Monday, November 26

Rim Rock Trails

Continuing with our series,"Adventures with Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois", we feature Rim Rock National Recreation trail in Shawnee National forest.  Directions: From Harrisburg,ill, take us 45 south to a left turn on Rt 145. Follow it past Mitchelville and a left onto Rt 34. Follow this past Herod,Ill and turn left on Karber Ridge Rd.  This road will pass Garden of the Gods, High Knob, and another 4 miles to the well marked entrance.
Along with ample parking in the paved lot, there is a rest room and numerous picnic tables.  Note the sign board with an orientation to the trails and history of the area.  GPS coordinates are 37  36'  8.76"N and 88  16'  41.97"W.  We are confronted with 3 trail choices: left, right, and straight ahead.  The left segment provides continuous views 70 ft below the paved trail into the canyon; On the left, we also parallel continuous sandstone glades. We come to an observation deck.If you took the center trail which is also paved, it arrives at the same deck.  This trail isn't as scenic-just goes thru woods and has a long descent.This one is also paved. That left segment is accdessible for wheelchairs as far as the deck. The brochure states that a loop of both trails is one hour.  From the deck we descend a staircase thru a rock tunnel maze and arrive at the base of the cliffs.  Going to the right, we encounter Ox-Lot Cave.  This is a massive cliff overhang but has very little depth; Rather it is more noted for historical significance.
Now we are following a dirt base trail which provides views of tall pretty clifflines. A junction appears: a left goes 0.5 mile to Pounds Hollow Lake and a right continues our baseline trail back to the parking lot.  Soon our trail becomes a canyon with tall cliffs on both sides of the trail. Near the end, the trail suddenly climbs thru switchbacks.  We arrive at the 3-way junction and parking lot.  You will note numerous resting benches on all 3 trail segments.
More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or

Saturday, November 10

Horse Creek Trail

Continuing with our series,"Adventures with Uncle Bob-Guide to self-exploration in Southern Illinois",we feature the above trail in Shawnee National Forest.  This trail disappeared off our old website. Directions: From Jonesboro,illinois, go west on rt 146 to rt 3, turn left and drive about 10 miles to the village of McClure, turn left by the schoolhouse onto Grapevine road. Proceed about 5 miles and turn right on Oxford Rd (the Forest Service refers to it as FR 220). If you go by an abandoned campground, you went too far-back up. Our route up to this point has been very scenic. Drive up the steep gravel road,fork right onto the lane with grass in the middle, and you will see two trailheads. As a loop trail, I prefer the second one.GPS coordinates are N37 18' 19" and W 89  22' 16.28".
The trail has a number of switchbacks with many overlooks over the countryside and ravine views. This trail is rugged. Eventually we descend to the bottom of the canyon and a "T" intersection. If you go right it will end at a pond. Proceed left. In the spring you will be overpowered by the sounds of Cicada insects. Good pictures at If the link doesn't go, re-type it in your browser. Along the bottom of the canyon we climb in and out of hollowed-out creekbeds.At some point we come to an unclear junction and I hope my blue marker is still there. Turn left. The trail now makes a steep ascent back to the top and out to the road. Turn left there and back to your car. Estimated length of this loop was 5 miles.
For another very scenic drive, turn left on Grapevine and drive approx half mile to a road sign( county line road?), turn right and follow several miles and reach rt 127. Go left and follow to Jonesboro. Any comments or questions, contact Bob Tyson 684-5643 or

Saturday, October 13

One Horse Gap Trails

Continuing with our series,"adventures with Uncle Bob-Guide to self-Adventure in Southern Illinois",we feature One Horse Gap trails in Shawnee National Forest. This article replaces one on an old website. Directions: From Harrisburg,Ill take Rt 145 south to rt 34 and follow to Herod,ill. Turn on Williams hill rd and then a left onto Raum Rd. Follow this gravel road several miles to Dutton Chapel Rd, turn left,and look for FS 186(Mousey Mt sign). Set your odometer as there is no signage to prominent features.
Skip this first parking lot-trails 106-174 are steeply downhill to the lake. Park roadside at either 1.6 or 1.9 and walk 15 minutes to a huge rock cedar glade.GPS N37 31' 06" and W 88 27' 35".  You are on top of interesting rock formations. The hole in the ground is the narrow chute between rock boulders,hence, the gap.  This gap is usually muddy while you walk thru it to the bottom. There,you may want to turn right and explore the slot canyons and small cave; Otherwise, turn left to walk along a pretty cliff line and shelter cave.  At some point we run into a 5 way confusing junction. If you can find #177B segment to end at a great valley overlook, do so.  At this junction, either get #001 to continue north past shelter bluffs and arrive at FS 186, or else return to the car. You can drive to 2.7 miles, park in a clearing just ahead,and access a less confusing trail to the overlook.
Driving further, veer right at a junction and park roadside at 3.9 miles. Walk less than 1/8 mile to a great overlook. We turned right onto this spectacular rim trail where #170 crossed the overlook. This ended approx 3/4 mile. We then noted that #169 switchbacked to the base of this long cliff line while paralleling #170 going in a north direction. The sign says 1 mile to trail 121. 500 ft cliff walls, 2 caves, rock formations-wow! Why is this not advertised? It ended at the junction with 170. Turn left to a parking roundabout.  The sign was missing for trails # 120 and 121. You can descend to the right for those trails.  

