Check out our photo gallery for many trails photos & videos!
We specialize in catering to campers with horses who want to enjoy trail riding on the many scenic trails in the Shawnee National Forest. Other campers, backpackers, hikers, bikers, and hunters are always welcome. To view a local trail map online (downloadable and printable) see the bottom of this page. You'll get a copy of this map when you check-in, on legal sized (8.5x14") paper. [one free map per campsite, additional copies $1]
Our location is ideal. We are centrally located smack-dab in the middle of the most popular trail riding area of the Shawnee, with direct access to the trails (no need to trailer out). Riders staying at other local campgrounds literally have to ride through our property to access some trails! You can ride out of camp heading to the East (leading to Indian Kitchen, Secret Canyon, Lusk Creek Wilderness, Saltpeter Cave, Owl Bluff, etc), and to the West (to Double Branch Hole, Jackson Hole, Peter's Cave, Petticoat Junction, Crow Knob, Hayes Creek, etc).
Within a 4-mile radius of Hayes Canyon Campground there are 67 miles of designated Forest Service trails (the highest mileage of any permitted camp).
Within a 10-mile radius of Hayes Canyon Campground there are 180 miles of Forest Service trails.
[these numbers do not include several more miles of open trails on private property]
See Frequent Questions for more information on trail markings and trail guide service.
East of Hayes Canyon Campground are locations such as Lusk Creek Wilderness, Indian Kitchen, Saltpeter Cave, Natural Bridge, etc.
To the West of Hayes Canyon Campground are Bay Creek Wilderness, Jackson Hole, Peter's Cave, and Sand Cave. Double Branch Hole is just off the West of our property boundary.
Lusk Creek Wilderness, Bay Creek Wilderness, and Garden-of-the-Gods Wilderness trails only [note these areas on your map]. These trails are open seasonally from April 1st to November 30th. Group size in wilderness areas is limited to 10 persons. These trails (in the Lusk Creek Wilderness area only) during the months of April, May, Sept, Oct, and November may be temporarily posted as closed for 24 hours following a greater than 1 inch of rain in a 24 hour period--there is a sign at the trail head leaving camp towards the Wilderness that will tell you if the area is open or closed that day.
Notes to help you plan your trip : Trail conditions vary from level to very steep grades and from dirt to gravel to rocky. Your trip will be more enjoyable for both of you if your horse is adequately conditioned. There are many opportunities to offer water on the trail, but if visiting during the heat of the summer accustom your horse to accepting electrolyte solution in some form before your visit. It is highly recommended to have your equine shod x4. Those with sensitive hooves may benefit from pads. Barefoot horses may find the flat ledges of limestone rock encountered on trail much more slippery than to shod horses. Some visitors use hoof boots successfully, but this takes advance preparation and be sure the boots fit securely or it could be expensive and frustrating.
The River-to-River Trail Society publishes a FREE online trail map of the River-To-River trail, which also includes nearby trails and attractions. The Trail Guide is available to all without charge on the Society’s website at rivertorivertrail.net, simply by going to the site and then clicking on “Trail Information.” Users will have the option of downloading and printing either the entire guidebook, or only those pages covering a particular section of the trail in which they are interested. In addition, users may also download the guide to their smart devices, because the guide is fully hyper-linked for easy navigation. The Trail Guide is intended for both hikers and horsemen. The online format provides the Society with the means to keep the Trail Guide constantly up to date, as changes are made in the route of the Trail or new information becomes necessary or available.
The River-to-River Trail stretches 157 miles across Southern Illinois, and goes through the middle of the village of Eddyville, 1/2 mile from Hayes Canyon Campground. Local trail information would be on maps numbers 8, 9, and 10. Local trail attraction descriptions and photos are in chapters 5 & 6.
Available for purchase from the "Friends of the Shawnee" organization is a large 24" x 32" double-sided, color trails map. This trail map includes trails in a 3-county area (much further than can be ridden from camp in 1 day). And now they are waterproof and tear resistant! 25% of the proceeds from the map go back to trail improvements. [the other 75% goes to the printing cost and to other projects of the Friends group such as childrens programs, fishing derbys, etc] Click here to view an example of the large trails map for the Eddyville Area Note - this is a very large file (over 20 MB) and takes some time to load. The only version available for free online is from 2010 so is not up-to-date. This large map ONLY shows trails on National Forest ground, there are additional connecting trails on private ground, shown on our local trail map. Available for sale here at the campground office as a convenience for our customers, or you can purchase at Forest Service offices in Harrisburg and Vienna (they are open 9-4:30 mon-fri, closed holidays), or online at www.shawneefriends.org