many great photo opportunities along the way to commemorate our precious time with family. What better way to disconnect and unwind spending time in a place where so many years ago others may have been doing the same.

Tan fall leaves adorn the water flowing over the rocks

Hike up to the fort after a good rain, and you will enjoy a rushing stream alongside the trail. We did see some flowing water from rain days prior. If you are lucky, you will experience a warm day after a cold snap, and the waterfalls will be frozen.

Frozen waterfalls over green moss covered rocks winter hiking, southern Illinois & stone forts

Winter time in the Shawnee National Forest and surrounding areas of Southern Illinois is a great time of year, and nobody knows it. So if you want to experience this area at its best with no crowds come on down to Illinois’s best-kept secret. Shawnee Wine Trail Lodging Association is your first stop for great lodging options.


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