Wednesday, December 10

Fountain Bluff Update

Recently I planned to hike on the river trail in Fountain Bluff. After one-fourth mile there now is a gate across the old rail bed and no tresspassing sign. This pretty trail runs between a continuous tall cliff line and frequent views of the Mississippi River and bayous. I sent a letter to the owners about permission to hike. Check this blog index for a previous update on Fountain Bluff canyon. A good overview of trails in Fountain Bluff can be accessed at our website: Scroll to Fountain Bluff and Tyson Canyon. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or i do have permission from the owner, however since the 2008 inland hurricane, the trail is demolished. Further updates on fountain Bluff: GPS coordinates for the top of Fountain Bluff road are 89 29' 58.95"W and 37 41' 36.85"N. The coordinates for the township road running along the base of Fountain Bluff are 89 29' 58.91"W and 37 41' 56.51"N.

Blue Hole Trail

Continuing with our series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature the above trail this month. Find directions from this blog index for Peter Cave Trail. Again, we park at the River to River trail crossing on Cedar Grove Road, go east, and 1.5 miles later, arrive at a junction with two trails: Peter Cave and Jackson Hole. We take trail #497 (Jackson Hole). The sign says 2.2 miles to Petticoat Junction.

This Shawnee National Forest trail is adequately marked. While not level grade, it is not steep. We eventually reach Blue Hole after approx 1.5 mile. The creek water does have a blue reflection. This is a pretty cliff line, confined to a small area. Cross the creek on stepping stones to walk the base of the line. On the right, note the long line of shelf overhang as well as the small cave to the left. There is a pole line to tie up horses. Trail #497 goes north from here to Jackson Hole-still says 2 miles and a steep climb. I went one mile on it and did not that the trail is well-graveled on top-a lot of work went into this endeavor.

Back at Blue Hole, I took trail #496A. This pretty rim trail continues to parallel the creek until it seems to end at a creek crossing. Cross it on logs and arrive at Petticoat Junction. There is nothing of significance at that area. It is literally a junction of 3 trails. #496 does continue north. I turned around and returned to the car. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or .GPS coordinates at Petticoat are 37 29' 44"N and 88 36' 39'W.

Wednesday, November 12

Indian Bluff Trail

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure," we travel across the border to visit Indian Bluff Trail in Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park.

Directions: Cross the Shawneetown, Illinois bridge on Rt 13 and the highway changes to Kentucky rt 109. Follow for 53 miles to Dawson Springs, Ky. Pick up 109 again in town and travel 10 miles to the park entrance road. Park at the lodge. The trail starts on the road to the right of the swimming pool.

The PNT trail will double with our trail for a while. Indian Bluff starts as a moderate climb thru Oak-Hickory forest and then levels off to a pretty, extensive cliff line. The trail passes thru a large shelter bluff and then descends to the valley floor and golf course entrance. Cross the road, continue on Clifty Creek Trail along the streambed. We travel along the base of a long ravine, dense vegetation, and fields of ferns. Go left to arrive to arrive at Pennyrile dam. Walk on top of the dam and ascend to your parking lot. Our journey was approx 1.5 mile.

There are 5 other trails in the park: descriptions suggest 4 are nature trails and 2 are strenuous. While in the area, we were in the Jones-Keeney Wildlife Area attempting to locate the natural bridge without success. Later, I am led to believe that one should go west on US 62 about 10 miles from town and turn at a cementary, ascend the road and look to the southeast of the plot. While traveling to the park, why not also visit Mantle Rock Nature Preserve (88 ft natural bridge):

For further info, contact Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or

Thursday, October 9

Peter Cave Trail

Continuing with our series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature the above trail this month. It is unclear whether this is on Shawnee National Forest land or that of a willing landowner. Respect the "keep out" signs on the side trails and land.

