Wednesday, December 30

Thacker Hollow Trail

Continuing with our series "Adventures with Uncle Bob - Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," this month we feature Thacker Hollow. This trail starts at Hurricane Bluff, 1/4 mile east of High Knob trail (scroll down this blog to both places and directions). We follow #106A as it steeply descends the valley after the bluff line. Near the bottom we travel in a canyon between continuous scenic cliff walls on both sides. One problem in this area shows Forest Service directional signs with trail numbers, while equestrian groups put up their directional signs with different numbers on the same route. Due to poor drainage in wet weather, we note horse damage in many places on the trail. We also circumvent downfalls.

#106 ends and we go left on #180 at a junction. Later the cliffs give way to a valley with extremely high ravines on both sides of the trail. At the next junction, go right on #104 (changes to 107). Note the moss-covered cliff walls. We arrive at a junction noted on the green interim trails map as "Initial Tree." GPS coordinates are 37 36' 25"N and 88 17' 47"W. A horse high line is available. Trail #150 on the right heads south. We continue east on trail #005 and blessed with a continuous 45 degree angle cliff lines, 300 ft rock shelter, 35 ft deep shelter cave, and slot canyons. At some point we are on private property (with permission) and come to Blackridge Road. Turn left and walk up the road to follow this cedar glade as far as desired. Shortly, we can turn right off the glade and bushwhack to the north end of Rim Rock trail. Note the staircase. Signs suggest that it is 3.5 miles from where we parked to Initial Tree.

The above description was with a group from the River to River Society. At a later date I went by myself to see if there was a shorter less strenuous route to Initial Tree. Starting at Hurricane Bluff, I descended 106A to the first junction and turned right on #180. It ascended to a scenic boulder area and horse highline. Thereafter it continued thru a pine plantation and eventually faded out before it could join #185. I returned to the car and took Blackridge Road (take Karber Ridge Road past High Knob Road) until I found a small parking area for trail #184. This road is very narrow so one cannot just park along the road. The parking area was a rutted mudhole. The map indicates that 185 should join 185 south, then to #150, and on to Initial Tree. This would be a shorter hike and I am in contact with Forest Service about the parking.On May 25 two of us checked out shorter routes and less confusing trail numbers. From lower High Knob parking, follow the River to River trail east for 1.5 mile(trail newly resurfaced all the way to Blackridge road),and come to an old unmarked parking lot.Get off R-R trail which turns south and go straight ahead on #151 a short distance to a junction with trail 150. It forms a junction with a choice of two directions. go straight ahead on 150. This trail has been reconstructed, goes thru a beautiful cliff canyon with moss covered walls, ravines, and brings you to Initial Tree scenic area . It took 50 minutes to here from that old parking area. At that destination you use #005 to go to the scenic rock caves. Another shorter route is to take Karber Ridge Rd,and go past High Knob rd, and look closely on the left for an unmarked road and has a brown sign as FS 714 upon entrance. Go up the hill,turn right to a FS gate on the road. Park here and walk approx 1.0 mile to the forementioned old parking area.

8/27/2011. found another interesting route. instead of parking on #184 on blackridge rd, go another mile south to park where possible at #183. easier to see now that trail gravel is visible. go west on 183 for little more than a mile on the rim trail above deep ravines until jct with #185. turn left (south)on 185 a short distance to join #182. the latter will take you to #005 and into the initial point scenic area. go east along the cliff line,shelter bluffs. when this ends in a field you are meeting blackridge rd. either re-trace your route or walk the road for a mile back to the car. Upon further note, I clocked 0.9 mile from that point on blackridge to go south to the jct with #001( r-r trail).This gives a short route to still experience some of this hollow.

On 12/28/11, two of us found another loop trail of interest. We parked at #184 (has gravel in the parking area now). note 2 unmarked trails plus signed 184: one is a firelane thru pines to thacker cemetary, and the other just joins 184 later. walking west on 184 has a number of switchbacks along pretty steep ravines above or below the trail. Near it junction with 185 after 20 minutes, note this long cliff lines with small caves, strange formations,and curved walls. We continued to the right on 185 just to view more cliff line and then returned to the junction to go south on 185 and enjoyed more of the same for the next 30 minutes until we turned left onto trail 183. The latter ascends gentilly uphill back to Blackford rd, turn left and walk O.3 mile to the car. Trail tread was excellent. While walking back to the car, we noted trail 105A. We checked it out and found it to be a shortcut to #185: However, it was very steep and rocky.