Just want to do #120? Continue driving to the end of this forest road 4.3 miles. Park, go right, and then left. This is steadily down hill on rocky tread along a bluff line. At the bottom, the serpentine trail goes by a different tall cliff line with each turn. Note interesting patterns in the walls and hollowed-out surfaces in the rock.  The texture looks like part limestone and chert. The trail gradually ascends to the rim. I would turn around here and head back to the car. It will be strenuous climb to the car but worth it all. Any questions or comments,contact Bob Tyson 618-684-5643 or There are several horse tieups at all points featured in the article.     

Thursday, September 20

Little Cedar Loop Trail

Continuing with our series,"Adventures with Uncle Bob-Giuide to Self-adventure in Southern Illinois", we feature this moderate to rugged loop trail in Shawnee National Forest. This is either 5 or 7 miles. I clocked 3.2 hours to do the loop. This article is a reprint from our former website. There are 3 trailheads: 1) Take Rt 127 south from Murphysboro to Boat Dock rd near Pomona. Turn left and follow a couple miles to a parking signboard. Go south on this trail to Debolt trailhead, turn left and follow approx 2 miles almost to the lake. Start the loop trail south near the sign. From where you parked, this access trail is quite rugged-tired before you even start the loop. 2) Continue down Rt 127 to Landreth rd(county line rd), turn left and then left again. Forest Service has graveled it this year to Debolt trailhead. This road could be a problem after spring rains. 3) Continue Rt 127 to Alto Pass, turn on Cedar Rd near the fire station. Follow it a few miles to a "T" junction, turn left, and go aprox 3 miles to Little Cedar Lane, turn left, and follow to the gate here without blocking the entrances to the fields. We will start from this last trailhead.
Starting from the gate, we descend on an old service road. When the trail curves left, note a faint trail on the right; this will connect with the River to River trail ( R-R) after 1/8 mile to go east to Rowan Rd near Makanda. Back  to our trail, we eventually hook up with R-R trail to go west thru Pine plantations. This trail is muddy after rains even though some segments have been graveled. We arrive at a ridge descent: The trail on the left is the east segment of the loop and marked as LCL.  Let's continue straight ahead to the stone dams that separate Little Cedar and Big Cedar. GPS N.37.65838 and W 89.28370 (from mapquest). Note the massive rock glade. Now we ascend to the woods. sign on the right ( R-R and cove hollow).Turn left. As we travel south on this west segment the signs will alternatively read trail 379, LCL, and R-R (makers are an "i" shape).We parallel the lake frequently, view high ravines, isolated cliff formations, two cliff overhangs in case of rain, and finally reach a creek crossing on rocks. This could be problematic after frequent rain.

After crossing, note the R-R goes right and on to Alto Pass. You want to go left. For those who came here from the east segment, I note no signage across the creek: just veer SW 50 ft to find the trail again. As we ascend, the marker says 379. Cross another creek, turn north, and our ascent gets steeper. We have many upper views of the lake, a cliff line about 300 ft above us, intermittent rock formations,and finaly arrive at a "T" junctrion.  We complete the loop, turn right, and retrace back to the car.  any questions,contact Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or

Friday, August 31

Mantle Rock Nature Preserve

Continuing with our series,"Adventures with Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure",we feature a re-print of this article from our former website.  From Cave in the Rock,Illinois,take the free ferryboat over the Ohio River( open daily 6am-9:40pm) and turn right on Ky 135. Follow this pretty winding road for approx 20 miles to the village of Joy,Kentucky. Turn right on Ky 133 and proceed 2.2 miles and note a historical marker. There is no nature preserve sign. Turn left on the unmarked road after this sign and either park near the port-a-potties,or down by the information kiosk if the lane isn't muddy.
At 0.44 mile we encounter this 167 ft long natural bridge: 21 ft height and 9 ft thick. GPS N37.35636 and W -88.42709. It shows an overgrown trail to climb up to the top of the bridge, otherwise note some neat rock formations to the left, cross a narrow creekbed, and arrive at an unmarked junction. Let's go right and enjoy a ravine and cliff canyon with nice views. It ends at some point.  Go back to the junction and go on another trail to see the Medussa tree which has dead cedar branches that twist in all directions. Beyond this point the trail either was uninteresting or fizzled out. Unusual vegetation include June grass and Hairy Lip Fern. Go to for the picture of the natural bridge. If the link doesn't happen you may need to re-type in your browser. I leave you with a couple admonitions: avoid the ferry boat on holiday weekends as the line of cars and horse trailers backs up a significant distance. Apparently, for those who live north of here find this to be a shortcut to Land Between the Lakes. Secondly,if there has been flooding on the Ohio or excessive rain, route 135 gets flooded in many places. Also that creek bed near the natural bridge will be ankle deep to prevent going further on the trail.
Any questions,contact Bob Tyson at 618-684-5643 or
10-12-12: the above was from my notes 5 yrs ago. i had an unexpected occasion to go there today. there is a sign for the place on the road now. clearly marked. new loop parking lot, toilet gone, and now the sign at the natural bridge says 188 ft length-the longest one east of the mississippi river. the sign also says there is a new 2.7 mile loop trail,but such loop past the prominent feature was not evident.

