Southern Illinois’s Giant City State Park is one of our top picks for kid-friendly hiking trails. Most of the hikes are short, not too steep, and avoid dangerous drop-offs. The trails keep kids interested with unique rock formations, shallow creeks, and small shelter caves. If you are up for a slightly more rugged trek, consider viewing the wildflowers and rugged bluffs by hiking Giant City State Park’s Trillium Trail.
Giant City State Park Trillium Trail
- Distance: 1.2 mile loop
- Difficulty: 3.5/5. A few rugged sections plus rock steps and a wooden staircase.
- Scenic Value: 4/5. This is a great hike that passes along and between rugged bluffs and rock formations. Seasonal wildflowers as well.
The Trillium Trail is located in the far northern part of the park along Stonefort Road. This portion of the state park is actually part of the Fern Rocks Nature Preserve. This preserve protects upland forest, cliffs, and bedrock outcrops. It also has one of the best wildflower displays in the state.
Starting the Trillium Trail Hike
The trailhead and parking is located on the west side of the road. It’s not a huge parking area, but there is enough space for about 8 cars or so. A wooden sign marks the trail. This sign states the trail is 2 miles long, but it’s really only 1.2 miles according to both AllTrails and our GPS tracker.
You can hike the trail either direction. Turning left to hike clockwise is the standard route and I feel the views are slightly more dramatic with the bluffs more in front of you. However, if you hike counter-clockwise and turn towards the right to start, the climb up the bluffs is more gradual.
Reaching the Trillium Trail Bluffs
Hiking clockwise the trail quickly heads straight to the bottom of the bluffs. Wildflowers cover the ground on both sides of the trail in spring and early summer.
This trail is definitely more rugged than most of the other trails at Giant City. The path is narrow and rocky, but very beautiful. The trail is filled with lush vegetation such as ferns, flowers, and towering trees.
The trail then circles around the base of the bluff and crosses a wooden bridge.
The path then runs closer to the road for a short distance before reaching my favorite part where the trail passes between a large rock on one side and a curved cliff on the other side.
The trail climbs an interesting set of stone steps before nearing the creek. Kids may wish to take a break and check out the shallow and clear creek.
The trail passes by even more unique rock formations and small shelter bluffs. I just couldn’t stop taking pictures as the combination of the rocks and the lush vegetation presents a striking scene.
Climbing up the Trillium Trail Bluffs
After passing by more bluffs and a wooden bridge, the trail starts the most difficult section. A short, but steep climb begins up to the top of the bluffs. The trail first climbs a set of stone steps, followed by a wooden set of stairs.
Once you reach the top of the wooden steps, the trail is much easier and mostly flat as it follows along the top of the bluffline.
The trail mostly stays well back from any cliff edges. There are also gorgeous wildflowers in this area.
Completing the Trail Loop
Closer to the end of the loop, the path does reach a short section near a bluff edge. The trail becomes closer to the edge right before crossing a wooden bridge over a crack in the rock. Keep kids close on this stretch as it is a long ways down.
Just past the wooden bridge the trail makes a gradual descent back down the bluffs. The path turns to run parallel to the road as it leads back to the parking area.
Additional Things to Know:
- There are no restrooms at the Trillium Trailhead, but there are vault restrooms at many other locations throughout the park and flush restrooms in the Giant City Lodge or Visitor Center.
- You can print a map of the park here
- Our other favorite hikes at Giant City include the Giant City Nature Trail, Devil’s Standtable, Post Oak Trail, and Indian Creek Nature Trail.
- Park hours are 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily (trails close at dusk.)
- The park offers camping as well as several types of cabins for an overnight stay.
- Kids will love a stop at Boo Castle playground while in the area. Just a 10 minute drive from Giant City, this castle themed playground is amazing.
- Be sure to always pack out what you bring in, leave nature as you found it, and practice Leave No Trace principles.
Have you ever hiked at Giant City?