Downstate Illinois Road Trip Roundup - Stunning Views Of Fall Foliage in Southern Illinois

Downstate Illinois Road Trip Roundup - Stunning Views Of Fall Foliage in Southern Illinois

Posted on 09/29/2021 by Cela Cashel

Regional road trips are all the rage right now. Many folks feel most comfortable hopping in the car with their loved ones and exploring sights that are off the beaten path. Some of those sights may even be in your own backyard! For plenty of regional travel ideas, check-in every Wednesday for a Downstate Illinois Road Trip Roundup on themed topics showcasing several destinations across the southern portion of the state. With fall officially upon us, we are shining a light on some of the best places to admire the gorgeous fall foliage in our area of the state!



Enjoy the Midwest’s best kept secret, this fall, by visiting Effingham, where vibrant autumnal views abound! Take in the change of season from Effingham’s trail system, TREC (Trail Recreation Effingham County). This trail was designed to create recreational opportunities for the public and provides a great, safe place for visitors to both stretch their legs and appreciate our rich landscapes. There are five unique trails that connect to one another, offer views – high and low - and cross interstates and rivers, alike. TREC is a great way to take in some fresh air and connect with nature... That, and its fall foliage creates the perfect backdrop for an Instagram photo! Effingham also boasts beautiful views of Lake Sara in the fall. Pack a picnic (and a sweater) for lunch near the dam, where you can take in the leaves changing color, or tote the entire family over to their brand-new playground, where Mom can relax and enjoy the crisp, Autumn air, coffee-in-hand, and the kids can run off their cabin fever. Do you enjoy shopping with a view? October is the Effingham Farmers Market’s last month on the historical courthouse lawn... and perhaps its finest hour. With fall leaves crunching underfoot, apple cider and hot coffee flowing, and pumpkins and gourds piled up high, the farmers market is the essence of fall in Effingham. You won’t want to miss this view of Downtown Effingham.  Our city is beautiful and busy in every season, but we must admit, fall paints us in a different, more stunning light. We invite you to see for yourself this season... 




The seasonal changes in fall create some of the most beautiful nature scenes there are, and ILLINOISouth is no exception. There are several places to admire the beauty of southern Illinois this autumn. Bluff Road runs through Monroe County and Randolph County and drives along the bluffs, providing beautiful scenery of the leaves changing colors. The colorful views from the observation points at Salt Lick Point, Fults Hill Prairie, and Fort Kaskaskia in Monroe and Randolph counties are enough to take your breath away. In Marshall, Lincoln Trail State Park gives you stunning views of their American Beech woods and wildflowers, which are even more beautiful in the fall. The park also has activities such as boating, fishing, and camping available for you to enjoy. The view of East Forest Lake in Olney is sure to blow you away. The trees covered in red and orange leaves lining the clear blue water of the lake is a sight you will not soon forget. Head to Miller’s Grove Park to watch the town’s beloved white squirrels scamper around, and take a walk through the Robert Ridgway Bird Haven to get an up close and personal look at the beautiful fall foliage. We hope you will take a moment to admire the beauty of ILLINOISouth as the seasons change!

*Photo Credit - Curt Simshauser Photo Cinema


Southernmost Illinois

The sprawling canopies of Shawnee National Forest cover the landscape of Southernmost Illinois. In the fall, hickories, red oak, and sassafras form a tapestry of yellow and orange, while trees like white oak settle into a deep red. All of it makes for a perfect time to hike among the trails or take a trip through Shawnee  Hills Wine Trail. With hues of red, yellow and orange abounding, the U.S. Forest Service is urging people to get outdoors, spend time in the rural communities and forests, and enjoy one of nature's most spectacular seasons, October through November. The Shawnee National Forest (Shawnee) invites you and yours to visit during the beautiful fall season to enjoy some favorite nature based activities. Whether hiking one of the Forest’s many trails, camping, fishing or enjoying one of the Shawnee’s many outdoor related interpretive programs, now is a perfect time to plan your next adventure! Garden of the Gods Recreation Area in Herod takes the cake. The best vantage points can be found atop 300 million year old towering rock formations. From these ancient bluffs, you'll be soaking up breathtaking panoramas of the Shawnee National Forest. For the best vistas, come here at sunset.  For more ideas visit:

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