Thursday, August 16

Kinkaide Lake Trail

Continuing with our series,"Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-adventure in Southern Illinois",we feature this 12 mile Shawnee National forest trail which starts near the spillway/waterfall and ends in Johnson Creek Recreation Area.  I will describe the first 4 miles and comment on the other access areas. Readers can blog or email on the other sections.  Directions: From Murphysboro, go west on rt 149 about 6 miles, make a right turn upon crossing the bridge at the bottom of the switchback( Spillway Rd).  Go 1.5 mile to the small parking area near the gate.  Before doing so, go further to the waterfall parking area to see this cascade drop over 5 ledges- nothing better on a hot day than to sit under a crashing wave for the ultimate massage; no chlorine and water temperature just right. GPS coordinates N 37.7778 and W 89.5878.
Walk up this steep road from the gate to the top of the dam and enter the trail. We enjoy continuous lake views down below the trail, as well as steep ravine views above us.  The trail is "up and down" but not steep.  Several downslopes have stone steps. At the first one, go 30 ft to the left to find a small cave. Continuing on, we do a long descent to a cliff line with nice formations,cascade,and rock canyon. The trail ascends on switchbacks,and distant cliff lines parallel the trail. We are high above the lake. Eventually we encounter an old forest road; Upon turning right,you can visit Buttermilk beach penninsula( restrooms and picnic tables), Turning left on this road will bring you on private property and welcomed by a shotgun. Either turn around here and return to the car,or go straight ahead to continue the trail to Buttermilk trailhead. The trail beyond this point is rugged,poor trail signage as well. It has the same features as noted earlier.
You can access Buttermilk trailhead parking area from Rt 3 and note the brown sign to turn. This road is a steep ascent. Near the top you will turn right onto Taylor Rd; follow to the unsigned parking area. The Forest Service has reconstructed the access trail from here to Kinkaid trail.  The third access point for the trail is Hidden Cove trailhead.  From Rt 3, turn onto Rt 151, then a right on Gum Springs Rd, follow to a right on John Lee Rd. The latter becomes a steep descent to the parking area. Warning: just before the road descends,you may find the road washed out by spring rains. Good luck trying to back up!  Going south on the trail we encounter a junction with Waterfall trail(the falls is only 3 ft high) and will go to Buttermilk Rd.  Otherwise continue on Kinkaid trail which is now less rugged,nice views,and eventually connect with the forementioned Buttermilk trailhead inn 4 miles. Any questions, contact BobTyson at 684-5643 or

Tuesday, July 31

Happy Hollow Trailhead

Continuing with our series, "Adventures with Uncle Bob - Guide to self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature this 4 mile section of the River to River Trail on Illinois Dept of Conservation land. This is a reprint of an article which was on our old website. Directions: From Marion, IL, take I-57 south to Goreville exit, and go east to Sullivan Rd.  Turn right and follow to Happy Hollow Rd. This road is very scenic, and start looking for an unmarked parking area when the road makes a sharp curve. GPS coordinates at the parking area are N37.531153 and W89.002161.
The trail could be classified as moderate or rugged in the eyes of the beholder.  We travel a steep descent on an old roadbed. At the bottom, take this side trail on the right as it overlooks a canyon, a 5 ft seasonal wide waterfall, and drop down into a cliff canyon maze. It eventially ends-go back to our trail junction and continue north.  Now we have views of steep ravines and cliff lines. We encounter a 15 ft wide creek which could be a foot deep in rainy weather.  After crossing, take time to climb up to the cliff lines to explore formations and shelter caves. We run into an unmarked junction: you need to go thru this rock-strewn gully and soon exit to the left, and continue in a northwest direction. Later there is an unmarked junction for Cedar Bluff rim trail.
Coming to a clearing and utility rightaway, make a choice: an old roadbed ascends thru pretty cliffs to end at the parking lot on Regent Rd; Or, follow the rightaway a short distance to re-enter the woods on a trail which brings you to the base of Bork Waterfall. Regent Rd would be an ideal car shuttle point. From Regent rd, you have a rim top view of the falls as well as to drive Regent Rd as it ascends back to Goreville Rd and on to I-57.  While here, why not also visit nearby Cedar Bluff and the Bork Waterfall rim trail (scroll the index of this blog for both).  Any questions or comments contact Bob Tyson 684-5643 or

Tuesday, July 17

Fern Clyffe State Park

Continuing with our series,"Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in southern Illinois",we feature a natural bridge on a less known trail on the edge of the park.  Scroll this index for another less known park area- Round Bluff Nature Preserve.  Directions: From Goreville,ill go south on rt 37 a couple miles to the park entrance.  At the first junction, turn left and then a right on the park road. I park at the picnic area called bluff view. Cross the road and pick up our natural bridge trail.  Trees block the access view-just descend into the creek bottom (there is also a parking area to the left of the road with a name that does not match the trail). on our trail ascent, we encounter aa 3-way junction: go straight ahead and we follow this segment of the River to River Trail( markers have an "i" symbol).  After switchbacks, we level off and continue in a south direction,enjoying cliff lines and distant views. At the midpoint of this moderate grade loop, we switchback to the base of the natural bridge. GPS coordinates N37.52061 and W88.99979. Outstanding! We continue past small shelter caves and cliffs, turn west and be alert for an unmarked descent to the bottom of the canyon.  We then walk aqn old logging road( could be overgrown with weeds in the spring), plus creek crossings as the trail turns north and back to our 3 way junction.turn right back to the parking area. The horse campground has an access point to the trail as  Happy hollow loop. picture at Click the one that ends in 4155080.You need to know that this trail is outside the park boundary during hunting season.

