FERNE CLYFFE STATE PARK
Ferne Clyffe State Park is in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest and located in Goreville, IL. The River to River Trail coincides with the Happy Hollow Trail through the length of the park. Ferne Clyffe boasts of Hawk's Cave -- a huge rock overhang, a natural bridge, numerous overlooks, a stream worthy of one in the Cumberland Plateau, rock bluffs and, in the summer months, a carpet of beautiful wildflowers.
With over 700 species of plants native to the park, Ferne Clyffe State Park is truly a paradise for nature lovers. Covering almost 2,500 acres of the majestic Shawnee Hills, Ferne Clyffe derives its name from the abundance of lush ferns that carpet the area. Ferne Clyffe State Park is also one of three Illinois State Parks to offer rock climbing.
George Rogers Clark and his contingent purportedly passed through or near Ferne Clyffe on their trip to Fort Kaskaskia in 1778. One hundred years later, the Cherokee are reported to have used the area as their hunting range while on their Trail of Tears march. Two Cairo brothers purchased a part of the park known today as Hawks' Cave/Big Rocky Hollow in 1899 and called it Ferne Clyffe because of the ferns that grew in such abundance. The area soon became known for its beauty and was eventually sold to Miss Emma Rebman, a local school teacher and Johnson County school superintendent. Miss Rebman opened the park to the public on Sundays for a 10-cent admission. Ferne Clyffe soon became a popular attraction, and local entrepreneurs began to provide transportation from the Goreville train depot for an additional 10 cents. In 1929, Miss Rebman offered to sell the park to the state of Illinois. Additional efforts by conservation and political groups such as the Greater Egypt Association and the Illinois Redevelopment Board resulted in the state's purchase of Miss Rebman's 140 acres in 1949. Today, Ferne Clyffe State Park covers 2,430 acres of the majestic Shawnee Hills and is visited by more than 200,000 nature lovers each year. Natural Features Impressive rock formations can be seen from almost all of the park trails, but two of the best-known sights are Hawks' Cave, a 150-foot-long shelter bluff, and a 100-foot-tall intermittent waterfall on the Big Rocky Hollow trail.
Flora and Fauna
It would be nearly impossible to list all of the plant life that thrives in the park--there are more than 700 species! Flowering dogwood, redbud, serviceberry, spicebush, sumac, sweetgum, maple, oak, hickory and some of the woodland wildflowers create an extraordinary color backdrop for recreational activities in the spring and fall. Late April and early May are particularly good times for viewing the springtime color show. Fall foliage is at its best in October. As you walk the trails, you can expect to see squirrels, rabbits, doves, quail, and bluebirds and other songbirds and an occasional wild turkey. Special Features: Rock climbing Hawks' Cave shelter bluff 100-foot waterfall on Big Rocky Hollow hiking trail 18 marked hiking trails Horseback riding Ferne Clyffe Lake Camping and backpacking Visit Ferne Clyffe State Park year 'round and enjoy its spectacular woodland beauty. The 53-acre Round Bluff Nature Preserve is not to be missed.
Call 618-995-2411 for more information.