Thursday, December 27

High Knob Trail

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures with Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we highlight High Knob Trail. From Harrisburg, follow Rt 145 to Rt 34. 3 miles south of Herod, look for Karber Ridge Road. At the settlement of Karber Ridge, look for a small sign to High Knob. After a few miles, turn right at the horse ranch (note that the River to River Trail crosses the road to head toward Garden of the Gods). This rocky road climbs steadily to the viewpoint parking lot. Picnic tables and restrooms are noted.

Walk back down the road and find the blue markers for the loop trail. The first one is on the left(east). I walked a little further to the next marker and commenced the trail. I estimate the loop at 1.5-2.0 miles. This spectacular trail runs continually in a circular fashion along the base of cliffs. Prominent features include shelter bluffs, many slot canyons, small caves, rock formations, and unique patterns in the rock. The terrain is rocky but relatively level; Some places have descending stone steps, as well as a small wood staircase. The midway point even has a rough-hewn picnic table. Trash cans are along the route. Near the end, there is a steep ascent for 100 ft thru a narrow stone staircase between boulders.Before ascending,I hope you noted a cave which enables you to walk in 30-40 ft. Bring a flashlight.

In the parking area, note the blue markers going north from the restroom. This path accomodates those who only want to do part of the loop. As you drive back downhill, note two other trails which head east (one is the River to River Trail to Camp Cadiz). Both are a sea of mud due to horse traffic. The River to River Trail is running parallel to the road as we drive by the horse ranch. High Knob is briefly mentioned in the book, Fifty Nature Walks in Southern Illinois. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643. GPS coordinates are 37 36' 0.01"N and 88 19' 41.70"W october,2011: while talking to the owners of High Knob campground at the bottom,we are advised that new cabins are available for hikers and riders. Call 618-275-4494. this horse ranch sits on the River To River trail as well as High Knob trail, Rice Hollow trail and many others. The road up to High Knob sometimes is closed without notice. You can call that number to see if open or closed before making a long trip; Don't count on Forest Service staff to know.

Monday, November 26

Hickory Ridge Trails

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature Shawnee National Forest trails along Hickory Ridge Road.

Directions: Follow south 20th street from Murphysboro until you ascend a hill near a church. Turn left onto Hickory Ridge Road. This road is paved all the way to Pomona. After several miles, we arrive at a four-way stop. Turn right. Note a FS trail near Fairview Church. Forget this overgrown trail-no prominent features. Continue on to the sign for Little Grand Canyon. That area was already described at Set your odometer and drive 1.2 mile to an unmarked firelane on the left (just past Mason Concrete). Park here and walk if the lane is muddy; if not, drive in to the turnabout. The ridgetop trail has good views during leafoff. Note the unmarked trail junction. I took the left fork for a while. It suddenly makes a very steep descent to the bottom of a circular cliff line. Returning to our junction, I took the right fork. At some point there is an ATV spur trail steeply descending to the base of pretty cliff walls. Returning to the right fork, the trail makes a gradual descent to go on forever. I turned around after 40 minutes.

Back on Hickory Ridge Road, drive another 1.3 mile and arrive at a gate (on your left) at the bottom of the hill. This is FS 741. This old roadbed trail runs approx 2 miles. During leafoff, our walk affords unobstructed views of the cliff line. At some point, note a large canebrake patch, creek, and boulder. Bushwhack left about 100 yards to find a pretty rock canyon, waterfall, and a shelter cave to the upper right. Back on the trail, we cross a powerline clearing and continue into the woods. We soon navigate a huge canebrake forest and the trail ends at a creek. In the spring, I noted acres of blue flowers. ,As of May 2009,due to an inland hurricane we cannot follow the trail past the powerline clearing. Unfortunately the remainder of the trail took us to several buzzard roosts high up in the trees. very impressive!

Retrace your route back to the car. Drive about 100 yards to a trail on the right (FS 346C). The first segment traverses a Pine plantation. The trail is often muddy due to ATV riders. Just before the creek, look to the left and follow a long cliff line to its end. Note the unique texture of the rock. Retrace this 0.5 mile back to the car.

