If you haven’t been winter hiking in Southern Illinois, you should. We have stretches of very mild weather during the winter and it’s the perfect opportunity to get outside. There are no bugs on the trails, the crowds are very thin, the temperature is great, and some of the overlooks are more spectacular because you can see further without the leaves. Try to select a trail, though, that’s interesting without the greenery, such as one with bluffs or waterfalls.
Alto Pass is a tiny town in Southern Illinois, about a half hour south of Carbondale. It’s claim to fames include the Bald Knob Cross (an 111 ft white cross that has additional great scenic views) and Alto Pass Vineyards (the first winery in Southern Illinois).
Following signs from Alto Pass for the “scenic overview,” there’s a picnic shelter and a cliff line to walk along with stunning views. Off to the South, you can see the giant Bald Knob Cross. The scenic overview is called “Cliff View Park” and is one of the best overlooks in Southern Illinois.
To the West of the overlook, there is a set of stone stairs carved into the cliff. This leads to the trail below. Alternatively, you can park at the foot of the cliff.
The trail used to be an old railway line. Today it runs .5 miles before ending at some private property. The trail runs between sandstone bluffs and the forest.
My favorite boys.
The overlook also happens to be the spot where Donovan proposed to be on Christmas Eve of 2015. It’s a great short hike and has some very happy memories for us.