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

Monday, November 23

Bell Smith Springs

Continuing with our series, "Adventures with Uncle Bob - Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature the trails in Bell Smith Springs this month. Directions: Go east from Marion on Rt 13, take Rt 166 thru Creal Springs to US 45, turn right and travel to Ozark, turn at the sign for Bell Smith Springs, and go about 12 miles (turns to gravel the last 4 miles).

At the parking lot, let's turn left on the blue-signed Sentry trail. This has level grade most of the time except for a couple swithbacks. This affords continual rim views into the canyon, which are optimal during leafoff. Initially, there is a Jay's Gap sign to descend to the bottom and access the yellow Natural Bridge trail or to walk along the base of the cliff line west to another staircase to the top. Continuing on the Sentry trail, we cross Chute Gap, which is a cascade flowing between rock walls. 1.5 miles later, Sentry trail descends to the creek. Note the cave on your right-about 20 ft deep, 5' high. At this date the creek was 2 ft deep and I didn't feel like going barefoot at 60 degrees; However, blue markers are noted across the creek as one ascends to the other side to continue the loop. I returned to the parking area junction and proceeded on the white signed trail on the right-going west.
This trail will split: the white continues as a rim trail for a half mile and descends to the trailhead for Mill Branch trail (scroll this blog index for Mill Branch). At the split, I descended the staircase to another white sign base trail which follows a pretty cliff line, turned left at a split and continued under frequent rock overhangs. The trail ends at a sign which says "not maintained beyond this point."

Retuning to the area near the staircase, I find the yellow trail for Natural Bridge. This will involve a creek-crossing without stepping stones. After crossing, look to the right for rock stairs. At the cliff line one can either go right to the base of the bridge or climb the metal rungs for a loop traversing the top of the bridge. This has a span of 120 ft and 22' height. The closest GPS coordinates are 37 31' 0"N and 88 39' 0"W. Another picture of the bridge is at (replace Illinois with any state to view other arches). Beyond this site, we are on the blue Sentry trail again (south side). The rim top trail has constant views of cliff walls, opposite the creek. Note the caves and rock shelters. At some point after the trail changed direction, the markers vanished and no obvious path. I returned to the parking lot. Even with the difficulty of making a loop out of the loop trail or avoiding creek crossings, this place is worth your effort. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or During a Sierra hike November,2010,after a summer drought,we were able to make both creek crossings on stepping stones. The first crossing as noted above,is correct for the loop.After doing so,climb up the rocks and the rest of the loop trail will be visible upon turning to the right.

Friday, October 23

FS 747 Trail

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures with Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature the above trail. Directions: In Murphysboro, take 20th street south out of town to Hickory Ridge Road. Follow for several miles to a 4-way stop. Turn right and travel to Fairview Church. The parking area is on the right. This was the scene back in the 80's when there was a long-term protest by environmental groups against East Perry Lumber and Shawnee National Forest.
The trail is an old Forest Service road, traversing continual views of deep ravines on both sides of the path. We encounter rock outcroppings several times. The trail steeply desends to a narrow creekbed. Note a spur trail on the righ whch frequently crosses acreek with some nice views. A long ascent follows to a point where we can see Fountain Bluff in the distance. Eventually we descend to a utility right-a-way and electric tower. The trail goes steeply downward to an open field. I retraced the path back to the car. This trail is worthwhile during leaf-off and the distance out and back is approx 2.5 hours. Avoid this one after frequent rains and also becomes overgrown in the summer and fall. Since this is not an official FS trail, it is not maintained.
Subsequent to this visit, I was here after our May wind storm and downfalls block the entry point of the trail. The picture, above, shows an example of serious erosion along the trail. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or

01/28/2012: forget this trail as the forest service has no plans to repair the trail and is too much work for volunteers to handle the trees on the trail.