Drive another 1.2 mile to find Wolfe Creek Trail. There is a vineyard on the left: continue approx 200 ft and park on the shoulder near a log pile on the right. This faint trail travels in a northwest direction thru woods to reach the start of continuous 2-3 mile cliff canyon. Prior to reaching this point, you will have passed the foundation of an old CCC camp. There is no defined trail in the canyon; Just stay close to the base of the cliff line to avoid getting lost. Do not continue past the waterfall without permission of the landowner. The private property boundary starts here, even though there is no sign. In autumn, the stretch of road from Little Grand Canyon to this point is a continuous blaze of yellow leaves.

The photos are of the bluff line on trail FS 346C and the rock cave along trail FS 741.

More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643. the GPS coordinates for fr 741 are 89 22' 55.20"w and 37 40' 7.90"w.

Wednesday, October 24

Cedar Creek Wonders

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature Cedar Creek Wonders in Shawnee National Forest (this unofficial trail is not on the forest map). Directions: From Tunnel Hill village, go south, cross US 45, and continue straight ahead (Mt Gilead Rd) for approx 6 miles. Just past the church, turn left on Gum Springs Rd. Travel about 2-3 miles to a concrete bridge and note the parking area on the left. Cedar Creek divides the canyon. Take the user-made, half mile trail on your right (north).

We follow a pretty continuous cliff line along with 3 shelter bluffs. Note the solid yellow buffalo petroglyph along the last shelter bluff. The trail seems to end at a huge boulder. It would take a strenuous effort to overcome this obstacle. Upon re-tracing my route back to the car, note a faint trail which can take one to the top of the cliff line for a view over the canyon during leaf-off.

The River to River Trail crosses this area. I followed it west on the south side of the creek for over a mile but no prominent features were noted. It will come out again on Gum Springs Rd about 3 miles further north. I also followed it east from the parking area. There is an unmarked junction after a quarter mile: turn right, cross a bridge, and ascend uphill. No prominent features were noted after a couple miles. A future article will describe another trail in Cedar Wonders which also includes a free-standing natural bridge.

More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or John O'Dell at 252-6789
Photo courtesy of the River2River hiking group. See more photos of this scenic area at

2/12/2012: learned something new. The river to river trail continues east across the road and then ascends uphill on the right; However, if you continue straight ahead on an old railbed, Hogg Bluff awaits. As we walk for a mile and view distant cliff lines, we come to an isolated knob partially surrounded by a creek and a pretty semi-circle cliff line. Bushwhack along this line or ascend the knob for a great view. I am told this railbed will go to Cedar Falls at Camp Ondessonk. One can also get off here and follow south on a user-made trail along ravines and frequent cliff lines to the same falls;However, this involves frequent creek crossings. I also note that people can take US 45 from Harrisburg to Ozark General store, go another 1/2 mile and turn on Gum Ridge Rd to the trail parking area.the coordinates for hogg bluff are n37.29.742 and w88.45.467.

Piney Woods Ravine Nature Preserve

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature Piney Woods Ravine. An article on this area was published in 2001-2 but has disappeared off our website and the Shawnee newsletter archives. This is a re-print.

Directions: Travel west from Murphysboro on Rt 149 to Rt 3. Turn right (north) and drive approx 15 miles. Look for a brown sign as you approach the Randolph County line. Turn right on to Hog Hill Rd and continue up the switchbacks. You will soon arrive at a junction-follow Rock Crusher Rd for several miles until the sign appears again for the preserve. Another 3 miles will bring you to its parking lot.

We start out along a line of trees to an open field. Turn right and find the signboard at the woods. This trail is well-marked as we descend the canyon. We arrive at a junction and note this is a loop trail. Go straight ahead and cross the creekbed. Upon doing so, take the spur trail on the right to visit the petroglyphs. Return to the main trail and hike north and east thru the woods. It finally descends into another canyon with waterfall cascades, stone glades, and pretty cliff walls. The trail ascends and now becomes a rim trail with frequent views down into the canyon. We arrive at our initial junction, turn left and return to the parking lot. I estimate our loop as 2 miles. An alternate route to this place is to follow Rt 4 to Campbell hill, il and note the sign for the preserve,turn left onto Rockcrusher rd. Go approx 5 miles until the sign for turning onto the road for the preserve.GPS coordinates are N37.8881 and W 89.6837.

More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 Photo courtesy of Monika Plumb.

Monday, September 24

Panther Den Wilderness

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures with Uncle Bob - Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we offer an update from a previous article written on Panther Den (see the December, 2002 posting

Directions: From Carbondale, take Grassy Road south to Rocky Comfort Rd. Turn right and follow the signs to Blue Sky Winery. Just past the winery, turn left on Panther Den Road and follow to Panther Den Lane. The county has now reclaimed this lane along with road improvements. This lane will end at a new Forest Service parking lot and can accomodate 6-8 vehicles. The other parking area near Panther Den Road junction is still available.

