Palmyra couple’s book details places to visit in Shawnee National Forest

Palmyra couple’s book details places to visit in

Donna, Mag and Larry Mahan pose for a photo with their new book “20 Day Trips In and Around the Shawnee National Forest" at the couple's arboretum in rural Palmyra.

Donna and Larry Mahan (and Mag) pose for a photo with their new book “20 Day Trips In and Around the Shawnee National Forest” at the couple’s arboretum in rural Palmyra.

By Daniel Winningham
Earlier this year a couple from Palmyra had an informative book published that provides places to see in the Shawnee National Forest.

The book, “20 Day Trips In and Around the Shawnee National Forest,” was written by Larry and Donna Mahan and published in April 2013.

Larry and Donna recently discussed the book and what makes that part of the state of Illinois so unique.

“Donna’s from that area and Donna’s mom and step dad live in the area yet and so we would visit them and while we were there, a little bit bored, we’d go out there and take a hike or a trip.

“Being from this part of the state, I’d never heard of that area – the Shawnee National Forest, nor had I heard of places like Snake Road, Pine Hill, Giant City and Garden of the Gods, so we started hiking the trails, and the more we did, the more we enjoyed it, and so then we started to look for books that would guide us to the next spot, and there were very few, and most of them were in black and white, and most of them were out of date.

“One day, we were just kind of talking and thought, ‘It’d be nice if we wrote a book to really guide people here with colored pictures and all, and so we started doing it, and that took a year or so.

“… We stopped into the SIU-Carbondale press and came up with our thought, and they said, ‘Do a chapter and bring it back.’ We did and they said, ‘Yes.’”Shawnee National Forest

Originally from Cobden, which is south of Carbondale, Donna attended SIU-Carbondale but didn’t really know a great deal about the Shawnee National Forest, which encompasses nearly 280,000 acres.

“I knew some of these places growing up there but actually not that many,” she said. “We found as we were on the trails and talking to people, that’s not atypical. A lot of people, even local people, do not know all of the places around that are really interesting and when we were on trails we would generally see people from other areas (other than Illinois) to walk the trails.

‘It’s been a really neat hobby. It took us several years to visit all the places. Larry would get on the Internet and research places and then we’d narrow it down to what we were going to use in the book.”

To read more of this story, see our e-edition.