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