Both trail loops start here. Let's take the one on the right. This access trail will meet the River to River Trail after 1.5 mile. I turned right (east) on the latter out of curiosity. This muddy, horse damaged segment traveled continuously uphill for 2 miles to end at Fairview Road. No prominent features were noted. The new forest map shows Trail #386 intersecting this trail. I also explored that trail for a short distance until it disappeared into thickets.

Returning to our junction with the access trail, I continued on the River to River trail west to the cliff canyon area. There is an unmarked trail on the right which follows the base of the cliff line for 0.5 mile. That trail passed several slot canyons and ended in a pretty circular shelter bluff. Return to the maze of cliff walls which includes a 50 ft long tunnel cave thru rock. After exploration, continue on the River to River trail as it ascends the valley, passes a small bluff line, and three creek crossings. This muddy, horse damaged trail gets worse. We finally reach a junction: The R-R trail turns west. You want the white diamond access trail straight ahead (note the concrete block). This will follow ravine bottoms back to our parking lot. Trail maps are available at the Murphysboro ranger station. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643. GPS coordinates are 37 34' 47.46"N and 89 5' 17.25"W 04/01/2011:new trail segment 382 now runs about 1.5 mile and branches off R-R trail from east of the den. It reconnects with R-R on the north end before you ascend to the ridge. Features are ravine views and walking thru pine plantation. It by-passes the main feature of the rock maize. Be careful on the return part of the loop: the sign back to the parking lot gets vandalized and you may end up following the R-R trail when it makes a sharp turn to go east and end up on Rocky Comfort road. error: trail 389,not 382. In June,1011 it is noted that the trail marker is often stolen at the point where the R-R trail suddenly turns sharply west. In order not to get lost and return to your car,just continue straight ahead thru this long ravine even if there is no trail tread. It will bring you to the parking lot.
09/16/2012. The Forest Service has made significant improvements this past year. Starting at the parking area,our access trail #371 has many switchbacks to counter erosion and to make the trail less steep. Evidence of the old trail is still here and blocking the old is not all complete. Much of the access trail has been graveled. About 1/8 mile down, a new connector segment will go to R-R trail to the west. After crossing the first creekbed, watch out for a junction where you are to go right on 371,not the obvious old trail. Later on,we encounter a sign which has not been changed. It says Panther Den loop-go right, and R-R go left. That loop does not go to the cliff area; it is the by-pass trail. You need to turn left. The new trail gives us much closer views of cliff lines than the old one. Eventually we reach the canyon maze.   

Mill Branch Trail

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures with Uncle Bob - Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature Mill Branch Trail in Bell Smith Springs.

Directions: Going east from Marion, take Rt 166 thru Creal Springs to US 45. Turn right and proceed to the Village of Ozark. Turn left at the brown sign for Bell Smith Springs and follow approx 10 miles to its entrance road. Rather than driving all the way to the deadend and main parking area, turn at the sign for Hunting Branch Picnic area.

Upon parking, cross a small creek bed and look up to the right for the red diamonds. There is also a white diamond trail straight ahead that will take you to a huge shelter bluff; beyond that, the trail just goes in circles. Our red trail is a 2 mile easy rim loop trail and its main features include frequent views into massive stone glade canyons and waterfall cascades. Near the end of the loop, there is an unmarked trail junction; turn left and continue downhill back to the parking lot.Approx GPS coordinates N 37.565807 and W -88.607482.

While here, consider driving on to the main parking area where there are more trails, including the yellow diamond Natural Bridge Trail. Brochures are available at Forest Service offices. Any questions, contact Bob Tyson at 684-5643.

9-25-10. If the Forest Service still has the turn into Hunting branch Picnic area blocked, continue to the main parking area for Bell Smith Springs. Go to the stone overlook and take the trail on the right as a rim trail. Go about 1/4 mile, descend on the rocks to the bottom, and commence the trail behind the signboard.

