Indian Point Trail – Garden of the Gods

A slightly modified version of Indian Point Trail in Garden of the Gods, Shawnee National Forest

Trail: Indian Point Trail – Loop style trail

Trailhead: Garden of the Gods Backpacking Parking Lot,  Herod, IL 62947

Fees: No fee for day hiking or overnight camping. No permit required

Miles: 2 miles but can easily be more if you chose to explore the rock formations

Difficulty: Easy with the possibility of moderate with exploring the rocks and caves

Trail notes:  Dogs are allowed but must be on leash. There was also a lot of Poison Ivy along the trail.

Summary: Jump to the summary for a quick breakdown.

My brother and I recently headed out to Garden of the Gods in Illinois for a quick overnight camping trip. We had originally planned on camping along the Loop Trail but that didn’t quite work out for us. Check out the report of that hike here. As a backup plan, we had decided to hike the Indian Point Trail and hopefully find a camping spot to spend the night.

Indian Loop Trail map with modified route in blue
Indian Loop Trail map pulled from AllTrails. Route modification in blue by me.

The trail starts out the backside of the Backpacking Parking Lot in Garden of the Gods.  The trail is a gradual climb past a small pond transitioning from pine forest to hardwood timber forest before reaching the outlooks 0.6 miles into the hike. At the top of the hill, you will find several rocking outcroppings with wonderful views of the valley below.

The summit is an arc shape and here you will find a few camping spots. Unfortunately, all of these spots are right on top of each other.  You continue around the arc and there are several more rock formations with great views.

Leaving the summit behind, you continue through the forest steadily descending below the bluff line where after a half mile you will find a large group of rock formations. Thankfully we stopped to check this area out.  There are a couple small caves and lots of rocks to climb over and around. This was some of the most fun we had between the three trails that we did this day.

Exploring the rock formations along Indian Point Trail in Garden of the Gods in Shawnee National Forest

After our share of exploring and climbing we decided to head on and finish out the trail. The official trail has you double back on itself but we decided to follow the lower trail (highlighted blue on the map above) along a few more rock formations. From here you have about a half mile of mostly downhills with a few short climbs. The forest is beautiful as usual and makes for a nice end to the trail. Following the trail back you end up back in the parking lot.

Small cave on the Indian Point Trail in Garden of the Gods in Shawnee National Forest

Our original plan had been to hike the Loop Trail and Observation Trail and find a camping spot along the way. That fell through and we had hoped to find a spot on this trail. While there were a few spots, they were all right on top of each other and a few people had already pitched a tent. What really tipped us towards not camping was the fact that it looked like these camp spots were going to be a party tonight. Quite a few people had turned up as it was getting later in the evening and they all looked like they were looking for a party. This is great but not the peaceful nature experience that we were looking to have that night. We ultimately decided not to camp and drove back home instead. While this isn’t what we were hoping to do, we had a great time exploring Garden of the Gods and hanging out with each other.

Summary: This is an easy 2-mile hike with some wonderful views from the outlooks, beautiful rock formations and lots of native wildflowers. This is a great day hike to add on to the Observation Trail and Loop Trails. This is a highly recommended trail from a views/experience verse effort perspective. I wouldn’t plan on camping here unless it is during a non-peak time or you don’t mind a livelier camping experience.

If you didn’t read my previous post on the Loop Trail and Observation Trail in Garden of the Gods, please check it out here.

I hope you found this interesting and helpful. Have you been to Garden of the Gods or Shawnee National Forest? What are your thoughts and what trails in the area should I check out next?

As always, have fun, take care of yourself, and please be courteous to others out on the trails.

Published by Natural Wanderer

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