Tuesday, January 13

East Trigg Trailhead

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature this River to River Trail section (trail 001 or blue "I" on signs) which connects East Trigg trailhead with Bay Lake.

Directions: From US 45 at Ozark, Ill. turn left and follow the sign to Trigg Forest Tower; However, the trailhead parking area is approx 3 miles north of the tower and will be on your right. Watch closely since there is no sign on the road itself. Alternate directions are from I-24 Tunnel Hill exit. Follow thru Tunnel Hill, cross US 45, and follow to Rt 147. Turn left, go a few miles, and watch for signs to Trigg Tower. Again, the trailhead is north of the tower.

Cross the road after parking and we head east. The first 1-1/4 mile is steadily downhill, but not steep. Nothing of interest is noted. This is an old forest service road. As we approach the big culvert under the elevated railroad bed, the trail is rocky for a short distance. Go thru the culvert-now the trail is narrow, but flat. The next mile or more is impressive. We are running parallel with the railroad track, averaging about 75 ft above us. Below the tracks, we are continually viewing either a cliff line or steep ravine. In some places, vegetation is over the trail but the path is discernable (don't come here in tick season). At a later point we have a confusing junction: Note the gate on the right. You need to turn left and cross the small creek on stepping stones. Continue straight ahead on the roadbed and reach the junction with county road 463. This spot is marked with R-R(River to River trail) signs both ways. If you want to continue on R-R to Cedar Grove Rd, continue straight; otherwise, turn left and go 1/4 mile to Bay Lake. If you drive up from county 2 off Rt 147, you better park here at this junction and walk unless you have a jeep.

The Bay Lake area is very interesting. We are on top of an extensive rock glade. Below the glade are isolated rock formations, featuring a slot canyon. A trail continues across the top of the dam affording scenic views high above the lake. Upon crossing, there is no indication where this unsigned trail leads. I turned around to retrace the route back to the car. At the railroad culvert, note trail 049 heading north. That trail had some similar cliff and ravine views until I found it blocked by downfalls at some point: it may go to Jackson Hollow. While here, drive over to Trigg Tower and climb to the top for fantastic views.

At the junction of two roads near the tower, there is a wide trail which will join the R-R trail after 1/4 mile. It will go to Cedar Wonders on Gum Spring Rd. Nothing of interest was noted on this section except for one view of a steep ravine. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or robkay43@webtv.net. There is confusion as to whether GPS coordinates are for the trailhead or for the fire tower,but try this:37 30' 0"N and 88 42' 30"W. Upon second visit,be aware that you will get wet trying to cross that creekbed after a wet spring. o7/07/2011. when tree cover is thick,it can be harder to see the parking area on trigg tower rd. If so, look for the river to river trail white and blue marker on the opposite side of the road from the parking area as your hint to look for the opening. On a further note, the brown sign at us 45 and Ozark, may say bell smith springs instead of trigg tower: turn left here no matter what. 10/05/2011: The Forest Service states that the coordinates at the tower are 88 44' 10.08"W and 37 29' 15.90"N.

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