Tuesday, April 28

Ranbarger Hollow Trail

Continuing with our monthly series "Adventures with Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature the above trail in Bald Knob Wilderness. See http://illinois.sierraclub.org/shawnee/unclebob/adventures.htm for other trails in that wilderness. Directions: Frrom the south end of Alto Pass, Ill., turn off Rt 127 at the sign for Bald Knob Road. Travel about 4.3 miles on this winding tar road and look for a parking area just uphill from the horse ranch.

We start out on the River to River Trail and soon reach a junction on the left for Ranbarger Trail (#204). The Shawnee National Forest brochure says the trail is 3 miles, but I calculate it at two. The salient feature of this trail during leaf-off is that of a ridgetop backbone trail with continuous views down steep ravines on both sides of the trail. Occasionally, one will be walking in deep gullies filled with leaves. The first junction has Bald Cross Trail on the left. That one has even steeper views of ravines but the trail becomes less discernable after 20 minutes.

Continuing on Ranbarger, the trail winds up and down but not steep. At a ridgetop (about 1 mile), note an unmarked junction-go left and head downhill. It is rocky tread for a short distance. There are few trail signs but the direction seems obvious. At 1.8 mile, another unmarked junction on the right-the sign is laying on the ground: go straight ahead and now steeply descend downhill for a short distance and come to an old Forest Service fence and creek. The Forest Service has extended the trail on the left to cross a deeply eroded creekbed; However, once across, the trail is obliterated by a huge downfall. I traced the route back to the car. The trail is only worthwhile during leaf-off and overgrown with weeds on the trail from May-October. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or robkay43@webtv.net. GPS coordinates at the parking area appear to be 37 34' 08"N and 89 21' 42" W

Sunday, April 12

Garden of Gods Update

Many people who visit the Garden of the Gods Recreation Area are unaware of a roadside natural bridge in the immediate area. While checking an article on Garden of Gods Wilderness area on our website: http://illinois.sierraclub.org/shawnee/unclebob/adventures.htm , we have made an oversight of this feature in the article. Directions are as follows: Take the entrance road to the GOG parking area wherein lie the main trail and picnic area. Look for a small parking pull-off with a rail fence. After parking, cross the road and climb up the hill approx 50 yards. On a recent outing, we measured 23 ft wide, 18 ft high, 12 ft thick, and an average of 5 ft away from the cliff line. GPS coordinates 37 36' 04.02" N and 88 22' 42.7" W

Things have dissappeared on the website cited above so here is the details on the whole area. From Harrisburg,ill., take rt 145 to rt 34. turn left and proceed thru Herod,ill. for another 4 miles and turn left on Karber Ridge rd. Follow this road a few miles until the sign for the above area. Turn into the entrance road and go to the main parking area. A one mile loop partially paved trail starts here that will take you to numerous rock formations, many cliff tops for views over surrounding ridges, and free standing boulders. Afterwards, note the trail on the northwest end of the lot that will take you along unusual rock formations. If that is not enough, walk the river to river trail downhill from the parking lot,and parallels the road, for an interesting cliff line and all of the slot canyons. It also goes past the forementioned natural bridge. Formations in this area include Camel Rock,Devils smokestack, Chimney rock, Table Rock, and Fat Man's Squeeze. If you came to this page from our new website at http://illinois.sierraclub.org/shawnee, the picture on the home page is this place. Make a day of it and also explore Indian Point Trail and Hitching Post trail, by scrolling to them on this blogsite.