Tuesday, September 22

Cedar Bluff Trail

Continuing with our series, "Adventures with Uncle bob-Guide to Self-adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature Cedar Bluff trail and a side trip to BORK'S WATERFALL. Both are on Illinois Dept of Conservation land. Take I-57 south from Marion, Ill. to Lick Creek exit. Go east thru the village, continuing about 5 miles, and come to a junction. Turn left and go to Cedar Grove Church parking lot. The trail starts in the woods on your right. It will gradually ascend for 0.3 mile to a junction with the bluff line. The cliff walls average about 80-90 ft and include several rock shelters. Note the wavy texture of the rock formations and pattern lines. Turn left and follow the cliff line until the trail ends at the private property line. Come back to the junction and continue straight ahead on this trail segment along the cliff line. It will end at approx 0.3 mile. Note the 3 story, free-standing boulder, as well as a path to the top of the cliff (don't try this when the soil is wet and slippery). At the top, turn left, and bushwhack a short distance to an unobstructed view over the valley and adjacent ridgetops. This is a major rapelling area. Return to the car.Coordinates are N37.521718 and W-89.022851.

Take Cedar Grove road north from the church about 6 miles (first 3 are paved) and note a parking lot just before a stream which flows across the road. One choice is to walk over the stream and take the rim trail on the east side of the chasm. At some point you will see an obvious place to drop to the bottom of the cliffs and go to the base of the falls. Another choice is to descend the R-R trail by the parking lot and enjoy the cliff lines as you descend on this service road to the bottom. Then turn left at the clearing and pick up the base cliff trail to the waterfall. This flows over a wide shelter bluff and approx 50 ft. Another access to the falls is available by taking Goreville exit on I-57, go east and turn right on Regent Road.coordinates at the waterfall are 89 1' 19.44"w and 37 32' 29.41"N

More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or

Monday, July 20

Hayes Canyon Trail

Continuing with our series,"Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois", we feature Hayes Creek Canyon. Directions: follow Rt 13 east from Marion to Rt 166 thru Creal Springs and to US 45. Turn right and go to Ozark. Turn at the sign for Bell Smith Springs. Continue on Ozark Rd past Bell Smith, past the the junction with Cedar Grove Rd and continue to its end with another blacktop road. Turn right and go to the horse ranch. An alternate direction is at Eddyville, Illinois. Follow the sign thru town to the horse ranch.

Arriving at the ranch, either park by the office or take the 2nd right at the stop sign. At the next intersection, go straight ahead and park by the picnic tables and outhouse. Don't park in any spaces allocated to horse trailers/campers. The signed trail starts here and is well-graveled. Shortly, there is a signed spur to DOUBLE BRANCH HOLE. This top view on a massive stone glade looks out at two waterfall cascades which form a "V" shape. I did find a way to bushwhack to the bottom to take in the view and pictures( difficult to get both cascades into one picture). The main trail seems to veer away from canyon views;However, you can easily walk along the stone glade rim for continuous views into the canyon, which will run parallel to the main trailfor 2/3 of the distance before intercepting the gravel one. Note the shortcut spur to the highway.

At approx one mile, one has to cross a creek on stepping stones and continue west to other trails which lead to Jackson Hole, Blue Hole, Petticoat Junction,etc. Having already done these before, I returned to the car. If the horse ranch gives you any problem with parking there, drive north to the next blacktop road, turn left, and go to Mustang Lane. Once parked, go to the trail junction with Jackson Hole and hike east for 2.5 miles to Double Branch. Scroll down this blog to Jackson Hole for more detail. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or

GPS coordinates are 37 30' 03" N and 88 35' 12"W

9-1-09. message from camp owner: don't park where article indicates. go to the center of the campground where the main restrooms are, and park in the labeled lot next to it. hikers can use the facilities. check in at the office first if open. happy trails! 9-15-10. one of our bloggers who is a photographer has provided a super picture that has captured both falls on the same picture at his site:

10/25/2011: we tooksome trails on the west end of the canyon for exploration. In Eddyville, turn west near the post office and follow l mile to the trailhead for River to River( 001). Take this trail to the jct for 496B and follow across the creek. turn left. Later we junction with 493 and have two choices. We turned right. Soon we observe a pretty cliff line known as Buffalo Bluff. Soon we ascend as a rim trail, looking steeply down to the canyon floor. Step off the trail to peer over it. Soon we veer away from the rim and the trail becomes a muddy quagmire before reaching the jct with 498. We turned left: This will run west and then straight south as awell-graveled trail. We junction with 498J (worn off looks like an I ). Follow 498J back to meet 493 as a loop. Upon reaching the jct with 496B, we continued on 493 for a pretty cliff line. It ended at 001. Don't take 001 back to the car as it is not scenic and much longer; Otherwise, just retrace back to the car on 496B.
I am happy to report as of 11-11-12, that the rim trail segment of 493 which leads to 498, has been graveled the whole distance. Due to its "zig zag" new layout the trail seems longer. Great effort by Forest Service.