Directions: Tunnel Hill exit on I-24. Follow thru Tunnel Hill, cross Rt 45, and proceed to Rt 147. Turn left and go several miles, and look for Cedar Grove Road (just before the Rt 145 junction). Turn left and proceed approx 2.4 miles, keeping your eye out for the River to River Trail crossing signs. Park on either side of the road and walk east (right) on the R-R trail. It starts out as a narrow trail thru pine plantations for 0.5 mile. Now we encounter an old forest service road-turn left. 0.5 mile later, we reach Crow Knob Ecological area. This is a pretty, circular bluff, although brush impedes circling the bluff at its base. You can walk on the top. Continue another half mile to a couple marked side trails. One is trail 497 to Jackson Hole; the other is for Peter Cave (no trail number). I estimate the distance to the cave as 1.1 miles. It seems to be adequately marked; however, there is a stretch of trail heavily damaged by horse traffic and no way to circumvent it. This trail is level grade up until the end approaches. Now we suddenly descend into a valley where beautiful tall cliff walls form a "U" shape configeration. Note the pole line where you can tie up horses. Climb up 30 ft to enter this huge rockhouse/shelter bluff (not really a cave). I estimate the length at 200 ft, depth at 75 ft,and 30 ft high. Take time to also hike along the base of the cliff line. Two other trails from Hayes Creek Canyon terminate here too so make note of your trail as you return to the car. Remember to turn right upon reaching the junction with R-R trail.I cannot find GPS corrodinates for the cave;However,here are the ones for crow knob which you pass on the way to the cave:37 29' 55"N and 88 37' 56"W. During a 2010 Sierra hike in the winter,there was a 60ft waterfall flowing over the top of the cave-spectacular!
I have forgotten to deal with the ownership issue. The trail and cave are private property according to the owner I ran into during a Sierra hike.  He said it is open to the public-just don't go off trail or leave trash.

I'll deal with Jackson Hole trail in the future when finding an easier access is found: Trail 497 is a real "gut buster" in the first 2 miles. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or

Wednesday, September 17

Walk-Away Trail

Continuing with our series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature the above trail in Lake Murphysboro State Park. Directions: From Murphysboro continue west on Rt 149 for a few miles and watch for the brown park sign. Upon entering, come to a "T" junction and go right. Continue east about a half mile and turn left into Big Oak campground where there is parking at the trailhead. I estimate this moderate level trail at approximately 2 miles total. This trail lacks for maintenance, judging by vegetation over the trail, downfalls over the trail, and rotting wood bridges; However, it is clear enough to follow.

The trail traverses a valley surrounded by ravine walls and climbs to a ridgetop. We cross a park road and continue on with similar features. Upon crossing another bridge, note a side trail on the left (a bench is close at hand). I took this side trail for a half mile until it disappeared. The prominent features are unobstructed views of extremely tall trees.

Back to our junction at the bridge, turn left and continue the main trail uphill where it becomes a ridge trail with continuous views of the valley floor. We reach Razorback Point. Follow the staircase to the floor. Turn right, and traverse the valley for a while until it climbs back up to the top of the ridge, making a loop at the intersection. Turn left and follow the trail back to the parking lot. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or
Or check out the state park at and click on lake murphysboro state park.

Wednesday, August 20

Dutchman Lake Trailhead

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature a section of the River to River Trail which starts near Dutchman Lake and terminates on US 45.

Directions: Take I-24 to Tunnel Hill/Goreville exit. Turn left and travel approx 2 miles and watch for Dutchman Lake Road. Travel on that road approx 4 miles and continue past the lake entrance to Bowman Bottoms Road. Turn left, go under the freeway, and come to an unmarked old Forest Service road. Either park roadside or on the small lot with the ecological area sign. Note the R2R trail marker about 100 ft up the hill.

As the trail ascends moderately, we pass a small bluff line. Further along, we cross several utility right-of-way clearings, affording us distant views across valleys. Next we go around a small lake and start a descent into a steep valley. We arrive at Big Bay Lake. The trail continues on top of an earthen dam. Note the dark brown cliff wall carved out from the hill. Next we cross Tunnel Hill bike trail. A nice overlook of the valley floor can be had from the nearby bridge. Continuing on, we traverse some scenic ravine views and our trail becomes a rim trail over a bluff line.

Near the end, our trail is on private property (no tresspassing off the trail) and we end up by residences on US 45. My time for this journey was one hour and 40 minutes. Across from US 45 is a building with a sign -"Red Rooster." It appears that hikers could park there if one wants to travel the opposite way on the trail. I turned around at this point and retraced the route back to the car. The trail is wide and well-marked. One note of caution on this return: On the second to last power line crossing, look for a sharp right turn (R2R sign on a pole); continuing straight ahead would take you on an endless circle. GPS coordinates at the midpoint appear to be 37 29" 39"N and 88 50"31"W. When i was here again Sept.,2010 some trail markers are missing so i abandoned the effort. The R-R trails group said they would deal with it. Another approach would be to take the Tunnel Hill bicycle trail 2.5 miles to the 90 ft tressle and get off onto the trail either left or right.During a hike 02/13/2011, it is noted that signage is repaired. If you started from us 45 going west, once you approach the second urility rightaway,turn right and walk the rightaway for 1/8 th mile or so, then turn left and reenter the woods(r-r sign is there); likewise, if you started near Dutchman lake going east, look for the clearing after the crossing of the bike trail. Upon approaching the clearing,go straight ahead and turn left on the obvious path and look for the r-r sign to re-enter the woods. Another adventure is to walk the bike trail from Tunnel Hill for 3.2 miles and then get off on the River to river Trail. The bike trail will cross 3 tressles, including one that is 90 ft above the the valley.

