Wednesday, August 20

Dutchman Lake Trailhead

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature a section of the River to River Trail which starts near Dutchman Lake and terminates on US 45.

Directions: Take I-24 to Tunnel Hill/Goreville exit. Turn left and travel approx 2 miles and watch for Dutchman Lake Road. Travel on that road approx 4 miles and continue past the lake entrance to Bowman Bottoms Road. Turn left, go under the freeway, and come to an unmarked old Forest Service road. Either park roadside or on the small lot with the ecological area sign. Note the R2R trail marker about 100 ft up the hill.

As the trail ascends moderately, we pass a small bluff line. Further along, we cross several utility right-of-way clearings, affording us distant views across valleys. Next we go around a small lake and start a descent into a steep valley. We arrive at Big Bay Lake. The trail continues on top of an earthen dam. Note the dark brown cliff wall carved out from the hill. Next we cross Tunnel Hill bike trail. A nice overlook of the valley floor can be had from the nearby bridge. Continuing on, we traverse some scenic ravine views and our trail becomes a rim trail over a bluff line.

Near the end, our trail is on private property (no tresspassing off the trail) and we end up by residences on US 45. My time for this journey was one hour and 40 minutes. Across from US 45 is a building with a sign -"Red Rooster." It appears that hikers could park there if one wants to travel the opposite way on the trail. I turned around at this point and retraced the route back to the car. The trail is wide and well-marked. One note of caution on this return: On the second to last power line crossing, look for a sharp right turn (R2R sign on a pole); continuing straight ahead would take you on an endless circle. GPS coordinates at the midpoint appear to be 37 29" 39"N and 88 50"31"W. When i was here again Sept.,2010 some trail markers are missing so i abandoned the effort. The R-R trails group said they would deal with it. Another approach would be to take the Tunnel Hill bicycle trail 2.5 miles to the 90 ft tressle and get off onto the trail either left or right.During a hike 02/13/2011, it is noted that signage is repaired. If you started from us 45 going west, once you approach the second urility rightaway,turn right and walk the rightaway for 1/8 th mile or so, then turn left and reenter the woods(r-r sign is there); likewise, if you started near Dutchman lake going east, look for the clearing after the crossing of the bike trail. Upon approaching the clearing,go straight ahead and turn left on the obvious path and look for the r-r sign to re-enter the woods. Another adventure is to walk the bike trail from Tunnel Hill for 3.2 miles and then get off on the River to river Trail. The bike trail will cross 3 tressles, including one that is 90 ft above the the valley.

This section is also noted in the River to River Trail Guide Book. Photo courtesy of the River to River Society. Further information from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or