Monday, May 12

Fountain Bluff Trails

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature an update on FOUNTAIN BLUFF in Shawnee National Forest. There has been two previous articles on our website ( which highlighted several trails in this place: Tyson Canyon, Mississippi River Trail, petroglyphs, and Happy Hollow Road. Now an additional feature is accessible which I will name Waterfall Canyon.

From Murphysboro, take Rt 149 west to Rt 3. Turn left and travel to the village of Gorham. In town, turn onto Second Street which will become Fountain Bluff Township Road. As you drive along the base of this tall bluff line for a mile, look on the left for a small parking area with a 5 ft waterfall. As of May, 2008, someone has put up ladders to enter the canyon. I don't guarantee that vandals could walk off with them. Despite the effort to climb up to the canyon floor, you will be rewarded with 3 big rock shelters, a waterfall cascade, a user-made trail between canyon walls on both sides, and a spectacular view of the moss-covered walls converging to a width of 5 feet. Upon narrowing, note the natural stairsteps continue to ascend as far as you can see. I did not follow up very far as the cascade made the surface slippery.

02/20/2012: Great views on top of Fountain Bluff road and its obsedrvation points over the river. However, don't go up here in late summer/early fall. Ragweed infestation almost covers the road and obstructs ravine views on both sides of that road. Previous storms opened the canopy to cause the growth. Forest Service will not deal with it. From Rt 3, take Happy Hollow rd to the top of this mountain.
04/16/12: Since the rest of the info on this area fell off the former website, let me elaborate here. The first place is Tyson Canyon. Upon turning onto Gorham rd from rt 3, go a half mile and park across the road. walk in on the farm lane until you note the trail sign to go to the tall cliffs. Nice shelter cave. Next is a detour around the 2008 storm damage to the lane and then back onto the cliffs again. Another shelter cave and unique rock formation are next. Turn into the canyon for views of steep ravines, a cave, and finally, a creek side walk to the waterfall in the cul-de-sac. Return to the car. Drive out 2nd street, or go 2 miles thru town to Foutain Bluff road( road goes between 2 farms). Park at the waterfall. Enjoy walking the road to take in the great endless cliff views. When you see an isolated grove of trees on the north side of the road, look across the road for a user-made trail to the petroglyths. GPS 37 42' 40.5"N and 89 28' 52.1" W. Back in the car, return to rt 3, go south and look for Happy Hollow rd to ascend to the top of Fountain Bluff.

For further questions on this area, contact Bob Tyson at 684-5643

(Photos courtesy of the SIU Student Environmental Council)