Wednesday, August 22

Buzzard Point

Continuing with our on-going series," Adventures With Uncle Bob - Your Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois", we feature Buzzard Point. This is part of the Garden of Gods Wilderness Area (scroll this page index to Trail #112, as well as visit

Directions: take Rt 145 from Harrisburg to Rt 34 and follow thru Herod. South of town, turn onto Karber Ridge Road. Turn at the Garden of Gods sign. Instead of turning into the main area, continue north on the switchback county road until you see the River to River trail crossing. Park on the gravel shoulder. You are now hiking east on that trail. This will travel approx 3 miles to another parking spot on High Knob Road. The first mile is scenic, and then becomes unspectacular until near the end. Expect to dodge mudholes due to horse damage.

Upon hiking about 0.3 mile on the trail, look to the cliff line on the left. Follow along this user-made spur trail to visit several slot canyons and scenic formations. This trail is obliterated when a large rock shelter comes into view. You may want to bushwhack further along the cliffs to reach a nice natural bridge (go behind the bridge and climb up to the top of the cliff line to reach Buzzard Roost: nice overlook over the area). Come back to the main trail and continue along the cliff line to Buzzard Point lookout. While taking in this magnificent view, note two nearby spur trails on the left: one climbs rocky ledges (Buzzard Roost sign) and travels thru a pine forest to reach the stone glade roost. The other is horse trail #110. The Forest Service has changed this to Trail #158 on the new map. This latter trail runs at least one mile along a scenic cliff line and beautiful rock formations.

At some point, the cliff line seems to disappear and the trail is not easily discernable. I know it is supposed to eventually reach Rice Hollow, as I have seen its junction from Trail #137 in the hollow. We will re-trace our route back to the River to River main trail. Go right to return to the car, or go left and follow the trail to your car shuttle on High Knob Road.

As to setting up your car shuttle here, just continue about 50 ft past the horse camp and look to the left for a gravel forest road which will descend to the parking lot. Buzzard Point highline GPS 37 36' 02:N and 88 21' 33"W.  The Buzzard Roost, however shows 88 37'  48"W.

For more information, contact Bob Tyson at 684-5643.

Burden Falls

In our on-going series: "Adventures With Uncle Bob - Your Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we offer an update on Burden Falls. Directions: From Marion, go east to Rt 166 and follow this road thru Creal Springs to US 45. Turn right, and go to Ozark. Turn left and follow the brown Bell Smith Springs signs. After several miles, there is a junction: the right fork points to Bell Smith Springs, and the left to Rt 145. You want to go left. There used to be a Burden Falls sign.

Upon parking at the falls, walk across the stone glade and locate a rim trail on the east side of the canyon. This trail will deadend at approx 0.3 mile. Look down upon a raised boulder which has a hole underneath it. Crawl thru this hole and easily descend to the bottom of the falls. The previous article took the hiker along the west rim trail for some distance before descending to follow the rugged base trail to the falls.  4-6-13: on the east rim trail, boulder is gone. just walk about 60 ft after crossing the rock glade and look over the rim for a user-made path which will switchback to the bottom. As to the rim trail on west side: you will walk about 0.3 mile before th cliff line ends and easily descend.
We discovered a new place in this Burden Falls Wilderness known as Caney Branch Ecological Area. From the waterfall, go east to the 2nd parking access area on this road (gps N37.5859 and W88.6420). Commence the trail and go north almost a mile. Look for an unmarked trail on the right. While not always easy to follow,keep descending until the cliff line is visible on the left. Now bushwhack along this line and note the unusual patterns in the rock surfaces. Later we make a steep descent into a canyon valley. let's cross the creek on stepping stones and another long interesting cliff line appears and seems to go on forever heading east. note the cliff in front of us is tilted at 30 degree angle due to glacial uplift. Upon returning to the parking lot,you may be able to avoid that steep climb back up the cliff line by following the creekbed while keeping you eyes on the cliff line.

For any questions, contact Bob Tyson at 684-5643. This wilderness area was previously featured at: coodinates 37 33' 48.49"N and 88 38' 32.62:W

Tuesday, July 24

Trail #112

As part of our on-going series, "Adventures with Uncle Bob - Your Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we turn our attention to Trail 112, also known as FR 1621. The new Shawnee Forest Service Wilderness map indicates the trail numbers will change. This is part of the Garden of the Gods Wilderness Area (see Directions: From Harrisburg, IL., take Rt 145 to Rt 34. South of Herod, take a left on Karber Ridge Road. Turn north at the sign for Garden of the Gods. Instead of turning left into the main area, continue north on the county road. After the switchbacks, look for an unmarked road on the right with a wood sign. Now we are driving beside a cliff line for a half mile.

