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