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