If you still have energy for further hiking or are camped here, continue on the park road to the end.  nu merous trails emanate from here: hawk Cave and a cliff canyon maze across the footbridge; seasonal waterfall trail and ridgetop views.  Along with a park map, these trails are self-evident without further elaboration from me.  Any questions, contact Bob Tyson 684-5643 or

Thursday, June 28

Old Stoneface Trail

Continuing with our series,"Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide for Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois",we feature Old Stoneface in Shawnee national Forest. This is a reprint from an old website.  Directions: From Equality,ill go south by following Glen O jones lake road for several miles.  Turn right on Horseshoe road( a sign also says to rt 145). Go about 4 miles and the road shows a left onto stoneface Rd: The sign says 2 miles( long miles) on gravel.  There is no Forest Service sign at the entrance-just a county road sign reading stoneface lane. GPS N 37  39' 45" and W -88 26' 32".  Follow uphill to the parking area.  Alternatively, traveling on Rt 34 from harrisburg, there is a sign for this area at the village of Rudement.

From the parking lot, we ascend a rugged ascent, turn left at an unmarked junction, and reach a pretty cliff line after 0.2 mile. Go left. Lots of cliff overhangs. Go thru a boulder tunnel.  We can either walk to a trail junction to access the rim trail or shortcut up a rock slide.  This rim trail and sandstone glades afford continuous views over the distant countryside as well as views of the bottom of the canyon.  Wood fences protect plant species including the rare Chokeberry and Stonecrop.  Once past the fences, look for the above unique rock formation resembling a face.  Continue on the trail past the utility crossing and note a place to descend to the bottom( suggest descending backwards). Now we follow a user-made trail to take in outstanding rock formations and a cliff line that tilts at a 30 degree angle.  Continue to the second left turn, and back to the car. I estimate the loop at less than 2 miles. The Forest Service does not have an official base trail because it is an eccological area.  While here, why not also visit nearby Eagle mountain Scenic area(scroll the index on this blogsite).  This is approx 1 mile east on this road.  If the Eagle Mt road sign is missing, just look for an ascending road which does not go to a residence. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or 

Tuesday, June 12

Perry County Community Lake Loop Trail

Continuing with our series,"Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure",we feature the above trail as a re-print from a discontinued website.  This place is managed by the Missouri Dept of Conservation. Directions: From Chester,ill cross the bridge and follow Mo 51 to Perryville.  Turn right onto County T and go a few miles and watch for the sign to the parking lot.
Let's start on the west loop segment. GPS N.37.72505 and W -89.91511.  We cross an earthen dam and enter the woods.  The trail follows lake views most of the time. Lots of wildlife are viewed and the 4 mile trail is well maintained.  Cross another dam and note frequent benches on the trail.  At the mid-point,we encounter a county road.  Note the archery 20 ft high platform.  For those who are only interested in archery, take I-55 frontage road south and turn right in a couple mile;Otherwise, turn left on the road and then left again on the park road.  You will pass restrooms and picnic tables. At the top of the hill, we re-enter the woods.  Along the trail we view a prairie restoration(sign), cross wood bridges, a junction on the right to the campground, and come to a good number of tree varieties-each with educational content signs.  Eventually, we end up at the boat dock and restrooms. Cross this area and return to the other parking lot. 
Pictures are at: If the link doesn't work, retype into your browser.The gap between words need an underscore. While here,why not also hike nearby Ball Mill Loop trail. Scroll this index for that article. Further questions, contact Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or

Friday, June 1

Cove Hollow Trail

Continuing with our series,  "Adventures with Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature Cove Hollow trail in Shawnee National Forest. This is a re-print of an article which disappeared from our old website.  Directions: From Murphysboro, IL, drive south on Rt 127 for about 10 miles, turn left onto Dutch Ridge Rd, go about 2 miles and note the hiker sign at Cove Hollow Rd.  This paved road terminates at the parking area. The trail is 4 miles long. Alternatively, one can park at the south end of the trail by continuing on Rt 127 and turning left on Boat Dock Rd. Go about 3 miles and note a small parking area and sign board. Closest GPS coordinates there are 37  37'  1708" N and 89  18'  69"W.
From the signboard on the north end, you can either take the path straight ahead or the one on your right as they eventually merge.  We enjoy views of Cedar Lake and now travel below a pretty cliff line.  We pass a small shelter cave and later see a side trail to a huge shelter cave. Sometimes an 80 ft waterfall drops over the cave. There is a path to climb to the top and a user-made trail for distant views.  Next we cross a shallow creek with cliffs facing north and pass a slot canyon as well as continuous cliff lines.  As we get closer to the 2 mile point, look for an easy way to ascend a cliff to a 30 ft cave.
Soon encounter a trail junction sign: the trail splits into Wolf Den Hollow to ascend for deep ravine views.The other choice is straight ahead as lower Cove Hollow and enjoy more cliff lines, slot canyons, and rock formations.  The sign is deceiving as the 3 mile number refers to Little Cedar trailhead, not to Boat Dock road.  Both trail segments converge later and continue to Boat Dock rd.  The trail is easy to follow, not steep, but is frequently "up and down."  Any questions, contact Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or