This section is also noted in the River to River Trail Guide Book. Photo courtesy of the River to River Society. Further information from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or

Tuesday, July 15

Amidon Conservation Area

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventures," we feature Cedar Glade Trail in Amidon Conservation Area. This area was featured in the Shawnee newsletter in late 2004; however, it has disappeared on the website and newsletter archives. Here it is again.

Directions: Cross the bridge at Chester, IL, and take Mo 51 thru Perryville, Missouri. Continue on 51 south for a few miles to County J (look for the fire tower). Drive approx 10 miles on J, look for the brown Amidon sign, and drive 0.9 mile on Rt 208 to the parking area. Cedar Glade trail is one mile in length. The Castor River, over time, has cut into the pink granite rock to create gorge-like chutes between the narrow shut-ins. The trail is at times both at river level with roaring cascades, as well as above it, becoming a rim trail on stone glade. At a point where the trail makes a right turn to leave the canyon, take a side trail for an overview of a gray granite glade which looks like a jigsaw puzzle put together. There must be 50 acres of this glade.

While this may seem like a short trail to be worth the drive, why not combine this with two trails at Perryville: Perry County Community Lake loop and Ball Mill Natural Area. Descriptions of both at: coordinates are 37' 33.099 latitude and 91' 47.469 longitude. As of May,2009 there was an inland hurricane with substantial damage here-better call a dept of conservation office in Cape Girardeau first to see if it has been restored.

Amidon area is further described in the book: Conservation Trails-A Guide to Missouri Dept of Conservation Hiking Trails. Further info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or

Monday, June 16

Cedar Wonders North

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we re-visit Cedar Creek Wonders in Shawnee National Forest. A previous article featured the south end of this area and is indexed on this blog. Now, we visit the north end. From Tunnel Hill, Illinois continue south to the junction with US 45. Go straight ahead and set odometer for 2.4 miles. Turn left onto this narrow gravel road and go approx 2 miles to its end. There is enough parking for 3-4 cars but don't block the gate.

This trail starts out as a rocky wet gully between woods and a field, then encounters a powerline clearing. Walk down the clearing and look for the River to River Trail signs (R-R ). Soon we are at the base of a cliff line. While on the signed trail, bushwhack about 50 ft off-trail to go thru a canyon maze and also view a 10 ft deep cave. Up ahead is a huge cliff overhang. Return to the trail and we descend to parallel the creek. This creek will junction with another creek from the west. The R-R trail crosses one creek to continue straight ahead. YOU WANT TO TURN RIGHT(note a lime green dot on a tree and my orange ribbon). Follow along this creekbed approx 0.2 mile and look for an obvious path to ascend to the base of the cliff line. You are in for a treat! We will travel along a continuous cliff line for the rest of the jouney on this user-made trail. Along the way, I found a rock tunnel, rock shelters,and pretty rock formations. Soon we encounter a waterfall over a rock shelter. After viewing, cross the creekbed and continue the trail.

About a mile later, we cross another small creek and ascend a faint trail to a junction. Both segments are marked with a green dot. Go left. We are going to see a free-standing natural arch about 15 minutes away. Along the route, look above you for a small arch sandwiched between two cliff layers. Our destination is the natural arch. I measured it at 8 ft high, 6 ft wide, and 3-4 ft thick. I have not continued beyond this point and re-traced the route back to the car. Upon return, be sure to note the junction with the two green dots and make the descent to the right(miss this and you could get lost).
I estimate the distance from the car to the arch at 2.5 miles. The trail has continual short ascents and descents. The trail tread is rocky since it follows the base of thee cliff lines. Optimal views of the opposite sides of the canyons are best after leaf-off. on 3-2-11, upon reaching the natural arch, we found out that you can continue straight ahead on the trail and it will descend to th creek and hit the junction with the River to River Trail. Turn north(left) on it and have a shorter route back to the trailhead, rather than returning via the canyons you followed to the arch.
More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or You may also contact John O'Dell at 252-6789. There is no map of this area from the Forest Service.

