Thursday, February 25

Hitching Post Trailhead

Continuing with our monthly series,"Adventures With Uncle Bob-guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature the River to River trail section (trail 001) between Herod, IL and Garden of the Gods. This description will start near Herod, although you can embark either way. Directions: From Harrisburg, take Rt 145 south to Rt 34 and follow to Herod. Near the post office turn left onto the blacktop and travel uphill approx 1.5 miles to the well-maintained Hitching Post parking lot (on the left). It is not signed from the road so watch closely. There is plenty of room for horse trailers. Cross the road and commence the hike. This stretch of Shawnee National forest wilderness area is 5.8 miles.

The trail starts out as a FS fire lane and soon becomes a backbone trail with deep ravines on both sides. We come to a junction with #00lE. Go straight ahead or else you will be going in a circle. Later we find ourselves along a beautiful two-layered cliff line. After that, the trail gets more rugged as it ascends via switchbacks. We finally level out on a steep ridgetop and the trail thru the woods is clearly defined. Be on the lookout for at least four places where one can step off the trail onto rock glades for unimpeded overlooks over the valley and adjacent ridgetops. If you went no further than this point, the hike would be worthwhile. Approx GPS reading here is 37 36' 30"N and 88 24' 0"W. we have hiked about 2.5 miles at the best overlook.

We start a long descent and, at the valley floor, please note the trail junction sign. By now your sense of direction has diminished. Trail 001 points to G.O.G. and Herod. We can continue on #001 but there is a more scenic connecting trail (152A) which will eventually meet back up with #001. While trail 152A is not easy to follow during leafoff, you are rewarded with a tall cliff line on both sides of the trail in a narrow corridor. At some point we rejoin #001 and enjoy views of the cliffs below the main observation trail. Note an "H" shaped window arch about 50 ft up the cliff. As we continue on, you will note forks in the trail to either ascend to the Garden of Gods parking area or continue on to the backpacker parking lot. As of this writing on Nov 24, 2009, the trail was not muddy and suggests that views are optimal during leafoff.

If readers plan a group outing on this trail, regulations limit the group to 10 people or horses. This trail runs thru a designated wilderness area in Shawnee National Forest. For any questions, contact Bob Tyson at 618-684-5643 or You may also contact John O'Dell at 618-252-6789.