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Trail of Tears State Forest '' © Lisa Hinklin
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USA Parks
Illinois
Southern Region
Trail of Tears State Forest
TRAIL OF TEARS STATE FOREST
TRAIL OF TEARS STATE FOREST
3240 State Forest Road
Jonesboro, Illinois   62952

Phone: 618-833-4910
Reservations: 618-833-4910
Email:
Trail of Tears State Forest
© Lisa Hinklin

website

Trail of Tears State Forest
© Lisa Hinklin

website

Trail of Tears State Forest
© Lisa Hinklin

website

Trail of Tears State Forest
© Lisa Hinklin

website

Trail of Tears State Forest
© Lisa Hinklin

website

Trail of Tears State Forest
© Lisa Hinklin

website

Trail of Tears, one of Illinois' state forests, is situated in western Union County, five miles northwest of Jonesboro and 20 miles south of Murphysboro. Just over 5,000 acres are within the State Forest.

The State Forest System in Illinois was established to set aside lands for the growing of timber needed in production of forest products, for watershed protection and to provide outdoor recreation. Trail of Tears State Forest is a multiple-use site managed for timber, wildlife, ecosystem preservation, watershed protection and recreation.
Nature of the Area
Trail of Tears State Forest lies within the southern section of the Ozark Hills, one of the most rugged landscapes in Illinois. The hills are composed of chert (a weathered limestone residue). Soils are shallow and susceptible to erosion. Ridge tops are narrow, rocky, and dry. Clear streams with gravel bottoms are in the narrow forested valleys, hemmed in by the steep terrain.

The variety in plant communities is influenced by the terrain. Dry ridgetops and south-facing slopes have black oaks, white oaks and hickories. Extremely dry sites contain prairie-like openings (barrens and hill prairies) with a mingling of gnarled open-grown trees and shrubs like wild azalea, farkleberry and low-bush blueberry. The shaded north-facing slopes and protected coves support stands of American beech, tuliptree and sugar maple, or red oak, tuliptree and sweetgum. A rich understory of shrubs (including pawpaw, buckeyes, bladdernut and hornbeam), exists in moister sites. In stream valleys, a canopy of American elm, sweetgum, tuliptree, sycamore and sugar maple over a shrub layer of redbud, deciduous holly and spicebush, and thickets of wild cane (bamboo) occur. The wildflower flora of the Forest's lower slopes and valleys is lush and diverse. On a walk in the spring, a visitor can see many of the woodland wildflowers native to southern Illinois. In all, 620 species of flowering plants, ferns and fern allies are reported to occur at the State Forest.

There are many species of songbirds, including those restricted to large woodland tracts. Two species of poisonous snakes, timber rattlesnakes and northern copperheads, occur here. They are no danger to cautious visitors and must be left as part of the Forest's natural environment; indiscriminate killing of snakes is prohibited. Woodland mammals such as fox and grey squirrels, chipmunks, flying squirrels, opossums, skunks and raccoons, are common. Larger mammals known to inhabit the Forest are whitetailed deer, red and grey foxes, coyotes and the wary bobcat.

Forestry:

One of Illinois' two plant propagation center, the Union State Nursery, occupies 120 acres of the Forest. Approximately 10 acres of the nursery are devoted annually to growing nursery stock. The Nursery produces up to 3 million seedlings a year! Certain tree plantations within the Forest are seed sources for producing genetically superior stock.

The Forest is divided into 27 management compartments where the relationships of different timber harvest techniques to production of forest materials and their effects upon ecosystem function are studied. Although proceeds from those sales help support related programs at this and other State sites, research and education use of timber sites on the State Forest have a value far beyond any monetary gain from timber sales.

Wildlife:

Woodland openings are managed to provide food and cover for upland game species and those small mammals which are important food for predators. Some areas are planted in small grains; others are burned or mowed to maintain grassy habitat for nesting birds and the insects upon which they feed. Hollow trees are left for cavity-nesting wildlife.
History of the Area
The area was used extensively by prehistoric Native Americans. Individuals and small groups hunted game or gathered nuts within the Ozarks, but established their settlements closer to the Mississippi River or Clear Creek. Chert was mined (for making tools) at Iron Mountain, east of the Forest.

As settlers of European descent entered (around 1803), Native Americans were pushed south and west. In 1838-39 the Cherokee, Creek, and Chickasaw nations were forced by the U.S. Army to move from the southeast to reservations in Oklahoma Territory. They overwintered at makeshift camps 4 miles south of the Forest's southern boundary. Bitter cold and starvation claimed hundreds of lives. The cruel trek came to be known as the "Trail of Tears." The State Forest's name memorializes the tragic event.

In 1929, the State purchased 3000 acres as the Kohn-Jackson Forest, later named Union State Forest. During the 1930's the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp operated in the Forest. The CCC constructed many of the stonework stabilization walls and log stone shelters within the picnic area and along the Forest roads.