Thursday, June 18

Jackson Hole Trail

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures with Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature Jackson Hole Trail in Shawnee National Forest.

Directions: Follow Rt 13 east thru Marion, Il., then turn south (right) on Rt 166. Travel thru Creal Springs to US 45. Turn right and follow to Ozark, turn left at the Bell Smith Springs sign on Ozark Rd. By pass Bell Smith Springs (ignore the jct with Watertower Rd-it goes to Rt 145) and come to a jct with Cedar Grove Rd. Continue straight ahead for 0.5 mile and turn right on Mustang Lane (used to be called McVickers Ranch lane). Thanks to the tip from one of our bloggers. This road is good for a half mile and suddenly becomes a jeep road near a farm. I talked to the resident, Mr Giuffre, who advised that permission is granted to park on the wide shoulder near his driveway. For those of you with a horse trailer and high clearance truck, continue down the jeep road past the trailhead and look for a trailer parking area. Having parked the car, walk 1/4 mile to the trail junction of #497 and #498. The first one - #497 - says 1/4 mile to Jackson Hole and 2.4 to River to River Trail. #498 says ranch and Double Branch hole. The wide, graveled trail comes to a spur for Jackson Hole: we are on a Cedar stone glade on top of the falls. On this date-Jan 22 - the falls were frozen and so were the glade and rock. Don't attempt to descend to the base of the falls under these conditions. A few months later I was at the bottom to bushwack the base of these 200 ft cliffs. We continue on a user-made trail which goes under a rock shelter and circular cliff line. I noted that continuing further on #497 there is nothing of interest for the next 2 miles until arriving at the jct with Blue Hole trail.

I returned to the junction and went east on #498. The gravel tread was excellent. There is a confusing jct with #493 which says Double Branch trail. Another sign says continue straight ahead for horse camp and Double Branch. Continuing on #498 there are some distant views of the canyon while steeply descending to the creek and entering the horse ranch. I did explore #493 as it has frequent overlooks 300 ft above the canyon floor. The trail is not in good shape. At some point I turned around and returned to the car. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or The GPS coordinates are N 37 30' 30" and W 88 36.555

4-27-10: Since the jeep road section to access Jackson Hole is private property, an owner has closed it-no trespassing. This is because some hunters killed the owner's dog along that section. Hikers will now have to access the trail via Hayes canyon (scroll this blog for directions). A hiking organization may be cleared to access but I will not be publishing the contact person in this blog.
3-1-13: issue is resolved now that the county reclaimed mustang lane. road is improved so you can drive a truck down to the end; Otherwise, it is okay to park on the overhang and walk the rest of the way to trail #457.

Tuesday, April 28

Ranbarger Hollow Trail

Continuing with our monthly series "Adventures with Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature the above trail in Bald Knob Wilderness. See for other trails in that wilderness. Directions: Frrom the south end of Alto Pass, Ill., turn off Rt 127 at the sign for Bald Knob Road. Travel about 4.3 miles on this winding tar road and look for a parking area just uphill from the horse ranch.

We start out on the River to River Trail and soon reach a junction on the left for Ranbarger Trail (#204). The Shawnee National Forest brochure says the trail is 3 miles, but I calculate it at two. The salient feature of this trail during leaf-off is that of a ridgetop backbone trail with continuous views down steep ravines on both sides of the trail. Occasionally, one will be walking in deep gullies filled with leaves. The first junction has Bald Cross Trail on the left. That one has even steeper views of ravines but the trail becomes less discernable after 20 minutes.

Continuing on Ranbarger, the trail winds up and down but not steep. At a ridgetop (about 1 mile), note an unmarked junction-go left and head downhill. It is rocky tread for a short distance. There are few trail signs but the direction seems obvious. At 1.8 mile, another unmarked junction on the right-the sign is laying on the ground: go straight ahead and now steeply descend downhill for a short distance and come to an old Forest Service fence and creek. The Forest Service has extended the trail on the left to cross a deeply eroded creekbed; However, once across, the trail is obliterated by a huge downfall. I traced the route back to the car. The trail is only worthwhile during leaf-off and overgrown with weeds on the trail from May-October. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or GPS coordinates at the parking area appear to be 37 34' 08"N and 89 21' 42" W

Sunday, April 12

Garden of Gods Update

Many people who visit the Garden of the Gods Recreation Area are unaware of a roadside natural bridge in the immediate area. While checking an article on Garden of Gods Wilderness area on our website: , we have made an oversight of this feature in the article. Directions are as follows: Take the entrance road to the GOG parking area wherein lie the main trail and picnic area. Look for a small parking pull-off with a rail fence. After parking, cross the road and climb up the hill approx 50 yards. On a recent outing, we measured 23 ft wide, 18 ft high, 12 ft thick, and an average of 5 ft away from the cliff line. GPS coordinates 37 36' 04.02" N and 88 22' 42.7" W

Things have dissappeared on the website cited above so here is the details on the whole area. From Harrisburg,ill., take rt 145 to rt 34. turn left and proceed thru Herod,ill. for another 4 miles and turn left on Karber Ridge rd. Follow this road a few miles until the sign for the above area. Turn into the entrance road and go to the main parking area. A one mile loop partially paved trail starts here that will take you to numerous rock formations, many cliff tops for views over surrounding ridges, and free standing boulders. Afterwards, note the trail on the northwest end of the lot that will take you along unusual rock formations. If that is not enough, walk the river to river trail downhill from the parking lot,and parallels the road, for an interesting cliff line and all of the slot canyons. It also goes past the forementioned natural bridge. Formations in this area include Camel Rock,Devils smokestack, Chimney rock, Table Rock, and Fat Man's Squeeze. If you came to this page from our new website at, the picture on the home page is this place. Make a day of it and also explore Indian Point Trail and Hitching Post trail, by scrolling to them on this blogsite.

Thursday, March 19

Hurricane Bluff Trails

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature Hurricane Bluff Trail, Grindstaff Hollow, and FS 106A Trail. All 3 are adjacent to each other.

Directions: Scroll down to High Knob Trail on this blog to get directions from Harrisburg. Rather than park at the picnic/observation site on top of High Knob, go to the lot just before the stone pillars. Cross the road and follow the River to River trail for 1/4 mile and arrive at a signed junction by an old barn. Follow Snow Cone Trail (also known as horse trail 117) a short distance to a massive stone glade with pretty boulders. This is known as Hurricane Bluff. Continue on the trail while enjoying views over the cliffs and ravines. After another 1/4 mile, things did not seem that interesting. Continue past a pond, old grave yard, rotting structures, and turn left at a free-standing chimney. At some point I turned around and returned to the stone glade Hurricane Bluff.

Note two side trails start here: Trail 106A and Grinstaff Hollow. #106 follows the base of a tall pretty cliff line and huge, free-standing boulders for 1/2 mile. At some point the cliffs diminish and the trail descends into the woods. I turned around and returned to the above junction.

Let's take the Grinstaff (#164) trail, also known as horse trail 117A. This trail gradually descends, continually. Salient features include a continuous cliff line up to 100 ft high, slot canyons off the trail, a 30 ft tunnel thru rock, and beautiful rock formations. After a half mile, the trail makes a steep descent, veering from the cliff line, and headed for a boulder-strewn valley. One can bushwhack off-trail to continue the cliff line but the brush impedes progress. I turned around and returned to the parking lot.

Trail 117 has poor tread due to horses; However, trails 106A and 164 have no damage, although they are rocky. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 and, or John O'Dell at 252-6789. The GPS coordinates are 37 36' 05"N and 88 20' 16"W

Wednesday, February 11

Cedar Grove Trailhead

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures with Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature this section of the River to River Trail from Cedar Grove Road to Bay Lake. Its length is 3.7 miles, and I rate it at moderate level (alternates between level grade and stretches of up and down). 2/3 of the trail travels on old Forest Service road and the remainder along narrow paths.

Directions: Take Tunnel hill exit off I-24, follow thru Tunnel Hill to US 45, cross the latter and proceed to the junction with Rt 147. Turn left and go several miles to Cedar Grove Road; turn left, and go approx 5 miles, pass Flamini Rd and start looking for the River to River (R-R) trail crossing. Park here and go west. The first 1 and 1/4 miles are not too exciting-some overlooks over ravines. Come to a clearing and note a side trail on the right. I went down this one for 30 minutes and found it deeply rutted due to horse damage and lacks direction near a steep downhill slope. It is supposed to go to Sand Cave.

Back on the R-R trail, we walk out of the woods onto Flamini Rd. Turn right, walk past a couple residences and re-enter the woods. Tread is rocky. Come to a three-way junction: go straight ahead or slightly left. Later on we come to another junction with Ruby Falls trail-go left. Soon we encounter a steep grade and walk along the base of a high ravine. Note the boulders on top of the ravine. We can see the edge of Bay Lake now. Later we come to a cliff top glade with a lookout over Bay Lake dam and the surrounding ridgetops ( pictured above). From here the trail descends to the county road. Up ahead you will find a junction to continue the R-R trail west for 2.4 miles to East Trigg trailhead, or to turn right for the lake.

I turned around and returned to the car. Due to places where the trail is narrow, you may not want to do this trail when all the leaves are down. Put this hike together with 3 other trails indexed on this blog (Peter Cave, East Trigg, and Cedar Wonders) and you will be able to follow the River to River trail from the west section of Hayes Creek Canyon to Tunnel Hill-Simpson blacktop road. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or
GPS coordinate for Cedar Grove Rd 37 29' 31"N and 88 38' 28"W.
12-3-2012: The first paragraph noted a side trail going to Sand Cave. This is marked now as trail 030. I walked this trail and is in great shape: lots of switchbacks for gentile terrain, well graveled,well marked along the way. Scroll this blog to sand Cave where i have a complete description of 030 loop trail.

Tuesday, January 13

East Trigg Trailhead

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature this River to River Trail section (trail 001 or blue "I" on signs) which connects East Trigg trailhead with Bay Lake.

Directions: From US 45 at Ozark, Ill. turn left and follow the sign to Trigg Forest Tower; However, the trailhead parking area is approx 3 miles north of the tower and will be on your right. Watch closely since there is no sign on the road itself. Alternate directions are from I-24 Tunnel Hill exit. Follow thru Tunnel Hill, cross US 45, and follow to Rt 147. Turn left, go a few miles, and watch for signs to Trigg Tower. Again, the trailhead is north of the tower.

Cross the road after parking and we head east. The first 1-1/4 mile is steadily downhill, but not steep. Nothing of interest is noted. This is an old forest service road. As we approach the big culvert under the elevated railroad bed, the trail is rocky for a short distance. Go thru the culvert-now the trail is narrow, but flat. The next mile or more is impressive. We are running parallel with the railroad track, averaging about 75 ft above us. Below the tracks, we are continually viewing either a cliff line or steep ravine. In some places, vegetation is over the trail but the path is discernable (don't come here in tick season). At a later point we have a confusing junction: Note the gate on the right. You need to turn left and cross the small creek on stepping stones. Continue straight ahead on the roadbed and reach the junction with county road 463. This spot is marked with R-R(River to River trail) signs both ways. If you want to continue on R-R to Cedar Grove Rd, continue straight; otherwise, turn left and go 1/4 mile to Bay Lake. If you drive up from county 2 off Rt 147, you better park here at this junction and walk unless you have a jeep.

The Bay Lake area is very interesting. We are on top of an extensive rock glade. Below the glade are isolated rock formations, featuring a slot canyon. A trail continues across the top of the dam affording scenic views high above the lake. Upon crossing, there is no indication where this unsigned trail leads. I turned around to retrace the route back to the car. At the railroad culvert, note trail 049 heading north. That trail had some similar cliff and ravine views until I found it blocked by downfalls at some point: it may go to Jackson Hollow. While here, drive over to Trigg Tower and climb to the top for fantastic views.

At the junction of two roads near the tower, there is a wide trail which will join the R-R trail after 1/4 mile. It will go to Cedar Wonders on Gum Spring Rd. Nothing of interest was noted on this section except for one view of a steep ravine. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or There is confusion as to whether GPS coordinates are for the trailhead or for the fire tower,but try this:37 30' 0"N and 88 42' 30"W. Upon second visit,be aware that you will get wet trying to cross that creekbed after a wet spring. o7/07/2011. when tree cover is thick,it can be harder to see the parking area on trigg tower rd. If so, look for the river to river trail white and blue marker on the opposite side of the road from the parking area as your hint to look for the opening. On a further note, the brown sign at us 45 and Ozark, may say bell smith springs instead of trigg tower: turn left here no matter what. 10/05/2011: The Forest Service states that the coordinates at the tower are 88 44' 10.08"W and 37 29' 15.90"N.