Hiking & Biking

Camp Ondessonk has nearly 25 miles of hiking & biking trails marked with colored diamond trail blazes. This color-coded trail system helps staff, volunteers, and visitors find their way around our beautiful 983-acre property, and better know how our trails feed into the surrounding Shawnee National Forest trails. Hike out to Cedar Falls at old Camp Pakentuck to see the tallest free-falling waterfall in Illinois or check out Phantom’s Canyon. Our property is adjacent to thousands of acres of Shawnee National Forest and its vast network of trails to many other beautiful spots in the area.  Please obey posted signage and be mindful of trail regulations and restrictions when exploring Camp Ondessonk and the Shawnee National Forest. There are many fragile environments that can be harmed even by foot traffic.  

We are within a day’s hike or short drive to Bell Smith Springs, Jackson Falls, Max Creek, Trigg Lookout Tower, Burden Falls, Sand Cave among other locations. Our site is also an easy walk from roughly the halfway point on the River-to-River Trail. Backpackers are welcome to call ahead and ask permission to leave their vehicle on-site while they explore the greater area around Camp on a multi-day excursion. Stay in a treehouse for a night while hiking through the area.


  • Day hiking & biking is permitted from mid-August through mid-May, 7 days a week between 9:00am & 5:00pm, unless Camp is closed for a special event or certain holidays. Be sure to check our calendar.
  • Free-will offering at the suggested rate of $3.00-$5.00 per person is appreciated.
  • All members of your group must sign waivers or the logbook.

Check-In Locations:

  • Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 5:00pm: Check in at the St. Noel Office.
  • Weekends & some holidays: Sign the visitor log book located at the kiosk in the lower Main Parking Lot.

Rules & Regulations:

  • Please park in the Main Parking Lot and proceed on foot or bike to the trailhead.
  • Note: Many of Camp’s trails lead off-property onto public, unmarked Shawnee National Forest trails.
  • Only trails on Camp Property are marked. Know where you are going and how to get back.
  • Bicyclists must wear helmets at all times, obey trail restrictions, and obey posted speed limits.
  • Be good stewards and practice Leave-No-Trace Ethics.
  • Always have water, map, phone, and first aid.
  • Be mindful of natural hazards like cliffs, wildlife, ticks, high water, poison ivy, weather, etc.
  • Calculate hiking time at approx. 3mph on easy/moderate trails; 2mph on moderate/rugged. 
  • Minors must be adult-supervised at all times.
  • All local, state, and federal laws apply at Camp.
  • For assistance, call On-Duty Staff at (618) 759-1780.
  • For emergencies, call 911. Closest Emergency Room is in Harrisburg, IL.
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