Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
192.00 ft (58.52 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
4.80 mi (7.72 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Designated a national natural landmark in 1980, Lusk Creek Canyon is the name of a 906-acre canyon located within the Lusk Creek Wilderness Area of the Shawnee National Forest in Pope County, Illinois. The Lusk Creek Canyon Nature Preserve and National Natural Landmark features an outstanding scenic view, also called Indian Kitchen. Rugged terrain and winding canyons characterize Lusk Creek, unusually diverse topography for Illinois. The Bear Branch Creek Trail follows Bear Branch Creek over small bluffs and alongside small waterfalls, and the views over the canyon are outstanding during winter.

After turning at Eddyville onto Indian Kitchen Road, go past the official trailhead and drive all the way to the very end of the road. The road dead-ends at Bear Branch Creek. There's parking for four or five cars there. Trail 405 to Indian Kitchen is right there on the east side of the road. A single path leads down to the bluff into the canyon, where you can get a good view of the canyon walls and Lusk Creek in a "Horseshoe Bend" of the river. You may encounter slippery surfaces and steep slopes, especially in wet conditions. Stay on the trail.

The Lusk Creek wilderness protects broad, relatively flat ridges and terraces overlooking narrow ravines and deep sandstone gulches. Throughout the landmark, you'll find sheltered caves, sinkholes, and sheer rock walls rising, at some points, 200 feet above the creeks. Lusk Creek is one of the state's highest quality streams. It runs year round. Anglers can fish the stream for bass and bluegill. You may find small tracts of old-growth timber and spring wildflowers, along with deer, turkey, and bobcat. The trail is sometimes shared with horseback riders, which tends to make the trail quite muddy.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Bedrock creeks. Waterfalls. Wildflowers. Towering bluffs. Slot canyons. Big vista.

Cons

Trail is rough in parts. Equestrian use. Mosquitoes and ticks in spring and summer.

Trailhead Elevation

598.00 ft (182.27 m)

Highest point

648.00 ft (197.51 m)

Features

Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Cave
Old-growth forest
Native artifacts
Geologically significant
Historically significant
Waterfalls
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Bird watching
Big Game Watching
Fishing
Horseback riding
Wildlife

Typically multi-day

No

Suitable for

Horseback

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

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