Look for a small parking area on the right. Cross the road and descend along trail 112 a short distance to view a pretty natural bridge and its adjacent keyhole in the cliff. It is approx 4 ft high, 20 ft wide, and 5 ft thick. You can go behind it to climb up a bluff for distant views. Come back to the road and walk west about 1,000 ft and note a user-made trail along the cliffs, starting with a 20ft deep rock shelter. Continue on past interesting rock formations, a cave, and slot canyons. Further on, note the huge shelter overhang (30 ft high and 20 ft wide). Pass a couple more slot canyons and note the line patterns as the cliff line curves. At some point, brush impedes further progress and I return to the car. While this trail involves some bushwhacking, you will not get lost while staying along the cliff line.The GPS coordinates at the arch are 88 21' 48.30"W and 37 36' 26.55"N.
4-7-13: this trail is now re-named as trail 010. The marker for #112 is removed. I don't know how to deal with changing the title on the index.

More info from Bob Tyson at 618-684-5643 or John O'Dell at 618-252-6789.

Hamburg Hill Trail

This trail was previously featured in our on-going series: "Adventures with Uncle Bob-Your Guide to Self-adventure in Southern Illinois", in our June, 2005 Shawnee Group newsletter( see The previous article described the first couple miles, starting from its southern trailhead on Old Cape Road; This is an update from the north end of the trail (I could not find it until last year).

Directions: From Rt 146 at Jonesboro,Il., go west and turn left on to Berryville Road. At the first unmarked junction, go right and travel until you see the sign for Water Plant Road. Follow this road thru the plant and ascend the steep grade to the top of the hill. Park near the old water tower. Hike downhill on the eroded, old roadbed. Near the bottom, as the steep ravine suddenly tapers off, look for a faint trail on the left. It will soon widen as an old forest road. You will enjoy viewing the steep ravines, cliff walls, and wetlands.
My first hike on this trail was in the winter when leaf-off made the cliff line more prominent. My last hike in early April featured an impressive display of wild flowers across the wetlands, as far as the eye can behold. The total distance is approx 4 miles; Why not park cars at both ends for a shuttle? 10/05/2011: forget this trail. Recently I checked both ends and can no longer find the trail. It has been overtaken by vegetation in the last 2 years. The Forest Service indicates no plans to work on it.

More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643

Friday, June 22

Cove Hollow Trail

This is an update to a previous article in our on-going series: "Adventures with Uncle Bob - Your Guide to Self-Adventure"( see that article at

1. Assuming you started from the trailhead on Cove Hollow Road, the trail will wind along the cliffs for approx 2 miles before you reach a signed trail junction. About 0.2 mile prior to that junction, notice an easy access to the top of the cliff line which has a nice cave. It looks to be 20 ft deep, 5 ft high, and 10 ft wide.

2. The signed trail junction leaves something to be desired. The mileage is wrong-it should be 4 miles from Cove Hollow Road to Pomona Boat Dock Road (park on the latter for a car shuttle). The sign says go left on the trail for Cove Hollow; Go right for Wolf Den Hollow. Both trails will merge back together in less than a mile, and continue to that Pomona Road. I recommend taking the left fork if your interest is scenic cliff lines. The Wolf Den Hollow segment travels thru ridgetop wooded areas, surrounded by ravines.

3. If you traveled north from the boat dock road, the same trail intersection occurs. No signage here. I recommend taking the right fork. For further questions, contact Bob Tyson at 618-684-5643. GPS coordinates are 37.639446 and -89.29056

Cave Valley Trail

As part of our on-going series:"Adventures with Uncle Bob-Your Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois", we turn our attention to Cave Valley Trail.

Directions: Take Rt 127 south from Murphysboro. Turn at the sign near Pomona for Natural Bridge. While traveling the gravel road north toward the bridge, look for a Forest Service gate and parking area on the right before ascending the steep hill. This trail is an old level-grade forest road. At approx 0.5 mile on the trail, look for an ATV spur trail on the left which will climb steeply to a line of cliff walls. Follow the unmarked trail either direction at the top until it deadends. There are nice views of the valley during leaf-off. Back on the roadbed trail, we are soon looking down into a marsh or wetlands(depending on rainfall) on both sides of the trail, as far as the eye can see. This is a natural area for non-game birds and protected as a nesting preserve. The next point of interest along the way is a marked spur trail which will take you to a large wildlife pond.
Our 1.5 mile trail ends at a wide eroded creek. One could continue across the creek on a trail if you don't mind getting wet. Re-trace the route back to the car. Views of the cliff line from the trail are better on a sunny day during leaf-off. The only detailed information on Cave Valley consists of one page in the Shawnee National Forest DEIS proposal book.

