Tuesday, February 27

Adventures with Uncle Bob: Trail of Tears State Forest

This is a further installment of the ongoing series, "Adventures with Uncle Bob" -- a guide to outdoor recreation opportunities in southern Illinois.

A Hiking Guide to Trail of Tears State Park
Directions: Take IL Rt 127 south from Alto Pass. After approximately 5 miles, look for a brown sign and turn right on this county road. You are now on a scenic road that winds through a canyon and eventually ends at Rt 3 by Wolfe Lake. Watch for a sign that says "North Forest Road". (This road is closed to auto traffic from mid-November to April 30 each year.) This well-maintained narrow road is one-way (east to west) and winds through forested ridgetops for roughly 5 miles. Near the end, it descends through a pine plantation and into a tree nursery. After another half mile you will come to the county's North Forest Road.

This area has abundant picnic facilities and accomodations for equestrians. Along the way you will find frequent views into ravines. Note the numerous signed fire and horse trails (sufficient parking is available at each). I hiked a number of the trails, but did not observe anything that I couldn't view just walking on the road. Equestrians have a trailer parking facility on the county road one-half mile west of the forest road sign. An access trail from that facility leads to the trail system and road.

Drive further on the county road to the picnic area and sign to locate South Forest Tower Road. This is also a one-way, traveling west to east. This road similarly traverses forested ridgetops for three miles and ends at the county road. No horses are allowed on this one. There are also a number of picnic and restroom facilities.

I found the South Forest Road to show more scenic views across ravines than the North Forest Road. While one can drive a vevicle on this well-maintained road, walking the road enhances the total experience. It has a number of fire and hiking trails. Note the gated old fire tower. At the picnic area, you can hike a shorter route to the fire tower on the Heritage Trail; however, that trail is very steep.

Trail brochures for this area are available at the White Barn visitor center and also at any US Forest Service ranger station. For more information on this destination, contact "Uncle" Bob Tyson at 684-5643 The GPS coordinates for the parking area to climb up to south forest tower road are 89 21' 41.36"W and 37 28' 49.36"N. An editor labeled this area wrong. This is Trail of Tears State Forest. The Trail of Tears State Park is 10 miles north of Cape girardeau, Missouri.
3-29-13: 3 of us went up north forest road up to the open area near a sharp left turn which has hunter check station,picnic tables,restroom. we went out on the trail there called Main street north-trails 21-30. we want #26. At the first jct-go left.  Ignore 26B. later go go right at the next jct( lost trail). We have traveled about 1.2 miles so far. We soon bushwhack off our trail 26. Note ribbons and logs on the ground in a V shape. Follow the ridge as it veers northeast and we are in for an experience! Soon we are on a razorback trail approx 6 ft wide with steep ravines on both sides and great views over the countryside. At some point the ridge will make a sharp descent, so we turned around and returned to our departure point. It was worth going off trail. By the way, note that this north road is closed from January thru April and/or turkey season.

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