Tuesday, May 8

Bulge Hole Ecological Area

 Continuing with our series,"Adventures with Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois", we feature Bulge Hole Ecological Area in Shawnee National Forest.  Directions: From Marion,ill. take I-57 to I-24, get off at Tunnel Hill exit, go east to the first road on the right( Dutchman Lake signage missing).  Follow this road several miles, pass the entrance road to Dutchmaan Lake, go under the freeway on Bowman bottom rd.  The road curves left, then right, left again, and you will see an open field on the right and an old roadbed on the left. Park roadside. GPS N37  30.107 and W 088  53.315.  The roadbed passes a utility rightaway and soon see the ecological area sign. We bushwhacked downhill along descending rock glades and downfalls until finally arriving at the canyon bottom.  There is no defined trail.  After trial and  error, we found a better way to avoid getting lost.  Go back to the utility crossing,go north, and count 4 double towers starting with the one next to the roadbed.  After the 4th one,turn left and easily descend below the cliff line.  You can proceed in either direction.  Going right we have a  pretty continuous cliff line and some rock shelters.  It ends at a fence.  Return to the junction and proceed south, again along continuous cliffs and arrive at a huge shelter cave.  Now go along another spectacular cliff  line on its west side: caves,cascades,mooss-covered rocks,and finally another huge semi-circle shelter cave.  Make your way back via the same line or creekbed.  note the fence again-cross over.  If you cannot find the utility pole again, one can always parallel the ascending rock glades back to the roadbed. 
Someone else recently found that by walking the roadbed until the fence highest point and crossing the fence another roadbed was found to go to the bottom and eventually found the bottom.  Any questions, contact Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or  While here, why not try nearby Dutchman Lake trailhead( scroll on this index for specifics).
10-8-2012. feedback suggests walking the utility crossing might be formidable when weeds are high as well as snakes. 3 of us were there this week to make an alternative trail. Walk down the service road, as before. After walking over the rock glade, look for the first wood fence section, cross it and follow the obvious trail. At approx 0.6 the trail turns right and heads downhill to a break in the cliff line. I put up red flags so you can return here. go either direction to enjoy the cliffs and shelter caves. The one looks like it will have a 30 ft seasonal waterfall over the cliff. We brushed the trail and put down some logs to guide better.
06/20/2013: After an earlier Sierra Club hike in the area, we note the need to clear brush roadblocks away from cliff lines as it gets tiring to detour downhill and then back up again to the cliff lines to continue. On this date we cleaned out such brush so people can stay along the cliff lines. We also note that ATV riders knocked down the fence adjoining the service road. To find the point to turn off the service road, note the Forest Service sign and then continue over two more cedar rock glades, and then note the path to the right. I also put red ribbon on the tree.

Monday, May 7

Ball Mill Loop Trail

Continuing with our series,"Adventures With Uncle bob-Guide to Self-adventure",we feature its full name, Ball mill Resurgence Pit Natural Area.  This article origninally appeared on an old website and is transfered here.  This place is owned by the LAD Foundation and managed by the Missouri Dept of Conservation.  Directions: From Chester,ill., cross the bridge and proceed on MO 51 to Perryville.  In town, turn right on US 61 and then a right on Co V.  You will drive about 7 miles, curve left on the road,and follow signs to the parking area. GPS N37. 808563 and W-89.886189.
Proceed down the farm lane and arrive at the loop junction. I suggest ascending the left loop segment.  We walk by several scenic sinkholes.  Unique shrubs and flowers include Spicebush,American Bladdernut, Thimbleweed, False Solomon seal, hooked Crowfoot, and Doll's eyes.  The trail descends to the bottom and turns right. We come to an unusual cliff known as the Resurgence Pit. This spot drains surface water away to caves and underground streams,but after a rainstorm the flow reverses and becomes a stream.  Notice the polished rocks. The trail gradually ascends back to the loop junction, turn left, and back to the car. Go to for several good pictures of this 2 mile loop.
You may have to re-type this in your browser. While here, why not also hike Perry County Community Lake Loop trail.  For this, go back to MO 51, turn right, go to road "T",turn right and go a few miles to the trailhead.  Any questions, contact Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or

