Experience the rugged, natural beauty of the Ozark Hills with your doggo at the Trail of Tears State Forest! Located just 5 miles northwest of Jonesboro, this 5,000-acre site is pawfect for a walk in the woods with Fido or a weekend camping trip with the whole family. Used by prehistoric Native Americans in the past, the area is now managed for watershed protection, ecosystem preservation, and outdoor recreation.
The state forest contains a number of hiking and fire trails for you and your adventurous pup to explore. Open all year round, many of the trails pass through hills and valleys that showcase the area's abundant flora and fauna. Trail of Tears boasts a variety of plant communities thanks to its diverse terrain; black oak, hickory, American beech, sugar maple, and sycamore are just a few of the tree species that you and Fido will encounter as you follow the trails. During springtime, you'll be greeted by various woodland wildflowers that are native to southern Illinois. Over 600 kinds of flowering plants and ferns have been spotted in the forest, so be sure to bring your camera! Don't forget to carry water and clean-up bags as well.
Trail of Tears is also home to several species of mammals and songbirds. Keep your eyes peeled for flying squirrels, red foxes, white-tailed deer, opossums, and coyotes. The venomous timber rattlesnake and northern copperhead can be found in the forest, too, but don't really pose a threat if they are left alone. For your pooch's safety, keep them on a leash and under control at all times. If you need to rest your feet and paws, picnic tables in the main picnic area and along the gravel roads provide spots to take a break. If you would like to spend more time in the forest, Trail of Tears offers class C and D camping sites where you and Fido can stay overnight.
For a puptastic time in the great outdoors of southern Illinois, look no further than the Trail of Tears State Forest!