The Trail of Tears State Forest of today encompasses 5114 acres administered by the Division of Land Management. The nursery is operated by the Division of Forest Resources.
Camping
Both Class C (tent camping with vehicle access) and Class D (backpack) camping sites are available at the State Forest. Some locations have log shelters with adjacent privies. Group camping is available at a few sites. The forest's gravel roads are closed to vehicles from December 24 through the end of the spring wild turkey hunting season (generally the second week in May). All camping access is by foot only during that period (Class D). For information on group camping or special access concerns (during the winter-spring months) contact the site superintendent headquarters at (618-833-4910).
Nearby Accommodations
Cedar Sunset Cabin - Buncombe, ILCottages and Cabins
Top notch accommodations on the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail and on the edge of the Shawnee National Forest.
12.6 miles from park*
Pinnon Lake Cabins - Buncombe, ILCottages and Cabins
Tucked away in the picturesque rolling hills of Southern Illinois, our location rests on the highly acclaimed Southern Illinois Wine Trail. Pinnon Lake cabins are ten tranquil minutes from the edge of Shawnee National Forest. Moments from anywhere yet feels like miles from it all.
12.8 miles from park*
The Davie School Inn - Anna, ILBBs / Inns
Restored and remodeled to created an Inn with all the modern conveniences yet still leave the atmosphere of the old school house. Convenient accessibility to many Southern Illinois tourism attractions.
6.5 miles from park*
Doc's Lakeside Cabin - Jonesboro, ILCottages and Cabins
Doc's Lakeside Cabin was built in 2012 and is located in beautiful Southern Illinois. Let us welcome you to setting where you can rejuvenate your mind, body and soul.
4 miles from park*


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Picnicking
Two large shelters in the main picnic area are ideal for reunions and group gatherings. Two smaller rustic log shelters are suitable for small groups. Each picnic spot contains a table and grill, with privies and drinking water nearby. A ball diamond and smaller playing areas are also present. Other picnic sites exist along the Forest's gravel roads.
Trails
The fire trails are open all year for hiking. There are hiking trails at the Forest, including one designed for cross country running. Other trails pass through hills and valleys where one can appreciate the lush vegetation and abundant wildlife.

Horseback riding is permitted along designated horse trails. Access and trailer parking are available at the equestrian trailhead along the county blacktop road. Horseback use and horse trailer parking is not permitted on or along roads or fire trails (except where those are part of a horse trail), on hiking trails or anywhere south of the blacktop road. The horseback trails are open for use from May 1 to the first firearm deer hunting season (mid-November). These trails may be closed temporarily in the event of heavy rains during the riding season; it is best to call the site for a current report on trail conditions (618-833-4910). A detailed map of the horseback trails is available upon request.

Motorized vehicles and bicycles are not allowed off paved or graveled roads. All terrain vehicles are prohibited. In winter and early spring, gravel roads are closed to vehicles.
Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
November 14 Great Place to Hike by Baxter E.
This is a beautiful place with many hiking trails. I love to run around.
October 17 Our family loves this place by dbayer
My wife and i went here one time by accident when we first met. Years later i proposed here. We now have a 1yr old and october 09 we will be there with her. We love this place.


Area Accommodations (over 15 miles away)
Timber Ridge Outpost Cabins - Elizabethtown, ILCottages and Cabins
Come back to a simpler time when families played games together in the evenings and sat on the porch talking into the night. Enjoy some southern hospitality while staying in a real Log Cabin or a one-of-a-kind luxurious Tree House
Web Site: TimberRidgeOutpost.com
56.8 miles from park*
Willowbrook Cabin Rental - Golconda, ILCottages and Cabins
LARGE 2 and 3 bedroom private CABINS located near many of the major ATTRACTIONS of the Shawnee National FOREST and the surrounding Southern ILLINOIS area. All cabins offer incredible VALUE as they are fully furnished with everything needed including full kitchens with cookware, microwave, liens, fire pits and wood, outdoor grill, satellite TV and even FREE internet. Open all seasons
Web Site: WillowBrookCabins.com
47.9 miles from park*
Rim Rock's Dogwood Cabins - Elizabethtown, ILCottages and Cabins
Southern Illinois Cabins with all amenities, surrounded by The Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois. All cabins have air conditioning, heat, kitchen including stove, frig, microwave, coffee maker, toaster bathroom with shower, screened in porch, electric fireplace, satellite tv with HBO and DVD, all linens, cookware, plates, utensil, outside grill and picnic table.
Web Site: rimrocksdogwoodcabins.com
57 miles from park*
The Irish Inn - Ozark, ILBBs / Inns
Offering a wee bit of Europe in Southern Illinois' wine country. We are located right in the Shawnee National Forest. Stay in a stone and log chalet, cool in summer with blazing log fires in winter. You will enjoy the company of a genuine Belfast-born innkeeper and a full traditional Irish breakfast. There is no extra charge for the blarney, storytelling, and good Irish luck
Web Site: irishinn.tripod.com
22.6 miles from park*
Cedar Rock Cabins - Goreville, ILCottages and Cabins
Located in beautiful Johnson County, Illinois, and nestled within the Shawnee National Forest. Enjoy the screened in porch at dusk and view the wildlife that wanders freely through the woods. The hot tub is located out of doors so you can relax in luxury beneath the stars....
Web Site: cedarrockcabins.com
19.6 miles from park*
CLICK HERE for more accommodations
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Directions
Access to the Forest is from Illinois Route 127 (on the east) and Route 3 (from the west).

USA Parks
Illinois
Southern Region
Trail of Tears State Forest
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