Monday, April 30

Hickory Canyons Natural Area

Continuing with our series,"Adventures with Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure",we feature hickory Canyons trails. This is a reprint of an article which fell off the former website.  This area is owned by the LAD foundation and managed by the Missouri Dept of Conservation.  Directions: From Chester,ill., take missouri 51 to County H,follow to St Mary, turn left, turn right on County Z,and go to I-55 north.  Take the exit for MO 32 west.  Follow it to county C, turn right and travel 3.2 miles to Sprott rd( if the sign is not visible, look for some big boulders near a homestead).  Take this gravel road 2 miles to the parking area. GPS coordinates are N37.872036 and W-90.302476. Two trails emanate from here: the one on the south is 0.3 mile out and back leading to a tall semi-circle box canyon.
The second one is to the north as a one mile rugged loop. At the junction, go either way.  It is easier to take the segment on the right.  As it descends, the Lamotte sandstone cliffs seem to get taller and some are 100 ft high.  Note the various fern species and other unusual ice-age plant relicts as we reach the canyon floor.  We view steep ravines,box canyons,cascades,a rock shelter,and a rock gladetop as we ascend the trail back to the parking lot. There are several good pictures at If this link does not go,write it into your browser.
While here, why not also visit nearby Pickle Springs loop trail( scroll down the index on this blog. There is a winery in a cave by taking county rd B when taking MO 32 back east. Any questions, contact Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or

Thursday, April 19

Pine Hills Scenic area

Continuing with our series,"Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois",we feature Pine Hills in Shawnee National Forest. Directions: From Murphysboro,ill., take rt 149 west to Rt 3, turn left,and travel approx 20 miles. Upon crossing the Big Muddy bridge,turn left on the levee road and arrive at a junction near a steep cliff line. Turn right and park at Winter pond( GPS 37 35' 2.07"N and 89 26' 25.75"W). Walk this 2.5 mile road which bisects this beautiful cliff line and LaRue Swamp. The road is closed to vehicles during snake migrations from cliffs to swamp from March 15 to May 15, as well as Sept 1-Oct 30 each year. At the end of this road,we can turn right onto LaRue road as it joins Rt 3.
Back at Winter Pond, drive north, pass the levee road,and follow signs to Pine Hills drive which switchbacks to the top of the 350 ft bluff line. This 7 mile road provides frequent overlooks over adjacent deep ravines, ridges,swamp, and farm land. It descends eventually to end at the Trail of Tears state forest road, where you can either return to rt 3 or go to the state forest. The first trail at the top is Inspiration Point(o.75 mile) which leads to the obvious. The next trail on the drive is the Godwin. This runs 6 miles to Bald Knob Mountain trailhead. The River to River trail overlaps it. The first 3 miles can be hard to follow. Additional short trails occur along the drive until the last one at the Allen's Flat sign. This is the White Pines trail. It can also be accessed from #10 spot in the campground at the bottom.
This 2.5 mile trail is a continual descent so easier to start at Allen Flat. Along this trail, we experience excellent views of ravines above and below the trail. There is a junction later for Hutchins creek trail if you want to extend the hike; Otherwise, end it at the campground. For another adventure, instead of turning onto Pine Hills drive, continue north on the gravel road which soon becomes Macedonia road thru Clear Springs Wilderness. It affords conntinuous cliff lines, rock formations, and ravine views. Eventually, it is a blacktop road which will meet Hickory Ridge road to go to Murphysboro. Any questions, contact Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or

Monday, April 16

Little Grand Canyon

Continuing with our series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois, " we feature Little Grand Canyon in Shawnee National Forest. Directions: From Murphysboro, IL, take 20th St. south from town and look for the brown sign at the top of the hill. Turn left onto Hickory Ridge Rd and proceed about 8 miles to a 4-way stop. Turn right and continue approx 3 miles to the entrance and parking lot. GPS 37 40' 49.64"N and 89 23' 41.49"W. This is a 4 mile rugged loop trail. I suggest starting on the west trail segment.
We hike along a rim trail overlooking deep ravines on both sides. Just before the final descent: great overlooks over farms and adjacent ridges. Soon we switchback onto rock glade and both cliff walls get deeper. One spot looks like a 10 ft dropoff: don't be deceived, below the ridge are foothold indentations into the rock. Very spectacular! We reach the bottom of the canyon and go east(right) and the trail weaves in and away from the 300 ft continuous cliff line and its unusual rock patterns. At approx 0.75 mile, you note a steep ascent on solid rock carved between cliff walls, plus a seasonal cascade. Surely we are not expected to climb this to the top? Yes - again we have foothold rock indentations. At the top, follow the trail back to the parking area. Before you make the ascent, you may want to bushwhack straight ahead to a couple nice rock shelters.
Don't come here after icy weather for obvious reasons; likewise, if a rain storm is forecast, this canyon floods quickly. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or

Thursday, April 12

Camp Ondessonk Trails

Continuing with our series,"Adventures With Uncle bob-Guide to self-adventure in Southern Illinois", we feature Camp Ondessonk trails. I am re-printing a previous article which appeared on a defunct website. Directions: From Marion,ill.,take rt 13 east to rt 166, go thru Creal Springs to us 45, turn right and follow to Ozark. Turn left into town and note the Camp Ondessonk sign and arch. Follow about 3 miles to St noel administration building. Check in here for permission to proceed to the camp parking lot. no dogs allowed. This is usually closed to hikers from mid-May thru mid-September. If you are taking a group in here to hike on a weekend, call first; another group may have reserved the whole place(618-695-2489); Otherwise, just come during a weekday should be no problem.