Monday, May 12

Fountain Bluff Trails

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature an update on FOUNTAIN BLUFF in Shawnee National Forest. There has been two previous articles on our website ( which highlighted several trails in this place: Tyson Canyon, Mississippi River Trail, petroglyphs, and Happy Hollow Road. Now an additional feature is accessible which I will name Waterfall Canyon.

From Murphysboro, take Rt 149 west to Rt 3. Turn left and travel to the village of Gorham. In town, turn onto Second Street which will become Fountain Bluff Township Road. As you drive along the base of this tall bluff line for a mile, look on the left for a small parking area with a 5 ft waterfall. As of May, 2008, someone has put up ladders to enter the canyon. I don't guarantee that vandals could walk off with them. Despite the effort to climb up to the canyon floor, you will be rewarded with 3 big rock shelters, a waterfall cascade, a user-made trail between canyon walls on both sides, and a spectacular view of the moss-covered walls converging to a width of 5 feet. Upon narrowing, note the natural stairsteps continue to ascend as far as you can see. I did not follow up very far as the cascade made the surface slippery.

02/20/2012: Great views on top of Fountain Bluff road and its obsedrvation points over the river. However, don't go up here in late summer/early fall. Ragweed infestation almost covers the road and obstructs ravine views on both sides of that road. Previous storms opened the canopy to cause the growth. Forest Service will not deal with it. From Rt 3, take Happy Hollow rd to the top of this mountain.
04/16/12: Since the rest of the info on this area fell off the former website, let me elaborate here. The first place is Tyson Canyon. Upon turning onto Gorham rd from rt 3, go a half mile and park across the road. walk in on the farm lane until you note the trail sign to go to the tall cliffs. Nice shelter cave. Next is a detour around the 2008 storm damage to the lane and then back onto the cliffs again. Another shelter cave and unique rock formation are next. Turn into the canyon for views of steep ravines, a cave, and finally, a creek side walk to the waterfall in the cul-de-sac. Return to the car. Drive out 2nd street, or go 2 miles thru town to Foutain Bluff road( road goes between 2 farms). Park at the waterfall. Enjoy walking the road to take in the great endless cliff views. When you see an isolated grove of trees on the north side of the road, look across the road for a user-made trail to the petroglyths. GPS 37 42' 40.5"N and 89 28' 52.1" W. Back in the car, return to rt 3, go south and look for Happy Hollow rd to ascend to the top of Fountain Bluff.

For further questions on this area, contact Bob Tyson at 684-5643

(Photos courtesy of the SIU Student Environmental Council)

Wednesday, April 9

Rice Hollow Trail

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures with Uncle Bob-Guide to Outdoor Recreation in Southern Illinois," we feature Rice Hollow Trail.

Directions: Travel south from Herod, Ill on Rt 34 to Karber Ridge Road. Turn left and follow to the town of Karber Ridge and note the turnoff sign for High Knob Recreation Area. Follow High Knob Road, continuing past the horse ranch, and look for the Rice Hollow sign at the bottom of the hill. Turn onto this lane and park where possible without impeding traffic from a farm further up the lane. The sign says trail #137 and also horse trail #109. Upon inquiry with the Forest Service as to why several trails have dual numbers or why trail numbers do not match what is printed on the maps, I have yet to receive a clear answer.

The first 0.2 mile is deeply rutted due to horse traffic during damp weather; however, the problem eventually becomes diminished. A long pretty cliff line appears and stays with the hiker for the next 1.5 mile. We encounter overhanging blufftops, slot canyons, and two caves behind cliff columns (see picture above right). There have been no further trail markers but the tread is obvious. As the trail descends, we now have cliff lines on both sides of the trail. The trail will cross a narrow creek several times but stepping stones are plentiful. Eventually, both cliff lines converge to a width of 30 ft and we cannot easily continue.

