Little Grand Canyon


Little Grand Canyon

Over time, erosion has carved this deep box canyon exposing its majestic bluffs. A cool and lush bottomland habitat thrives on the canyon floor. Along the upper portions of the trail visitors encounter expansive views of the colorful cliffs, the Big Muddy River and the Mississippi River floodplain. The canyon floor showcases seasonal waterfalls, large sandstone overhangs and towering beech and sycamore trees. A 3.6-mile loop trail that has drastic changes in elevation - from 350 to 700 feet at the trailhead. In one 1/4-mile section the trails rises 300 to 400 feet. The trail follows rocky creek beds, winds next to sheer, majestic bluffs. From the higher elevations there are panoramic views of the canyon, the Big Muddy River bottoms and Fountaim Bluff. Interpretive signs explain the geological history.

Experience the natural beauty and heritage of the Shawnee National Forest. Protect the Forest for yourself and others.
Welcome to a rich hiking experience on the
Shawnee National Forest! While over 300
miles of trails are marked, 30 miles are for
hiking only. Trails traverse the hills and valleys
of the Shawnee Hills and the Illinois Ozarks….

Note to wilderness visitors: Please be aware you could face inherent risks of adverse weather conditions, isolation, physical hazards, and lack of rapid communications. Search and rescue may not be as rapid as expected.

At a Glance

Operational Hours:

All Year 6 a.m.-10:00 p.m.

Open Season: January
Closest Towns: Murphysboro
Restroom: Vault
Information Center: Surrounding Area: Pomona Natural Bridge, Cedar Lake, LaRue-Pine Hills/Otter Pond Research Natural Area, Clear Springs Wilderness and Bald Knob Wilderness.

General Information


Restrooms are accessible


From Murphysboro, take Highway 127 south 6 miles to Etherton Rd.; then west 6.4 miles.*
From Alto Pass, take Highway 127 north 8 miles to Etherton Rd.; then west 6.4 miles. *
From Murphysboro Work Center office, take 20th Street south 1.5 miles to Hickory Ridge Rd.; then south 5.5 miles to the site.
* At this point follow the directional signs.

Trail Markings: White diamond

Trail Ethics: Pack it in, Pack it out. Stay on the designated trail and leave the beauty of the rocks, plants, and animals for others to enjoy.

General Notes:

2 picnic units



Parking, accessible restrooms, picnic area with grills, and interpretive signs. Site closed 10:00 pm to 6:00 am (day-use only).

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

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Day Hiking

Portions of the trail require moderate climbing

Difficulty Level: Intermediate to Difficult

Horse Riding & Camping

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  Area/Length : 
2.9 miles

  Latitude : 

  Longitude :