The United States Congress designated the Lusk Creek Wilderness (map
) in 1990 and it now has a total of 6,352 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Illinois
and is managed by the Forest Service.
Rugged terrain and winding canyons characterize Lusk Creek, unusually diverse topography for Illinois. This Wilderness protects broad, relatively flat ridge tops and terraces overlooking narrow ravines and deep sandstone gulches. Throughout you'll find sheltered caves, sinkholes, and sheer rock walls rising, at some points, 200 feet above the creeks. Lusk Creek itself ranks as one of the state's highest-quality streams. It runs year-round, one of several waterways that do so in the area. Anglers can fish the stream for bass and bluegill. You may find small tracts of old growth timber and spring wildflowers, including wild columbine and French's shooting star. Indian Kitchen Trailhead, located on the west side of the Wilderness, provides a small parking lot. This 1.5-mile trail begins across the road from the parking lot and leads to a precipice called Indian Kitchen, located at a hairpin turn in Lusk Creek Canyon. Evidence reveals that humans used the "Kitchen" in prehistoric times, perhaps as long as 10,000 years ago. The 160-mile River-to-River Trail, completed in 1996, crosses Illinois from Battery Rock on the Ohio River to Devil's Backbone Park on the Mississippi and provides a pathway across Lusk Creek Wilderness. The trail touches all seven Wilderness areas on Shawnee National Forest, and the 18-mile section from Garden of the Gods Wilderness across Lusk Creek has been called the least-civilized piece of the Midwest. The hiking may be a little more strenuous than in most of Illinois. Permits are not required for trail use or camping. Several non-system trails exist, therefore map and compass use is recommended.