As I start re-tracing the route, an unmarked trail to the right is noted. Soon into this trail, a pretty cliff line appears. The shelter bluff is estimated at 80 ft in length. The next feature is an odd shaped boulder. Continuing further, there is a sign saying you are on horse trail #110 (see picture, above left). This would eventually end at Buzzard Roost on the River to River Trail (#001A). This becomes steep and hard to discern at some point. Rice Hollow is also supposed to be accessible from off #001A going west from High Knob trailhead but that spur trail is hard to follow. I continued to re-trace my route back to the car.I cannot find coordinates on this location, however the ones for the nearby horse camp is 37 36'0N and 88 20' 0"W

There appears to be no publications on Rice Hollow Trail. You may not want to do this one in early spring when creek levels are up. For further information contact Bob Tyson at 684-5643, or John O'Dell at 252-6789 (River to River Trail Society) 10/01/2011: that unmarked spur is the second left turn-don't turn on 137 or 137a. the shelter cave is known as robbers cave.

Wednesday, February 27

Cache River Trails

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures with Uncle Bob - Your Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we highlight the Cache River State Natural Area and National Wildlift Refuge. Directions: Take I-57 south to the Ullin exit. Travel approx 10 miles to Rt 37. Turn north on 37 and go 2 miles to the parking area for section 8 boardwalk access. This short walk thru swamp ends with a view of the state champion Water Tupelo tree. Continue north on this road to Barkhausen Wetlands Center (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays). The center has an impressive display of the natural and cultural history of this wetland. Note that the Tunnel Hill bike trail starts here. Backtrack a short distance and turn right onto Perks Road. At the first access area, turn in to note two eagle nests in treetops. Drive further on the road to the sign for the Lower Cache Access Area. Restroom and picnic facilities are here. One handicap accessible trail takes one to an observation platform over the swamp and a view of the state champion Bald Cypress. Back in the parking area, take the 2.5 mile swamp trail for a more intimate setting, bisecting Cypress and Tupelo swamps. Views are more limited in the first mile due to a forest of 8-20 ft tall Canebrake.

Drive back to the junction with Rt37 and Ullin road and turn left on to Rt 169. Near the town of Karnak, turn left onto Urban (formerly Porterhouse) Road. This delightful road goes 2 miles thru the middle of a swamp, crosses the bike trail, and comes to Big Cypress Tree Trail. Close to the parking area is the 1,000 year old Cypress tree with a base circumference of 40 ft.  correction: it is 1.3 miles to the access parking.

Take Rt 37 north to Rt 146, turn right and proceed to the sign for Wildcat Bluff. Follow this road about 6 miles (well marked) to the parking area. This is the Upper Cache River section. Two trails start here. The one mile observation trail on the left offers rim top views into the Cache River bottoms during leafoff. Note the pretty cliff walls and rock shelters below the trail. You will encounter one spot on the trail as an unmarked junction: go right on the spur trail to reach an overlook. Return to the trail and continue until it ends in a brush pile. Backtrack to the starting point at the signboard. Just to the left of the concrete wall is an easy place to descend to the cliff base. The signboard indicates that the other trail going west travels to Boss Island and Heron Pond. Expect to get your feet wet due to creek crossings. On that trail, I noted another place to descend to a nice shelter bluff line at the second DNR tree diamond.

Leaving this place, turn on to the road which takes you to Rt 45. Along the way, there is an unmarked fork: go right. At Rt 45 turn right and go to Belknap Road. Along the way to Belknap, there is a sign for Heron Pond swamp. (This was already described at Click outings and then scroll to the bottom for self-adventures with uncle bob.) At Belknap, follow the sign to the Cache River Natural Area office and then follow the one-lane road to the parking area. Two trails start here at Marshall Access. The Tupelo trail says 2.4 mile loop. After a mile, the loop starts at a junction. Take the left fork and descend the cliff line to the swamp with picturesque Tupelo trees. Forget the right fork-poor signage. Back at the parking area, the other trail heads northeast. Except for a pretty cliff line near its beginning, the remainder is a walk in the woods.

05-25-13: some of you have gotten lost upon leaving Heron Pond to access other areas. The road goes to Belknap. A sign points to the state natural area to the right. If you want to continue west to big cypress and lower Cache access, go straight ahead on this unmarked paved road which runs to Karnak. At stop sign,turn right. now you are on rt 169. The big cypress sign will be approx 1 mile out of town. Thereafter,continue on rt 169 to Rt 37. 

Trail brochures are available at Shawnee National Forest offices and any Cache River visitor center. More information from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 The GPS coordinates for Wildcat Bluff are 88 55' 46.32"W and 37 22' 35.05"N. The coordinates for Heron Pond are 88 54' 35.80"W and 37 21' 12.93"N. The coordinates for Big Cypress access are 88 58' 59.61"W and 37 18' 33.69"N.

