Tuesday, May 25

Rocky Bluff Trail

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob - Guide to Self-Adventures in Southern Illinois," we feature Rocky Bluff trail in Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. This trail was previously described in the April, 2006, Shawnee Newsletter but was not posted to the website. Parking in this refuge requires a Crab Orchard $2 sticker, Golden Age or Golden Eagle pass. Stickers may be obtained at the office on Rt 148 south of rt 13, or at Devil's lake concessionaire (open in late spring).

Directions: From Carbondale, take Giant City Road several miles and look for Grassy Road. Turn left and drive 5 miles to the sign for Devil's Kitchen Lake. Turn right, and go to the "t" junction. Turn left, follow across the bridge to the parking area. For those coming from the south, take I-57 to Rt 148 exit. Turn west and travel approx 5 miles and Grassy Road is next to a utility substation and general store.

At the trailhead, note that this is a loop trail-go either way for 1.8 miles. Nice overlook over the canyon at the start. The tread on this trail is excellent and easy to moderate. Also note several benches to rest. We will take the top segment of the trail. The trail starts thru a pine plantation. At 0.18, note a connecting trail to make a short loop. Our trail continues gradually uphill for 0.29 and comes to a junction. Turn left onto this old road. Go 0.26 on this road to a junction with Turkey Trail and Rocky Bluff. Turn left again. Now we have frequent views into deep ravines (especially during leafoff). Note a cliff line on the right down in the valley. We will make a sharp descent on waterbars. The trail then ascends with more ravine views and a mess of downfalls from the May, 2009, wind storm.

Now we descend down stair steps and a handrail to a cliff line which continues for the rest of the loop. This line averages about 10-20 ft high and a creek parallels us on the right. Note the small cave and overhang. Near the end, note the circular cliff canyon and waterfall. The trail ascends to the trailhead via stair steps and handrail. GPS coordinates could not be found but for a reference to topo map USGS 1:24000 Crab Orchard lake. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or robkay43@webtv.net.

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