Did you know there are places we pass by everyday that hold stunning natural beauty?
One of these places is in Giant City State Park, just yards off the main road. Obscured by trees, this wet-weather waterfall is fleeting, even after a heavy downpour. Winter though freezes this waterfall, letting you admire its structure.
The only problem is that this waterfall is not described in any park brochure nor is it known by many outside the climbing community. To locate this icefall find the Shelter #1 parking lot a short distance from the western entrance, which is close to downtown Makanda.
During a warm spring weekend, this lot is full of anxious climbers and rapellers, but in winter you may have it all to yourself. An open section of the massive sandstone bluff gleams with wrinkled cracks. It is just beyond this open area, that the forest reclaims the sandstone. This is were a climber-made trail leads to a recessed area that holds this “secret” waterfall.
At around 8-10 feet tall this waterfall is not the tallest in Illinois, but the steep cascade has cut a deep grove in the sandstone, that makes it unique among Illinois waterfalls. The plunge pool below is shallow, but its surface area shows just how much water can flow through this area.
Because of its “secretive nature” and lack of a maintained trail, there is no trail description, but people who have found it describe its muddy and slick tendencies, so if one expects clear, open walkways avoid this area.
Word of Caution
Winter weather posses risks that one must take precautions against. Layered clothing can keep you warmer than one big layer. Wet cotton clothing cools body temperature faster, which can lead to hypothermia. Since there is no maintained trail you are on your own. Visit at your own risk.
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