Ferne Clyffe State Park - Waterfall Hike

Ferne Clyffe state park waterfall - Popular tourist attraction in southern IllinoisWOW!  The waterfall hike out at Ferne Cliff (Clyffe) State Park is now on the must see list for any visitor to Southern Illinois!  I am somewhat embarrassed by the fact Ferne Cliff is close to where I have been living for the past 14 years and just now getting around to seeing it?  What a mistake I’ve made.  The park offers all types of adventures; backpack camping, hiking, fishing on Ferne lake, climbing, lots of pavilions with playgrounds and it is all very well kept.  I will try not to digress away from the waterfall hike any longer, but Ferne Cliff State Park is a great place to visit while vacationing in Southern Illinois.

On to the waterfall hike!

Ferne Flyffe Hiking Path - Tourist attraction for southern IllinoisIf you’re looking for one of those picture perfect hikes often seen in travel brochures where the kids are playing in a small stream and great views behind them, the waterfall hike at Ferne Cliff (Clyffe) is it.  All along this hike there are great rock formations that just beg to be explored up close. 

When we arrived Saturday morning I was surprised to find it moderately busy.  We had no problem finding a parking spot, but I did get the impression it could get very busy Saturday afternoon during good weather.  My wife, having hiked here before during the week was also surprised by the pace.

The Hiking Path

Ferne Clyffee Illinois State Park Rock Formations Along Waterfall HikeThe hiking path is nicely coated with small brown rock and is wide enough to easily accommodate several hikers walking side by side.   There is a very slight grade over the course of this .75 mile trail, but nothing to worry about.  I would consider this path wheelchair and stroller friendly or as friendly as I have found in the Shawnee National Forest area.

The Journey – Why It’s now a Favorite

The path travels next to a stone covered creek where it seemed around every bend there was something visually enjoyable for myself and lots for my kids to explore.   There was no shortage of great rock formations to view or stones to be tossed into the creek.  At times I felt surround by these great formations on both sides and could of spent several minutes there studying them if it were not for my kids wanting to get to the waterfall.  

The Waterfall

Bridge at the waterfall hike at Ferne Clyffe State Park - Illinois tourismI first spotted a 5 foot wide by 20 foot long bridge crossing over the small creek.  Then when I looked beyond the bridge, I realized we had arrived at the waterfall.  Having just rained the day before, the waterfall was plenty active.  During other visits, my wife and kids enjoyed playing in the water, but early spring it is still too cold.  Caution should be taken as directly below the waterfall it does get pretty deep. 

Climbing around the Waterfall

There are several paths up and around the waterfall that can be explored, but it did seem the higher these paths went the more difficult they became.  Caution should be taken, but I easily climbed 30 feet above the waterfall base without too much trouble.  Other hikers in the area at the time were able to navigate to the top of the waterfall within several minutes. 


Great hike with lots to see anytime of the year and please don’t wait 14 years like I did!

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