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.