Wednesday, October 24

Cedar Creek Wonders

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature Cedar Creek Wonders in Shawnee National Forest (this unofficial trail is not on the forest map). Directions: From Tunnel Hill village, go south, cross US 45, and continue straight ahead (Mt Gilead Rd) for approx 6 miles. Just past the church, turn left on Gum Springs Rd. Travel about 2-3 miles to a concrete bridge and note the parking area on the left. Cedar Creek divides the canyon. Take the user-made, half mile trail on your right (north).

We follow a pretty continuous cliff line along with 3 shelter bluffs. Note the solid yellow buffalo petroglyph along the last shelter bluff. The trail seems to end at a huge boulder. It would take a strenuous effort to overcome this obstacle. Upon re-tracing my route back to the car, note a faint trail which can take one to the top of the cliff line for a view over the canyon during leaf-off.

The River to River Trail crosses this area. I followed it west on the south side of the creek for over a mile but no prominent features were noted. It will come out again on Gum Springs Rd about 3 miles further north. I also followed it east from the parking area. There is an unmarked junction after a quarter mile: turn right, cross a bridge, and ascend uphill. No prominent features were noted after a couple miles. A future article will describe another trail in Cedar Wonders which also includes a free-standing natural bridge.

More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or John O'Dell at 252-6789
Photo courtesy of the River2River hiking group. See more photos of this scenic area at

2/12/2012: learned something new. The river to river trail continues east across the road and then ascends uphill on the right; However, if you continue straight ahead on an old railbed, Hogg Bluff awaits. As we walk for a mile and view distant cliff lines, we come to an isolated knob partially surrounded by a creek and a pretty semi-circle cliff line. Bushwhack along this line or ascend the knob for a great view. I am told this railbed will go to Cedar Falls at Camp Ondessonk. One can also get off here and follow south on a user-made trail along ravines and frequent cliff lines to the same falls;However, this involves frequent creek crossings. I also note that people can take US 45 from Harrisburg to Ozark General store, go another 1/2 mile and turn on Gum Ridge Rd to the trail parking area.the coordinates for hogg bluff are n37.29.742 and w88.45.467.

Piney Woods Ravine Nature Preserve

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature Piney Woods Ravine. An article on this area was published in 2001-2 but has disappeared off our website and the Shawnee newsletter archives. This is a re-print.

Directions: Travel west from Murphysboro on Rt 149 to Rt 3. Turn right (north) and drive approx 15 miles. Look for a brown sign as you approach the Randolph County line. Turn right on to Hog Hill Rd and continue up the switchbacks. You will soon arrive at a junction-follow Rock Crusher Rd for several miles until the sign appears again for the preserve. Another 3 miles will bring you to its parking lot.

We start out along a line of trees to an open field. Turn right and find the signboard at the woods. This trail is well-marked as we descend the canyon. We arrive at a junction and note this is a loop trail. Go straight ahead and cross the creekbed. Upon doing so, take the spur trail on the right to visit the petroglyphs. Return to the main trail and hike north and east thru the woods. It finally descends into another canyon with waterfall cascades, stone glades, and pretty cliff walls. The trail ascends and now becomes a rim trail with frequent views down into the canyon. We arrive at our initial junction, turn left and return to the parking lot. I estimate our loop as 2 miles. An alternate route to this place is to follow Rt 4 to Campbell hill, il and note the sign for the preserve,turn left onto Rockcrusher rd. Go approx 5 miles until the sign for turning onto the road for the preserve.GPS coordinates are N37.8881 and W 89.6837.

More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 Photo courtesy of Monika Plumb.