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

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