We are eliminating the old website so Heron Pond is described here on this page. The signboard at the parking lot for this preserve says "no dogs on trail". Walk downhill and cross the bridge and turn left. We are on an easy 0.5 mile trail which runs along the side of the creek/swamp and brings us to the boardwalk. This will take you deep into the swamp and the water is often a vibrant lime-green color as far as you can see. Cypress and Tupelo trees abound as well as the Heron rookeries high up in the trees, as well as the bald knobs that protrude from the water surface. After that, walk another 0.25 mile ascending up to the state champion Cherry Oak Bark tree with a huge diameter. Upon return, there is a trail junction;However, both bring you back to the bridge. Restroom facilities are here. 05/08/2012: the section 8 boardwalk is back open and repaired.

Tuesday, January 29

Lusk Creek Wilderness

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures with Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," this article takes us to the north section of Lusk Creek. A previous article on this area covered the southern section, also known as Indian Kitchen (see

Directions: take Rt 145 south from Harrisburg. A few miles north of Eddyville look for the turn for Circle B ranch. When this tar road curves right (south), you need to go straight ahead on a narrow, unsigned, gravel road. Travel approx 3-4 miles and look for a trailhead parking lot. Walk across the road and start the hike for trail #481. The sign says 1 1/4 mile to Saltpeter Cave and 1.5 mile to Natural Bridge. Prior to August, 2007, this trail was a 6 inch wide horse-damaged mud hole with numerous, user-made junctions. Now we have excellent tread and user-made trail junctions have been roped off (plus explanation signs).

The trail gradually descends and passes steep ravines. At one point we encounter an unmarked "T" intersection. Mark this spot so you don't miss it on the way back. Go right-the trail is rocky for the first 1,000 feet. Later we travel along bluff lines on both sides. Another unmarked fork appears. Don't take the one going uphill. We arrive at a junction with Lusk Creek. You have a choice of turning right for Saltpeter Cave or cross the creek on stones to visit Natural Bridge. I made a loop of both, bringing me back to this spot. Across the creek, a pretty cliff line awaits us as well as the bridge. It appears to be 50 ft long, 4 ft high, and 30 ft thick. Trail 481 ascends to become a rim trail. Note a junction for Secret Canyon: I walked a mile or more on the latter thru woods. There was a fork where one path took me to trail #001 (river to river trail) and the other went to a ravine bottom with no further signs. Trail 481 comes to a junction with trail #457. Turn right and travel a short distance to Saltpeter Cave. For a closeup views, one needs to cross the creekbed. Walk both ways along that cliff line to view 3 major shelter bluffs (cave is the wrong term). Cross back and continue #481 a short distance to another creek crossing. Upon crossing, note another unmarked junction-go right on #486. We soon close our loop next to the Natural Bridge creek crossing. Turn left and follow #481 back to the car.

If you are ambitous for a long prettier hike and don't mind getting wet, here are the directions to the same forementioned features: Park at the Circle B ranch trailhead. Walk south 100 ft and take trail #001. After 40 minutes you arrive at Lusk Creek. Turn left onto trail #457 and follow this muddy, narrow trail to Old Guest Farm Creek Crossing. Trail #457 will continue north on the other side of Lusk Creek and junctions with #481 about an hour later.

Back at our parking lot for trail #481, I note that this county road travels further east to provide access to #457D and #483, but a high clearance vehicle or jeep would be advisable. Ask for the green Shawnee 2007 Interim Trails map at ranger stations for further assistance. More information from Bob Tyson at 684-5643. Due to creek crossings, I would avoid this hike during early spring.

GPS coordinates at natural bridge 37 32' 8.13"N and 88 32' 48.25"W
3/20/2012: The trail on the south end has disappeared from the website so i am re-writing here. From Eddyville, turn onto Golcanda road and go 1/2 mile to the first right turn. Drive 2 miles to the parking lot on the left. This will be a 2 mile walk thru woods until reaching a rock glade. Before you descend to Lusk Creek, go right and discover a short ledge trail that brings you to a cave in the cliff for a birdseye view over the gorge; Otherwise, go down to the creek to look at this amphitheater shaped steep canyon wall and stream forming a hairpin turn. Unusual plants found here. Return the way you came.