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

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