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.

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