The Shawnee Challenge

Shawnee Challenge

Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions page for the Shawnee Challenge. Please feel free to contact us today if your question(s) is not listed or answered below.


What is the Shawnee Challenge?

The Shawnee Challenge is a 10-mile adventure trail challenge open to everyone of all ages and abilities. Participants are encouraged to hike half and mountain bike the other half for the best results of participating in the challenge. However, if participants wish to bike the entire route or hike the entire route, that is okay as well. This challenge uses Avenza Maps for participation which is free and available for iOS and Android. This challenge is 100% free, self-support, and there is no time limit.


How much does it cost to participate in the Shawnee Challenge?

The Shawnee Challenge is free. This challenge is completely self-supported with no time limit. The award that participants can earn comes from Southernmost Illinois Tourism who pays for the supplies and shipping materials. This challenge was created to promote tourism in the area through adventure trail use. The challenge is free to everyone who wishes to participate without any strings attached.


What do you mean by self-supported and no time limit?

By self-supported, we mean that there are no staff members and volunteers who put on this challenge. Participants will participate in this challenge on their own and at their own risk. No time limit means that there is no start or end date. You may complete half of the challenge one day and the other half the other day even if it takes a few years to complete, that is up to you. You are responsible to recording the challenge, providing your own gear and equipment, and so on.


Do I have to bike and hike to participate in the challenge?

No. While we strongly encourage you to bike half and hike the other half, you could just hike the full trail or bike the full trail, instead if that is what you want to do.


What is this about an award?

Once you complete the challenge and you provide proof of competition (through the free Avenza app), you can request a Shawnee Challenge Sticker that only participants who complete the challenge will get. The sticker is free and will be mailed to you at no cost. Your mailing address must be within the United States.


Can you tell me more about the trail the challenge is on?

The trail is a combination of Shawnee National Forest and Dixon Springs State Park trails. These trails are officially designated for hiking and mountain biking, only. The trail conditions can be moderately rugged at times, especially when wet or frozen. You are strongly discouraged from mountain biking on trails when they are wet as it can damage the trail system and require a lot of money to repair. It is best to complete this challenge when it is dry. Conditions on the trail will include creek crossings, switchbacks, hilly terrain, rocky terrain, and narrow single-track conditions. Please share the trail and wear a helmet when mountain biking.


Are there any safety concerns I should know about, first?

Yes. Please see our Safety Page for more information and tips on safely completing the Shawnee Challenge.


What kind of bike should I use, and should I bring any gear for the hiking and biking portion?

A mountain bike is highly recommended for this challenge whether a full suspension or hard tail (up to you and your preference). Your bike should be in working and safe condition before you participate. You are encouraged to wear a helmet for safety practices. Bring plenty of water and snacks if hiking or biking and please PACK OUT WHAT YOU PACK IN and help us keep our Public Lands clean! For hiking, we recommend wearing comfortable and sturdy outdoor-specific footwear. Bring a camera because there is a lot to see in this area.


Do I have to use the trails on the Challenge Map?

Yes, you must follow the designated trails on the Shawnee Challenge Map provided on Avenza. Do not use undesignated trails.


Who created this challenge and why was it created?

Shawnee Challenge was created by Shawn Gossman of Hiking with Shawn and Southernmost Illinois Tourism. The challenge retains partnership with the US Forest Service, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Shawnee Mountain Bike Association, and Friends of the Shawnee National Forest. The challenge was created to promote hiking and mountain biking activities in the Shawnee National Forest and state parks as well as tourism for the Southern Illinois region. Be sure to check out the many great local shopping, dining, and lodging businesses around the area for a fun unique experience.

The Shawnee Challenge is an effort created in part by:

Hiking with Shawn
Southernmost Illinois

In Partnership With…

US Forest Service