Piney Creek Ravine is one of the best kept secrets of Illinois. Down in the ravine, you forget that you are in Illinois, and are reminded of the deep Ozarks of MO or AR.
The trail starts off with a grass road that goes for about a quarter mile, curves to the right, then after an intro sign, turns to dirt.
You descend down and down, then the trail takes a steeper turn with wooden planks as steps, until you come to the first creek crossing.
EXTREME DANGER... DO NOT ATTEMPT WITH KIDS... If you follow the creek to the left it takes you to the top of a wet weather waterfall, about an 60 foot drop. If there is not any dry ground do not attempt or you will slip and fall.
Or you can follow the trail as it descends down to the next creek crossing (You can backtrack to the left and go see the bottom of that waterfall, with giant boulder obstacles)
If you cross the creek and continue on, you will pass by the largest collection of petroglyphs in IL. Then the trail goes up and around to where you can look down into the ravine, where it goes down to cross the creek again.
At the crossing where I mentioned about the waterfall, and before the petroglyphs, there is also a trail that goes to the right, and through the ravine itself, where you see the most dramatic scenery. This is where I provided photos from, and also went with my 6 and 4 year old girls. Some spots are slick, but I would not try it after heavy rains.
You can see the erosion that has produces 'shut ins' as found in Missouri river areas. If you follow this way, no matter what side of the creek you end up on you will encounter a green marker and you climb back up to the right side (remembering you shortcutted the loop trail)
There is a spur with a dead end, but with careful eyes there is a green marker that warns of it but with faded permanent marker.
I give it a 4 star because the trail can be a little confusing at times, but, you can easily backtrack to the right track.