While here, why not continue up the road to Pomona Natural Bridge. The object is viewed from a short walk down steps from its parking lot. The span is 90 ft, 25 ft height, and 10 ft thick. The best photo can be viewed at The GPS coordinates at Cave Valley are 89 20' 37.39"W and 37 38' 27.21"N.

For any questions, contact Bob Tyson at 684-5643.

Friday, May 25

Eagle Mountain Scenic Area

This is a further installment of the on-going series: "Adventures with Uncle Bob-Guide to Outdoor Recreation Opportunites in Southern Illinois".

A Hiking Guide to Eagle Mountain

This area is bisected by the Crest Trail which starts at Glen O.Jones Lake and ends near Old Stoneface. Directions: Take rt 145 from Harrisburg and turn at the sign for Glen O. Jones Lake. You will travel approx 6 miles until the road comes to a "T" intersection. Go right and look for the next road on your left (the sign is turned the wrong way: It should say Eagle Mountain Road). Follow this steep switchback road until it levels off. Look for a boulder along the road surrounded by two trails forming a "V" shape. Either park along the road or travel another 100 yards to a primitive campsite parking area. (see for a partial description of Crest Trail).

At the boulder, take the left trail and soon come to a beautiful boulder-strewn area. The brush between boulders impede an in-depth exploration; However, it is easy to climb up for overlooks. The trail continues steeply downhill and comes to a junction near a long cliff line. Go left to follow a faint trail along the base of this interesting cliff line until the brush gets thick. Return to the junction, go straight ahead, and look for two ribbons on a tree. Turn left and follow the yellow marker leading to the rim trail.

Walking along the rim trail, 75 ft above the valley floor, affords numerous overlooks on the left. Another layer of cliff line (about 20 ft high) is on your right. The line tapers off at some point and I return to the trail junction at the base. If you get confused on which of the three trails return to the top and your car, look for the one with the yellow natural area signs. I have found no brochures for this area. You may want to avoid this road in the event of winter ice, or after heavy rains.

Crest trail has fallen off the above website. This trail is rugged and at least 6 miles. From the Indian statue point of embarkment, we have overlooks over the valley at times. near Eagle Mountain, we are walking along a double-decker cliff line with the trail between both. After crossing Eagle Mountain road, the trail has a nice cliff line for a while, goes thru woods, and arrive at a confusing junction. Turn left and walk a ways to go thru a power line crossing, descend over rocky terrain, and finally end up on a pretty rim trail as you arrive at Old Stoneface.

More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or John O'Dell at 252-6789. The GPS coordinates are N37.669867 and W 88.436112.

Wednesday, May 9

Uncle Bob: Jackson Hollow

This is an update to a previous article written on exploring Jackson Hollow in Southern Illinois. See our website at :

1. While hiking on the north side base of the cliffs, having passed the waterfall, you are on trail 402. When you get to a junction with trail 403,make a side trip on the latter for a short distance view a balanced rock resting above a 20 ft boulder. Return to 402 and continue on to the railroad track. Re-trace your route back to the rim access.

2. You may also want to visit the west side of Jackson Hollow by driving down Trigg Tower Road. Just before the horse ranch, look for a small parking area on the right and an orange electric utility box on the left. Park here, walk south about 50 ft and cross a stone glade area. Head downhill and look to your right. You will find a circular rock shelter about 500 ft long , and approx 20 ft deep. A great geological wonder! Photos are available at On the search line write:

jackson hollow illinois.GPS coordinates are 37 30' 46.99N and 88 42' 5.65 W  12-13-12: the above website is a rewrite. From Marion,ill, go east to rt 166,go thru Creal Springs,turn right on us 45, turn left at Ozark,ill. Go about 5 miles,and turn right on the next road after the Trigg tower sign. This road descends to the parking lot. Forget this place on weekends as rock climbers fill up the lot. Upon arrival,walk west to the top of the waterfall. take the user-made trail on the left to enjoy rim top views. The trail turns north and watch for 2 places, about 1/8 mile apart,to descend to the base.Go right and enjoy the cliff line and rock formations along trail 049. We pass the waterfall and continue along the north side of this U-shaped canyon. We reach the railroad tracks. You can retrace your route back to the car,or ascend to the top and arrive at the parking area. To do the latter, turn right and follow the tracks until you see the obvious unmarked trail back to the cliff line. Go about 50 ft and note a gap between a boulder and cliff line and ascend to the top. Go right. You are now on trail 048. Again we have another trail with continuous rim top views. You will walk about 1.8 miles on this section back to the car. 

