Hike, Bike, Paddle & Ride: A Shawnee National Forest Adventure
Discover the Shawnee National Forest by canoe, foot, horseback and bike as you enjoy expert-led excursions, spot wildlife and gather ‘round the campfire to learn the region’s story.
Rating (5)
Program No. 13605RJ
6 days
Starts at

At a Glance

The hidden gem of Southern Illinois is a close-kept secret of outdoor enthusiasts filled with deep canyons, waterfalls, rock-bottom creeks and cypress swamps. Hike, bike, paddle and ride on horseback through oak-hickory hardwood forests, open pastures, sandstone canyons and the northernmost cypress swamp in America. naturalists interpret the area’s natural and cultural history where north, south, east and west overlap creating one of the most biologically diverse regions on the continent.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Spirited
Hiking 5 miles over hilly, wooded, and rocky terrain. Paddling for 3+ hours on flat water in a canoe or kayak. Bike riding 15+ miles on flat to downgrade railroad bed. Horseback riding three hours: one hour of instruction, two-hour trail ride.There is a strict 225lb weight limit for our horseback riding programs. Participants must be physically fit enough to mount and dismount a horse with little or no assistance. Good core strength and balance are a must. Back, legs, and joints must be in good condition. Riding is not a sitting activity; you use your entire body. Those who have trouble walking long distances or standing for long periods of time will probably have trouble riding a horse.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Hike through oak-hickory forest and sandstone canyons to the highest free-falling waterfall in Illinois.
  • Bike down an 1800s-era railroad grade through scenic countryside and ride horses through Camp Ondessonk's rolling pastures and wooded hills.
  • Paddle through an ancient cypress swamp watching for bald eagles and spend your evenings exploring the nocturnal world and gathered around the campfire as you rest for the next day’s adventure.

General Notes

Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.
Featured Expert
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Shandril Dayton
Shandril Dayton’s love of horses began after her family adopted a yearling Thoroughbred and she has acquired experience in many aspects of the horse industry including training, doctoring and breeding/foaling. She attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale and graduated with a degree in animal sciences. After working as a wrangler on a guest ranch in Wyoming, she returned to southern Illinois to join the Ondessonk staff as the full-time equestrian coordinator. Her favorite part about working with horses is sharing her passion with others.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Shandril Dayton
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Catherine Limkeman
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Suggested Reading List
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