Thursday, September 23

Indian Point Trail

Continuing with our monthly series,"Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature Indian Point Trail in the Garden of Gods Wilderness Area and part of Shawnee National Forest. This trail was described in the December, 2006 Shawnee newsletter but never got placed on the website. Here it is again.

Directions: From Harrisburg, IL, take Rt 145 south to Rt 34. Follow it thru Herod, IL, and turn onto Karber Ridge Rd. Go about 5 miles and turn at the sign for Garden of the Gods. Turn on this entrance road to the recreation area and follow to backpacker parking lot. The signboard says no horses or rappelling. The trail starts as a continual gradual climb thru a pine plantation. Come to an unmarked junction: Go straight ahead if you only want to access the Indian Point overlook, or to start the loop trail from the cliff base; Otherwise, you can turn left and take in the views from the top of the cliff line and later descend on switchbacks to the base trail. Let's start from the left, knowing it will be easier to descend the switchbacks, rather than a long ascent.

Continue thru the woods until the trail skirts the cliff tops. We have frequent overlooks over distant ridge tops as well as cliff canyons below. Eventually we make a continual gradual descent on switchbacks. Watch for an unmarked junction: turn right and arrive at the base of the cliff line. The trail has been easy to follow due to blue markers.

The cliff line runs approx 3/4 mile with frequent, gentle "up and down" rocky terrain. At the point where the trail goes uphill and touches the cliff, climb uphill off-trail to a 30-40 ft shelter cave. During leaf off, we still have views over distant ridge tops. Note the anvil shaped free-standing boulder. Go another 20 ft and climb up to 2 large caves. One has a right turn inside, making the cave about 75 ft long. Back on the trail, go about 100 ft and climb a major slot canyon. Later on, we approach 2 more shelter caves: 20 ft and 40 ft. After reaching the end of the cliff line, we ascend thru woods to Indian Point with its unobstructed views over the valley. Watch all the buzzards glide thru the air without flapping their wings. The trail continues to the left. Reach the original loop junction and return to the parking lot. While here, drive over to the main parking area for the observation trail. Other nearby trails are described on this blog index. Distance on this trail was approx 2 miles or 2 hrs and 10 min with off-trail exploration. GPS coordinates are approx 37 36' 0" N and 88 23' 0" W. Further info contact Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or