When The Shawnee Reveals Its Bones

Winter on The Shawnee Hills Wine Trail 

Shawnee Hills High Rise - Old Stone Face Trail

When November approaches and the woodlands offer their colorful spent leaves to the forest floor, the secrets of The Shawnee National Forest are revealed. The now barren trees allow for an unobstructed view of the bones of The Shawnee National Forest. The hidden treasures of beautiful slot canyons such as Panther's Den Wilderness Area, pathways of creeks and rock tumbles leading to sculpted waterfalls, and spectacular rugged bluffs are now laid bare waiting to be discovered.

The locals always know. Hiking season for many doesn't begin until the leaves have fallen and the last of the ticks, mosquitoes, and chiggers have disappeared. Heat and humidity - be gone!

Dressing in layers is a smart choice. Your exertion and outside temperatures deem whether or not to layer up or layer down. Remember, hiking or walking in colder weather is good for your heart and good for your soul.

December's frosty breath calls and whispers tails of cascading waterfalls displaying magnificent icicles, twisting frozen tendrils reach down towards blue, ice crusted pools of water. Some touch the pool while others hover, creating winter sculptures. Caution is always stressed when hiking anyway but always keep your distance from below the icicles and watch your footing.

A frozen waterfall is the winter prize

Wine, beer, antiques, shopping, art; they have no season!

Cozy comfort at Rocky Comfort Cabins
The Shawnee Hills Wine Trail stays open the entire year with some wineries having shortened hours.
The anchors of the wine trail, Blue Sky Vineyard, StarView Vineyard, Alto Vineyards, Owl Creek Vineyard, and Von Jacob Winery are open year round, seven days a week.
Some wineries do have shorted hours, but are well worth coming back for if you missed them. Hickory RidgeHedman Vineyards, Pomona Winery, Honker Hill Vineyard, Kite Hill Vineyards
Spending a romantic afternoon lingering over a glass of wine with some appetizers sounds absolutely splendid.

Scratch Brewery in Ava
Southern Illinois not only has an excellent wine trail with award winning wines, but it also boasts blossoming breweries that have their own unique craft beers. The Southern Illinois Beer Trail is worth adding an extra day so your palate will not be denied so many individual flavors.

Being the eclectic area that it is, southern Illinois is home to some fantastic local artisans along with an array of cool antique shops and boutiques in every town. The Makanda Boardwalk, downtown Cobden, Carbondale...treasure troves abound.

The "Off Season" is the "In Season"

Another secret for those in the know? Making southern Illinois your winter getaway is sure to ease the frenzied nerves after a whirlwind of a year. (Can you say Total Solar Eclipse?) Winter is a wonderful time to escape with that special someone and remember how to savor life.

Along all the trails the crowds have thinned, the lines are shorter, and the pace has slowed. Hiking becomes more invigorating with the crisp air and the odds of sharing a path or a waterfall or far less. Did I mention? No Bugs!

Wine tastings at the vineyards are just that - wine tastings. Now you can actually take the time to swirl, smell, and taste! Especially during the week, the owners and staff can sometimes have a little more time to walk you through what type of grape was used for their featured wine or suggest a tantalizing dinner pairing with that full bodied Chambourcin.

Find The Perfect Place to stay for your Romantic Getaway

Makanda Inn and Cottages
What is your idea of a winter escape? The perfect romantic winter getaway can be a secluded cabin in the woods, a quaint bed and breakfast, or even a suite in one of the wineries. Many places to stay have a cozy gas fireplace and some have toasty hot tubs usable all year long. All of the Cabins and Bed and Breakfasts along The Shawnee Hills Wine Trail are privately owned vacation rentals. Privacy, lush amenities, and personal touches will enrich your experience when visiting southern Illinois this winter.

Share a romantic candlelit dinner at a local restaurant, fill up a back pack and hike one of the many trails of the beautiful Shawnee National Forest, or linger over a bottle of wine at one of the unique vineyards on the wine trail. Reserve your winter escape today. 

Browse these links for accommodations:


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