Cross the covered bridge. The first stop is a short trail below the dining hall/chapel to see the big shelter bluff which serves as an ampitheater. a seasonal waterfall over the bluff may occur. Go back up and follow a road east, turn by the tree house bunks and follow this beautiful cliff line. Be sure to visit each slot canyon grotto for fantastic views. Later, a dead end side trail goes up wooden steps with a semicircle cliff line and waterfall. Back on the trail, the road forks. Let's turn uphill and then another switchback. Now we are on an old rail bed for approx one mile. Upon noting an old horse barn, start looking for a user-made trail on the right to descend to Cedar Falls. GPS coordinates 37 30' 60"N and 88 44' 17"W. On 02/17/12, it had a drop of 80 ft over the top of this scenic bluff line.
Return back to the fore mentioned fork in the road. Turn left and follow to a beautiful cascade over 5 ledges. Continue on the levee road to a swinging bridge, cross and back to the parking lot. For a top view of the falls, you can drive east from Ozark and note a sharp curve, turn on a road going south (road sign has the word "tuck" on it) and follow to the end at the gate. An obvious short trail will take you to the top of the falls and cliffs. Any questions, contact Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or

Friday, March 30

Sharp Rock Falls

Continuing with our series, "Adventures with Uncle bob-guide to self-adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature Sharp Rock Falls. This is a reprint of an article that fell off our former website. The trail to the falls is Shawnee forest property; however, the campground is private. This means no hiking here in the summer when parking is needed for paying customers. Directions: From Murphysboro, take rt 127 north to Ava Blacktop rd. follow this scenic road about 12 miles to the sign for Sharp rock falls and take this to the campground. When the road ends at the bottom, turn left, cross a concrete culvert, keep hanging to the right at junctions, and park where possible when you see the trail and the USDA signage.
This trail is probably maintained by ATV riders with ascents and descents. We are surrounded by steep pretty cliff lines in the canyon. We cross a shallow creekbed and then soon back over again. At some point we encounter a tributory creek crossing our path. Turn left and either walk up the creekbed or climb the banks to follow this canyon as it curves to the right. Now we see a cascade dropping in 3 layers-about 30 ft total. This cascade is probably seasonal, but the walk thru the canyons are worthwhile by itself. Walk back to the car. Photo courtesy by Bill Pinkston. GPS coordinates 37.8420N and -89.4882W. Any questions contact Bob Tyson 684-5643 or

Sand Cave Trail

Continuing with our series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to self-adventure in Southern Illinois", we feature Sand Cave Trail. This is a reprint of an article that fell off our former website. Directions: 1. From Marion, IL, go east on rt 13 to rt 166, turn right, go thru Creal Springs to US 45. Turn right, go to Ozark, IL, turn left and follow Ozark rd about 12 miles to a junction with Cedar Grove Church rd. Turn right. Shortly after the church, look for a green county sign "Sand Cave Lane." Go straight to its end at the forest (don't block that farm lane on the left). This is Shawnee National Forest. 2. Cedar Grove Church rd is also accessible from rt 147 from the south. GPS coordinates are 37 30' 00"N and 88 38' 51"W. Walk in until you see an unmarked trail on the right. This is an easy 0.5 mile trail along a cliff line. A fork appears later, go right, and come to this huge shelter cave sandwiched into the cliff line. It appears to be 500 ft deep, 100 ft wide, and 50 ft height.
While here, why not continue walking along the pretty horseshoe-shaped cliff canyon before returning to the car. Scroll down this blog to Peter Cave and Jackson Hole as they are in this proximity and make a day of of this expedition. Any questions, contact Bob Tyson 684-5643 or
12-3-12: Forest Service map shows trail 030 loop starting at Sand Cave. Two of us decided to check it out. It took 4 hrs. Coming in from the parking lot,take a left on an unmarked trail near the natural area sign. You will meet trail 035,turn left. This will junction with trail 030 loop. A left will afford a couple nice formations;Otherwise, go right to a huge shelter cave. Looks about 400 ft long,and 40 ft deep. Continue along smaller caves and a cliff canyon. Soon it veers left with a different cliff line on each turn. Eventually we meander thru woods and isolated cliffs. 030 sign disappeared at maxwell Ford: turn right and head uphill: 030 sign reappears.After a long ascent along cliffs, we turn left for a short distance on 032 and junction with River to River trail(001). Turn  left,go straight at a later major junction,and as we get closer to Cedar Grove Church Rd, a left turn for 030 reappears. now we head north along switchbacks, reach 035, take this back to the natural area sign,and back to the car. This loop was rocky,very few mudholes,and well constructed.

