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

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