Located in Little Black Slough Nature Preserve, is a wonderful piece of wetlands landscape unique to Southern Illinois: Heron Pond. The preserve is part of the Cache River State Natural Area. Heron Pond is home to over 100 endangered and threatened plant and animal species on the Ohio River flood plain. These wetland locations are an important resource for migrating birds and other unique plants and animals and a prime location to view nature at it’s finest.
Hike Around Heron Pond
Hike the many trails that traverse the wetlands or enjoy the pristine views from a canoe. Fishing and hunting are also popular activities within the Cache River State Natural Area. Heron Pond ushers visitors into a wonderful semi-water world full of uniquely inspiring natural phenomena that you can only find in Southern Illinois.
Follow the tree lined path from the trail head that leads you down a terraced gravel slope. When crossing the trellised bridge, look to the North to see the confluence of two historical drainage waterways used to drain the area for logging at the turn of the 20th century. Markers along the trail give education-seeking tourists information on the historical background of the area.
Though the trail is not handicap accessible, it is easily navigated with a stroller for toddlers and is an easy hike for older children. The boardwalk keeps your feet dry while giving you prime views of the swamp land preserved for future generations. Look for herons, snakes, or frogs that make the Southern Illinois wetlands home. Hike an extra ¼ mile to check out the gigantic State Champion Cherrybark Oak Tree and take in all that Southern Illinois has to offer on this scenic family-friendly hike.
The old bald cypress and water tupelo trees and being the largest natural area owned by Illinois State, makes this endangered wetland area a perfect resource for the avid bird watcher. Visit Heron Pond to view an array of raptors including the barred owl, the black vulture, and the red-shouldered hawk. A host of songbirds, like the Kentucky and yellow-throated warblers, also make this wildlife area their home.
Directions to the Trail Head
Take Karnak/Belnap Road from Karnak, Illinois, for 5 miles. Turn Left onto Heron Pond Road and follow the road for 1 mile. Trail head will be well marked and pay attention to the signage for Heron pond and Little Black Slough Nature Preserve..