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High Knob Trail is a great short trail to fill in a day hiking the parks on Karbers Ridge.

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919' 280 m


801' 244 m


116' 35 m


118' 36 m



Avg Grade (3°)


Max Grade (8°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Cave · Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly Lots of nooks and crannies in the rocks to climb in and explore.


High Knob used to be a nice National Forest park with a fire watch tower at the top and a picnic area down among the base of the bluffs. It is located in an area known for its views of the rolling hills and huge rock bluffs. But over the years, it was neglected and forgotten. It was in such bad shape that the park lost its official designation and all funding was cut off.

I've been promoting the trail for a few years trying to renew interest, and just yesterday, I went to map it for the Hiking Project in a last chance effort to get people back to this park. That's when I met two Forest Service workers who told me it had regained it's official park designation and work was being done to restore the old trail. It's coming back!

Need to Know

Drive right through the horse camp. It is a public road. You don't have to stop at the office—that's for horse stuff. Stay on the main road and to the left.


The first thing you need to know is the road up to High Knob is through a huge horse camp. They own both sides of the road and use it all. But this is a public road. Looks private but it is public. Stay on the main road and to the left. Soon you'll see a forestry sign for High Knob that goes into the woods and up hill. Drive to the very top.

At the top, you'll find nice parking for 6-8 vehicles or more if parked along side of the road. This parking spot also has an iconic vista view of the Karbers Ridge hills to the west. On the left you'll find the concrete bases of the old fire watch tower. There's a few picnic tables up here too.

For the trail, head back down the road a few hundred feet and you'll see a brown hiker sign and the entrance to Trail #105. Almost right from the start on #105, you'll head down some old CCC-built rock stairs. Careful here, some are loose. Once at the bottom, look up into the bluff cut for a nice little cave/tunnel you can crawl through to the other side or just stay on the trail if you don't like having fun.

Continuing on #105, you'll be following the base of some very tall bluffs. You're among giants here. Take it all in. You might also notice old fire pits scattered around from this park's former glory days. This is a short trail. Take your time.

Nearing the end of the western facing bluffs, Trail #105 turns up a small crevice with rock steps and heads back toward the parking lot. you can end your adventure here if pressed for time. Want more? Stay on the main trail, which is now Trail #105A.

Trail #105A takes you around the backside or eastern side of High Knob. I'll be honest, it's not quite as exciting as what you just saw. But it's beautiful in it's own way. So, staying on #105A, you'll soon come to an old rotten set of wood stairs. Stay off those! You can scooch down the small rock ledge just to the side. I did use the edge of the old stairs for balance as I went down. Hopefully they'll be replaced soon.

Continuing on past the old stairs, you may start to question your decision to take #105A. It gets better the farther you go. Then you hit this spot that's just magical. Straight in front of you'll be large split bluffs, small fissure caves, and it's always bright green from the moss. The trail kinda meanders through the fallen boulders in a cool way.

Not much farther and #105A turns up a small fissure with rock steps and heads back up to the rear of the parking lot. That small 200 foot section is the only part I would consider strenuous. But it's over now. Have a rest on the picnic tables and take in that gorgeous view.

History & Background

High Knob is an old Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) built park and forestry fire watch tower for the Karbers Ridge-Shawnee National Forest area. The tower is long gone but the base is still there. Some of the old CCC work is still there too.


Shared By:

Ed Glass

Trail Ratings

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  4.0 from 3 votes
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in Illinois


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1,328 Since Jan 30, 2019
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Old stairs looking back
Jan 30, 2019 near Elizabe…, IL
Cool small tunnel/cave you can crawl through
Jan 30, 2019 near Elizabe…, IL
#105A goes right up through the boulders here. In contrast to the west side, this area is always bright green. There's a couple small fissure caves here too.
Jan 30, 2019 near Elizabe…, IL
This trail walks right along the base of these bluffs
Jan 30, 2019 near Elizabe…, IL
The view from the top of High Knob
Jan 30, 2019 near Elizabe…, IL
The trail just meanders through.
Jan 30, 2019 near Elizabe…, IL



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