Thursday, March 22

Round Bluff Nature Preserve

Continuing with our series,"Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois", we feature the above 1.2 mile loop trail. This is a reprint since disappearing from our former website. Directions: In Goreville, go south on rt 37 to Fern Clyffe State Park. At a stop sign, go left and follow the Round Bluff sign to the parking lot. Brochure at the side of the sign board. Let's start on the right. The trail encompasses a huge Sandstone knob with constant baseline views of cliffs up to 110 ft high. We pass the state champion Winged Elm tree, a desert-like glade, a shelter bluff, four fern species, wood staircases to shorten ascents and descents, interesting rock formations, and finally finish at a picnic shelter. The signboard used to say no dogs but on this date, 2-17-12, there was no admonition. GPS coordinates are N 37.5295 and W -88.97785. Any questions, contact Bob Tyson ay 618-684-5643 or

Tuesday, March 20

Pickle Springs Loop Trail

Continuing with this series,"Adventures with Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure", we feature this Missouri Dept of Conservation trail. It is reproduced here as it disappeared from a previous website. Directions: From Chester,ill cross the bridge and go about 5 miles to county H, and follow this until it ends at St Mary. Turn left, and go to county Z. Follow to I-55 and go north to Rt 32. Follow this approx 15 miles and you see the brown conservation area sign. Turn left and follow to the parking lot. Alternatively, for a scenic view,get off I-55 at Ozora exit, take N to P, then north on B to rt 32. This will take you over scenic ridgetops and the winery in the cave.

Coming out of the parking lot, we have a 2 mile loop junction: let's go left. Soon we come to a unique cliff area with a double buttress arches, the keyhole, and the slot. Our arches picture has been moved to click GIS for any state). The trail is up and down but not steep. We encounter waterfalls, rock shelters, and strange rock formations. Near the end, we are up on high rock cedar glade overlooking the valley and back to the parking lot. GPS coordinatesare N 37.7959 and W -90.2668. Make a day out of this outing by visiting nearby Hickory Canyon Conservation area and Hawn State Park. The winery requires that visitors buy one bottle of wine for every 5 people in a group in order to enter the cave( lighted and tables). More info from Bob Tyson at 618-684-5643 or

Saturday, January 28

Hayes Creek Trails

Continuing with our "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature the above area on Shawnee National Forest trails 491A and 491. The Shawnee staff has improved and relocated these trails in the last 2 years. Two of us visited 01/23/2012. Directions: go south from Eddyville on Rt 145 and look for Neighbors Rd and turn right. After 1/4 mile look on the left for sign 491A (room for no more than 3 cars if muddy).

491A descends gradually downhill on several switchbacks with exposed pretty cliff lines on both sides of the trail. Waterfall cascades are abundant. Cliff views will be more prominent during leaf-off since the trail is not directly underneath the walls. After 25 minutes, we reach a junction: 491A straight ahead thru Hayes Creek, 491 south, and 491 north. We first went north (right) on 491. This was muddy in places but as a riverside trail in a canyon, we are treated to continual cliff lines on both sides. 30 minutes later, the water was too high to turn left on it, so we continued straight ahead as 4961. Again this tributary was to deep to cross and connect with 496 and on to the River to River trail. The horse tie up over the creek shows GPS coordinates 37 29' 08"N and 88 37' 19"w.

We retreated back to the junction with 491 and 491A and traveled south on 491. We slowly ascend to a rim top view over Hayes Creek for 200 yards while continuing to take in the pretty cliffs on both sides. Forest did a great job on this segment. Note the 30 ft waterfall cascade. Unfortunately, 491 crossed the creek again as it heads to Bay Creek ranch. This adventure is worth it even if impeded by creek levels. Upon return to the car, we continued further south on rt 145 and turned onto FR 652 sign. It was a good one lane road which took us to two trail heads. The first one shows 031D which goes west to Bay Creek ranch. Driving a little further, another parking area shows a junction for 491A east, 491, as well as #031 west to the ranch. Contact Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or for further questions.

02/06/12:we returned to Fr 562 rd and parked at jct with 031D. sign says 1 mile to jct with 031. it was well marked but poor trail tread and devoid of scenery. We come to jct 031; go left to see a pretty cliff line and follow to 031H and end up on Cedar Grove Church rd. Go right to follow 031 as a loop back to FR 562. This segment went thru ravines, good tread in places, but cliff lines were more distant from the trail. The time for this loop back to the car was 1 hr 45 minutes.

From 031D parking area, we drove north 1/4 mile to another parking area(gravel pile) and took 491. This was good trail tread, well-marked, some nice cliff features, and arrive at Hayes creek crossing in 20 minutes. While here, we picked up 491A back to the car. This was good trail tread, well marked, but little scenic value except distant views over ridgetops. It ends on a long rock glade. Turn left on the road and proceed 0.2 back to the car. This segment was 35 minutes.

Wednesday, January 18

Peabody/Forest Service Land Swap

The comment period ends Jan 31. While the Shawnee would gve one property near the confluence of the Saline river and the Ohio (Gallatin county) in exchange for 2 Peabody properties, there is an environmental issue regarding the one near the Ohio River. This property protects a maternity roost colony of federally endangered Indiana bats, habitat for Gray bats, high quality natural area which includes rare hardwood forest bottomland.
Tell the Forest Service to stop this swap. Mailed comments may be sent to Hurston Nicholas, supervisor. Shawnee National Forest. 50 Hwy 145 South. Harrisburg,Ill. 62946. The subject of the letter is: ALHI-Shawnee NF land exchange proposal. You may also email to: