Two large shelters in the main picnic area are ideal for reunions and group gatherings at Trail of Tears State Forest. Two smaller rustic log shelters are suitable for small groups. Each picnic spot contains a table and grill, with privies and drinking water nearby. A ball diamond and smaller playing areas are also present. Other picnic sites exist along the forest's gravel roads.
The fire trails are open all year for hiking. There are hiking trails at Trail of Tears State Forest, including one designed for cross country running. Other trails pass through hills and valleys where one can appreciate the lush vegetation and abundant wildlife. See the trail map link below.
Trail Map: Trail of Tears Map 2021.pdf
Horseback riding is permitted along designated horse trails. Access and trailer parking are available at the equestrian trailhead along the county blacktop road. Horseback use and horse trailer parking is not permitted on or along roads or fire trails (except where those are part of a horse trail), on hiking trails or anywhere south of the blacktop road. The horseback trails are open for use from May 1 to October 31. These trails may be closed temporarily in the event of heavy rains during the riding season; it is best to call the site for a current report on trail conditions (618-833-4910). A detailed map of the horseback trails is available upon request, and can be found at the link below.
Horseback Trail Map: https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/Parks/Documents/TrailofTearsHorseMap.pdf
Motorized vehicles and bicycles are not allowed off paved or graveled roads. All-terrain vehicles are prohibited. In winter and early spring, gravel roads are closed to vehicles.
Both Class C (tent camping with vehicle access) and Class D (backpack) camping sites are available at Trail of Tears State Forest. Some locations have log shelters with adjacent privies. Group camping is available at a few sites. The forest's gravel roads are closed to vehicles from December 24 through the end of the spring wild turkey hunting season (generally the second week in May). All camping access is by foot only during that period (Class D). For information on group camping or special access concerns (during the winter-spring months) contact the site superintendent headquarters at (618-833-4910). Campsite reservations are available through the ExploreMoreIL website.
Squirrels, deer, turkey and raccoon are common game species at Trail of Tears State Forest. Please be aware of the areas closed to hunting: the Ozark Hills Nature Preserve, the restricted area around the main picnic and day-use area, within 300 yards of any building or the tree nursery beds, or within any road right-of-way. Hunters must report their harvest at the Hunter Registration box at the White Barn. Please observe all state and federal regulations when hunting the forest. For additional hunting information see the Trail of Tears State Forest Hunter Fact Sheet: https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/hunting/FactSheets/Pages/South.aspx