Monday, September 16

Camp Ondessonk Weekend in the Shawnee Forest of Southern Illinois

Join Piasa Palisades Group Sierrans for a weekend at Camp Ondessonk
November 1-3, 2013

The Piasa Palisades Group invites you to join them for a Camp Ondessonk getaway. Camp Ondessonk, located in Johnson County in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest, offers access to beautiful trails with dramatic sandstone bluffs. It is also close to many other favorite places in the Shawnee including Bell Smith Springs, Jackson Hollow and Burden Falls.

Piasa Palisades Group will be staying in the “dorms,” which have heat and electricity, access to bathrooms with showers, and a fire pit.

The cost is $11.50 per person per night. Meals on your own. Optional exploratory hikes.

Some have expressed an interest in staying in St Noel. That is $100 per night per room plus $25 per night for every extra person over four.

For more information, contact Carol Klinger at or call 618-288-5630.

Saturday, September 7

Fall Weekend Get-away Hikes

Fall Weekend Get Away Hikes in Shawnee National Forest Date: Friday, October 11, 2013 to Sunday, October 13, 2013 Presented by: River Prairie Group Leader: Jan Bradford - 847-455-2947 Level: Moderate (advanced beginner) Location: Murphysboro, IL 62966, USA Come join us for a hike in the LaRue Pine Hills bluffs and the snake migration road that is closed every spring and fall on Satur-day and Little Grand Canyon hike on Sun-day. Elevation on this hike is around 400' so hikers must be in good physical condition. On both days naturalist Ed Max will be with us to identify plants and trees that are unique to this area. This is a lodge based weekend you won't want to miss. Leader Jan Bradford and Naturalist Ed Max. Limit 10-20 cost will be around $160 for two nights lodging and fees. We will go out Saturday night for a group supper together. Contact Jan Bradford at 847-455-2947 NOTE: IF YOU WANT TO HIKE WITHOUT LODGING COST IS $3 PER DAY - All are welcome for the group supper Saturday night. Please contact leader.

Wednesday, August 14

Camp Ondessonk Weekend

Carol Klinger, a leader with Piasa Palisades Group of Sierra Club, is leading a weekend outing at Camp Ondessonk in Shawnee National Forest, November 1-3, 2013.  Participants will stay in the "dorms", which have heat and electricity, and are located directly off of the parking lot.  You will have access to showers and a fire pit.  Cost is $11.50 per person per night.  Meals are on your own.  There will be optional exploratory hikes in Shawnee Forest, which is adjacent to Camp Ondessonk.   For more information, contact Carol Klinger at or call 618-288-5630.

Thursday, August 1

Memorial Service for Bob Tyson, Shawnee Group Outings Chair, is set for this Saturday, August 3rd, at 1:30 PM at the Church of the Good Shepherd at 515 Orchard Drive in Carbondale, IL.  Shawnee Group ExCom is discussing a fitting memorial for Bob - possibly a sign at a trailhead.  We also will devote any memorial donations to train new outings leaders for Shawnee Group Sierra Club.  Of course, Bob cannot be replaced.  He was a great hiking companion and a tireless volunteer who helped many people enjoy the outdoors.  Direct any questions or concerns to Barb at or 618-529-4824.

Monday, July 8

Bob Tyson, the Outings Chair and ExCom member of Shawnee Group Sierra Club for many years, suffered a massive heart attack on July 5th while clearing brush from a trail in Cove Hollow.  He was found on the trail by two mountain bikers.

As you may know already, Bob encouraged people to get outdoors, take a hike and enjoy nature by leading hikes, exploring new areas and by posting directions for "self-adventure" hikes here on this blog.  His archives of self-adventure trails will be maintained on this blog, but we do not yet know if anyone will take up this challenge to follow in Bob's footsteps.

Bob also recruited a team of people who are stewards of various trails in Southern Illinois.  Bob made many contributions to Shawnee Group, his church and other organizations.  He will be sorely missed by many people, and leaves a huge hole in the Shawnee Group ExCom. 

Bob had hikes planned for the fall for Shawnee Group's outings.  These have been cancelled, and we are now looking for volunteers to become official outings leaders for Shawnee Group Sierra Club.  It may take several people to each lead a couple hikes per year.  Of course, we can't really replace Bob.

Kay, Bob's wife, wants to set up a memorial fund that would go to promote outings for Shawnee Group.  We are also in discussion about what would be a fitting memorial.  One suggestion would be a plaque at one of Bob's favorite trails.  If you have any questions or suggestions, you can contact me at  or 618-529-4824
Barb McKasson, Chair
Shawnee Group Sierra Club

Tuesday, June 4

Fall/Winter 2013 Outings

This is the Sierra Club hikes for Sept-December 2013. More information on these places are on this same blogsite just by scrolling the index. All hikes require an RSVP to Bob Tyson at 618-684-5643.

Sept 8. Cove hollow Trail. Pomona,ill. Leave Murphysboro ranger station 12:45. this 4 mile shuttle trail offers views of steep cliff lines,shelter caves,slot canyons,frequent lake views. This outing venue may change if the nearby privately owned shawnee cave opens to the public.

Oct 13. Hayes Creek Trails 191-191A. Glendale,ill. Car pool starts murdale Shopping Ctr sign at 9:30, former Wal-mart parking 10am Marion. Other points tba. Well-constructed trails take us along pretty cliff lines which parallel hayes creek. 
Oct 27.  Service outing at Kinkaid waterfall/spillway. Meet 12:45 Murphysboro ranger station. Clean up trash in both the parking area and each level of the waterfall. This is adjacent to Kinkaid lake Trail.

Nov 10.  One Horse Gap. Pope County,ill. Car pool starts 9am Murdale Shopping Ctr sign in Carbondale, 9:30 former Walmart parking in Marion. other points tba. First stop is the geological formation known as the gap. Next we make a loop of trails 169-170 which features a rim trail over a cliff line and views of surounding valleys and ridges. The base trail runs 1.2 miles along 300 ft cliff lines and rock formations.

Dec 8. Fountain Bluff River Trail. Gorham,ill. Meet 12:45 ranger station in Murphysboro. This is on private property. Enjoy continuous views that bisect steep cliff lines on one side, and mississippi river views on the otherr side.

Note: Missouri Sierra Club outings which are within 75 miles of Carbondale will be added when available. Likewise, River to River Society hikes will also be added to this page when available this fall. Check back about mid-September or so.

Monday, March 11

Giant City State Park

Continuing with our series,:Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to self adventure in Southern Illinois",we feature less known places within or near the park. Directions: From Carbondale, take US 51 south 10 miles to the turnoff for Makanda.  Follow the switchback road downhill to the downtown. Turn left,and enter the park.
Our first stop is Fern Rocks Nature Preserve. There are 2 small parking areas on the right and also a larger one on the left. GPS 37.61866 and W89.19564. This is a 2 mile loop.  We will start on the right and walk the base of a continuous pretty cliff line as it zig zags up and down. Rare plants are found here. Soon there are steps and staircase to the top and we continue with frequent overlooks below the cliffs. The trail gradually descends to base level and continues along the cliff line and back to the parking area. From here, the park road takes you to other cliff area trails such as Devil's Standtable, Giant City, and Indian Creek shelter. Signage is clear so further elaboration from me is not needed.
Back in Makanda, turn right onto Old Cobden rd, go past the 4th red and white pole and watch for the River  to River marker on the left side of the road( blue "i"). park roadside and climb steeply to a junction of Red Cedar Trail and the River to River.  The former takes us along the top of this half mile cliff line with distant views; the latter walks the base of the cliff line. Eventually both merge. Walk a little further past the merger to a nice shelter cave. Turn around and take the opposite trail segment back, and descend the trail back to the car.
Upon returning to the car,drive on further a few miles and turn left on Giant City State Park Rd and then an immediate right turn. This road will ascend south. As soon as you see a small farm and mailboxes, turn left into a parking area. Cross the road and follow a lane bordering the house and the trail will go along the edge of woods and field. Soon the trail will descend steeply thru woods to the bottom. Now we are on the Red Cedar Trail which runs 10-12 miles. At the point where it makes a sharp right curve( marker #12),go off-trail a short distance to a nice seasonal waterfall over a shelter cave.  A massive sandstone glade is noted.  Either follow Red Cedar from here or return to the car. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or

Monday, February 25

Hogg Bluff Scenic Area

Continuing with our series,"Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-adventure in Southern Illinois",we feature Hogg Bluff geological wonders. Directions: From Marion,ill take 1-57 to 1-24 to Tunnel Hill exit, cross US 45,and follow about 6 miles to a left onto Gum Springs Rd(just south of the church). This good road will bring you to an unmarked Shawnee National Forest parking area after crossing a bridge. An alternative direction as follows: go east from Marion on rt 13,turn right on rt 166,go thru Creal Springs,and turn right on US 45. Follow this to a left turn on Gum Springs rd just south of the sign for Ozark.
From the parking lot,note the user-made trail going west along beautiful cliffs. This is Cedar Wonders(scroll index for Cedar). It is also a parking access for River to River trail. Cross the paved road and walk east on an old road: the River to River trail turns right; we go straight ahead on an abandoned railbed. This will be a 25 minute walk to our goal as we view distant cliff lines on the left and marsh/swamp on the right. GPS N37.29742 and W-88.45467.  Alas! a 150 ft isolated massive boulder empompassed by a semi-circle creek. Look for an unmarked trail to its top for great views. Evidence suggests that indians used this top for ceremonial purposes rather than military functions. This mass formerly was surrounded by a lake until the Illinois Central railroad put its railbed thru it.  Visible from the roadbed is a perfect semi-circle cliff line on the north side of the creek-very unusual.. Back up to a place where you can cross the creek and bushwhack along the base of the cliff line. On 2-19-13 I found  extensive icicyles dripping from cliffs,many cliff overhangs,and one rockhouse about 25' deep and 40' length. Ownership is confusing: the railbed has private property signs posted as no hunting or fishing, but no postings at the geological oddities. This railbed will run all the way to Camp Ondessonk.More information on this area,contact Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or
3-1-13: a reader clarified ownership. camp ondessonk owns the railbed and postings to keep people from straying off the trail. The geological area belongs to Shawnee National Forest.