Friday, May 4

Swayne Hollow Nature Preserve

Swayne Hollow

This is a further installment of the on-going series: "Adventures with Uncle Bob - Guide to Outdoor Recreation Opportunities in Southern Illinois."

A Hiking Guide to Swayne Hollow (8 acres)

This public area was acquired in November 2006 by the Illinois Nature Preserve Commission. It is 0.5 mile from the Piney Woods Ravine Nature Preserve (see the November 2001 Shawnee Trails newsletter for that hike). The trail is not yet signed, but I did an explore it last December.

Directions from Murphysboro: Take RT 149 to Rt 3. Turn right and travel approx 15 miles to Hog Hill RD (brown sign). This pretty road will soon become Rock Crusher Road. Follow the brown signs to Piney Woods. Upon arrival, by-pass the parking area and continue another half mile to the tree line. I parked along the road and followed an old path downhill to view a stream flowing under a pretty boulder area. The path seemed to vanish at some point. Returning to the car, I drove a short distance to the opening across from an abandoned barn. An ATV path went steeply downhill to the confluence of two creek beds where I viewed a long pretty cliff line and rock formations. There was no way to cross the creeks and follow the rest of the cliff line which veered in a southward direction. I continued west on the user-made trail which afforded overlooks of a creek bed, surrounded by a rock canyon on both sides. Either re-trace your route back to the car or walk uphill to an open field. Turn right and ascend back to the county road. Turn right on that road and walk less than 0.3 mile back to the car.

The Illinois Nature Preserve Commission's mission is to protect the Shining Club Moss, Ground Pine, Chokeberry and Cinnamon Fern species, as well as the aforermentioned geological scenery. No maps are available to the general public (except the one sent to me by the local contact person). For those with compass or GPS, look for USGS topographical map Welge 7.5 minute Quadrangle, Swayne Hollow, Randolph County. For more information, contact Bob Tyson at 618-684-5643 or Judy Dempsey at 687-1169.

Sunday, April 8

Signal Point Trail: Adventures with Uncle Bob

Signal Point Trail View

This is a further installment of the on-going series: "Adventures with Uncle Bob - Guide to Outdoor Recreation Opportunities in Southern Illinois".

A Hiking Guide to Signal Point Trail

This trail was first described in our December, 2003 newsletter. It involved a rugged two mile hike from Lake Glendale Road up to its prominent feature. Last year I became aware of an improved road which takes the hiker within one-third of a mile, thru level terrain, to reach Signal Point.

Directions: Take RT 146 past the entrance to Dixon Springs State Park. Continue east downhill to the first road on your left. The green sign marking is illegible. Travel north approximately 4 miles. When the road curves sharply right, pull off into a grassy area near the pine trees. After you walk about 0.3 mile on this wide trail, you will find yourself on a blufftop overlooking the forested valley. At the first stone glade take a short descent to the valley floor and look for a trail on the left. Now you can hike almost a mile along the base of this cliff line.

Notice the unique wavy patterns in the walls, rock formations, and cascades of water from the top of the bluffs. Upon reaching the end of the bluff line, a short switchback to the top brings the hiker to a "T" intersection. The trail to the right traverses a pine plantation which continues "forever". I didn't hike its full length so I don't know where it goes. I speculate that this trail would connect with the Bluff Top Trail at the state park (See the October, 2006 Shawnee Trails newsletter for this hike).

Back at the intersection, turn left and follow it to the the top of the cliffs to complete the loop and return to the parking area. Along this gladetop hike, note the plant communities and overlooks. Be sure to follow the gladetops, not the ATV path. Equestrian groups maintain the base trail; unfortunately, ATV riders tear up the vulnerable parts of the trail when the soil is damp. This trail is on Shawnee National Forest land; however, the ranger stations have no brochures on this trail. I had to get one from the Lake Glendale concessionaire.Approx GPS coordinates N 37.3995 and W 88.6437.

