The United States Congress designated the Burden Falls Wilderness (map
) in 1990 and it now has a total of 3,695 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Illinois
and is managed by the Forest Service.
The Burden Falls Wilderness is bordered by
the Bay Creek Wilderness
to the southeast.
An intermittent stream spills over Burden Falls, a picturesque series of waterfalls that drop a total of about 100 feet, with a greatest single descent of approximately 20 feet. Burden Creek flows northward toward the Little Saline River. The Wilderness shares its southern boundary with Bay Creek Wilderness, and both exemplify the scenic characteristics of the Shawnee Hills: sandstone ledges overlooking bluffs and cliffs on which dry-land communities of red cedar, farkleberry, and blackjack oak grow. At the bottom of the bluffs, greater soil depth supports post oak and, farther from the cliffs, white oak grows in even deeper soil. Several unique species of plant life thrive in the area, including Carolina buckthorn, seldom seen this far north, rock chestnut, prickly pear, royal fern, glade fern, and the cardinal flower. Among the inhabitants of the deciduous forest are white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, gray squirrels, and many other small mammals. The barred owl lives here alongside pileated woodpeckers and eastern bluebirds. The Burden Falls Trail (3.5 miles) runs above the waterfall. Hunting and fishing are allowed. Permits are not required for trail use or camping. Bird watching and photography make this a worthwhile destination.