The Benefits of Hiking at Camp Ondessonk

The Benefits of Hiking at Camp Ondessonk

With summer camp quickly approaching, don’t miss out on your chance to hike at Camp Ondessonk this May.  We will close our gates to the public on May 19, 2023, to prepare for summer camp.  Ondessonk is a beautiful 983-acre property located in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois.  Camp O offers a variety of activities for campers of all ages, including hiking.  Hiking at Camp Ondessonk provides a number of benefits, including:

  • Physical activity: Hiking is a great way to get exercise and stay fit.  It’s a low-impact activity that people of all fitness levels can enjoy.  Make sure to choose a trail that fits your skill and fitness level.
  • Mental health benefits: Hiking has been shown to improve mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.  It can also help improve mood, cognitive function, and sleep quality.
  • Reduced stress: Hiking in nature has been shown to reduce stress levels.  Spending time in nature can help to clear your head, relax your body, and improve your overall mood.
  • Increased energy: Hiking can help to improve your energy levels.  Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting and energy-boosting effects.
  • Weight loss: Hiking can help you lose or maintain a healthy weight.  It’s a great way to burn calories and build muscle.
  • Improved sleep: Hiking can help you to sleep better at night.  Exercise can help to tire you out, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Increased social interaction: Hiking can be a great way to socialize with friends and family.  It’s a fun and active way to spend time together.
  • Learning opportunities: Hiking can be a great way to learn about nature.  You can learn about different plants, animals, and ecosystems.
  • Sense of accomplishment: Hiking can help you to feel a sense of accomplishment.  Reaching the top of a hill or completing a challenging hike is rewarding.

If you want to improve your physical and mental health, spring hiking at Camp Ondessonk is an excellent option. Camp O has a variety of hiking trails for all levels of experience, and the staff can help you find the perfect trail for you. So what are you waiting for?  Start hiking today!

Here are some additional tips for hiking at Camp Ondessonk:

Check-In Locations:

  • Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm: 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 always wear helmets, obey trail restrictions, and obey posted speed limits.
  • Be good stewards and practice Leave-No-Trace Ethics.
  • Always have water, a map, a phone, and first aid.
  • Be mindful of natural hazards like cliffs, wildlife, ticks, high water, poison ivy, weather, etc.
  • Calculate hiking time at approx. Three mph on easy/moderate trails; two mph 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.  The closest Emergency Room is in Harrisburg, IL.

Site & Trail Maps

The Benefits of Hiking at Camp Ondessonk.  People hiking in the forest at Camp Ondessonk


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