For further information contact Bob Tyson at 684-5643.

Tuesday, February 27

Adventures with Uncle Bob: Trail of Tears State Forest

This is a further installment of the ongoing series, "Adventures with Uncle Bob" -- a guide to outdoor recreation opportunities in southern Illinois.

A Hiking Guide to Trail of Tears State Park
Directions: Take IL Rt 127 south from Alto Pass. After approximately 5 miles, look for a brown sign and turn right on this county road. You are now on a scenic road that winds through a canyon and eventually ends at Rt 3 by Wolfe Lake. Watch for a sign that says "North Forest Road". (This road is closed to auto traffic from mid-November to April 30 each year.) This well-maintained narrow road is one-way (east to west) and winds through forested ridgetops for roughly 5 miles. Near the end, it descends through a pine plantation and into a tree nursery. After another half mile you will come to the county's North Forest Road.

This area has abundant picnic facilities and accomodations for equestrians. Along the way you will find frequent views into ravines. Note the numerous signed fire and horse trails (sufficient parking is available at each). I hiked a number of the trails, but did not observe anything that I couldn't view just walking on the road. Equestrians have a trailer parking facility on the county road one-half mile west of the forest road sign. An access trail from that facility leads to the trail system and road.

Drive further on the county road to the picnic area and sign to locate South Forest Tower Road. This is also a one-way, traveling west to east. This road similarly traverses forested ridgetops for three miles and ends at the county road. No horses are allowed on this one. There are also a number of picnic and restroom facilities.

I found the South Forest Road to show more scenic views across ravines than the North Forest Road. While one can drive a vevicle on this well-maintained road, walking the road enhances the total experience. It has a number of fire and hiking trails. Note the gated old fire tower. At the picnic area, you can hike a shorter route to the fire tower on the Heritage Trail; however, that trail is very steep.

Trail brochures for this area are available at the White Barn visitor center and also at any US Forest Service ranger station. For more information on this destination, contact "Uncle" Bob Tyson at 684-5643 The GPS coordinates for the parking area to climb up to south forest tower road are 89 21' 41.36"W and 37 28' 49.36"N. An editor labeled this area wrong. This is Trail of Tears State Forest. The Trail of Tears State Park is 10 miles north of Cape girardeau, Missouri.
3-29-13: 3 of us went up north forest road up to the open area near a sharp left turn which has hunter check station,picnic tables,restroom. we went out on the trail there called Main street north-trails 21-30. we want #26. At the first jct-go left.  Ignore 26B. later go go right at the next jct( lost trail). We have traveled about 1.2 miles so far. We soon bushwhack off our trail 26. Note ribbons and logs on the ground in a V shape. Follow the ridge as it veers northeast and we are in for an experience! Soon we are on a razorback trail approx 6 ft wide with steep ravines on both sides and great views over the countryside. At some point the ridge will make a sharp descent, so we turned around and returned to our departure point. It was worth going off trail. By the way, note that this north road is closed from January thru April and/or turkey season.

Saturday, February 10

Get Acquainted With the Night

Moon phase photo

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain -- and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.
I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.
I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,
But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
O luminary clock against the sky
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.
~ Robert Frost

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Monday, February 5

Greetings Shawnee Sierra Club Bloggers

This is my first voyage into posting on a blog. So far, it has been easy. I just have to remember my password. Hey, if I can do this, so can you!

The latest news from Shawnee Group is that we have two new lobby liason volunteers to help with lobbying our state representatives - Rep. David Reis from Olney and Rep. Brandon Phelps from Harrisburg. If you are interested in becoming a member of our Illinois Chapter Lobby Corps, please let us know - here on this blogspot, or call Barb at (618) 529-4824. You must be a Sierra Club member to be part of the Corps. You do receive training and support! Also, you do not have to travel to Springfield. Just lobby your state representative at his/her home office in a town near you! We will even make sure another member comes with you for the interview. We will give you briefings on the bills that we are working on.
If you have questions and think you may be interested, do not hesitate to call me (Barb).

Also, we are in the process of planning an Energy Film Fest, which will take place March 22-31st. If you would like to help with the film fest, please let me know (Barb, 529-4824). We need help with hosting the presentations and also with publicity. Don't hesitate - we need you! The films are all dealing with some aspect of Global Warming, Energy Conservation, Alternative Sources of Energy, etc. It is part of the National Sierra Club project to bring these films to places across the U.S.

Sunday, February 4


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