Monday, December 6

Quetil Trail

Continuing with our series "Adventures With Uncle Bob - Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature Quetil trail, owned by the Village of Alto Pass, IL. Directions: Take Rt 127 south from Murphysboro to Alto Pass. Proceed thru town to a small parking lot. The entrance to the trail is well-marked, along with a historical display marker. This level-grade trail is a renovated old rail bed approx 1/4 mile long. Most of it is graveled and there are 3 benches along the way. On the left we have a pretty,long cliff line averaging 40-50 ft; On the right, note all of the free-standing huge boulders. During leaf-off, note the adjacent valleys and ridge tops.

At one point there is a rock staircase in the cliffs to ascend to the top for the picnic area and further views over the horizon (you can also drive to that bluff top from downtown). Eventually, the cliff line will diminish and the trail continues thru the woods, ending at a private property gate.

This is an excellent trail for those who are more physically-challenged or unable to handle most trails in the Shawnee. GPS coordinates 37.64859 and 89.34329 Pomona Quad. Any questions, contact Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or

Friday, November 5

Limekiln Trail

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature Limekiln Trail in Cypress Creek National Wildlife refuge. Directions: Take I-57 south from Marion, IL, to Ullin exit. Proceed east on Shawnee College Road. There are two trail heads. Turn right onto Cache Chapel Road for the west end; turn right onto Long Reach Road for the east end. The trail parking lots are clearly marked and both approx 4 miles from I-57 exit. The trail is approx 2.5 miles long. While in this area, there are other trails to the east: scroll down this blog to Cache River trails as well as our website for Heron Pond( I started at the east end.

For the first mile, we alternate prairie and floodplain forest. The refuge people indicate I am looking at giant and green Foxtail vegetation along the way. This wide grass trail is mowed well and small trees have been removed to make the trail. Tall grasses line the edges. Soon this becomes a rim trail overlooking the Cache River swamps. We arrive at a clearing point to view Tupelo and Cypress trees in the water. Note the thickets of Button bush across the river similar to Kudzu. Later, we arrive at another clear overlook with more extensive views of the same in the lake. Note the distant duck blind. Traveling on, there are private property signs - just don't venture off the trail. No fishing or hunting here. Continuing on, we cross two sets of 200-500 ft wood footbridges. Later, the trail becomes an old road thru the forest, and ends at the west trailhead parking. I clocked 1 hr and 20 minutes to complete the trail. Upon contacting their office (618-634-2231), it is suggested that April is optimal for a visit as spring flowers/vegetation proliferate. With heavy rains, a couple spots on the trail could be flooded. More info at the above number or Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or UTM coordinates are 315467 and 4128024.10/05/2011:other coordinates are 89 6' 39.83"W and 37 16' 43.09"N

Thursday, September 23

Indian Point Trail

Continuing with our monthly series,"Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature Indian Point Trail in the Garden of Gods Wilderness Area and part of Shawnee National Forest. This trail was described in the December, 2006 Shawnee newsletter but never got placed on the website. Here it is again.

Directions: From Harrisburg, IL, take Rt 145 south to Rt 34. Follow it thru Herod, IL, and turn onto Karber Ridge Rd. Go about 5 miles and turn at the sign for Garden of the Gods. Turn on this entrance road to the recreation area and follow to backpacker parking lot. The signboard says no horses or rappelling. The trail starts as a continual gradual climb thru a pine plantation. Come to an unmarked junction: Go straight ahead if you only want to access the Indian Point overlook, or to start the loop trail from the cliff base; Otherwise, you can turn left and take in the views from the top of the cliff line and later descend on switchbacks to the base trail. Let's start from the left, knowing it will be easier to descend the switchbacks, rather than a long ascent.

Continue thru the woods until the trail skirts the cliff tops. We have frequent overlooks over distant ridge tops as well as cliff canyons below. Eventually we make a continual gradual descent on switchbacks. Watch for an unmarked junction: turn right and arrive at the base of the cliff line. The trail has been easy to follow due to blue markers.

The cliff line runs approx 3/4 mile with frequent, gentle "up and down" rocky terrain. At the point where the trail goes uphill and touches the cliff, climb uphill off-trail to a 30-40 ft shelter cave. During leaf off, we still have views over distant ridge tops. Note the anvil shaped free-standing boulder. Go another 20 ft and climb up to 2 large caves. One has a right turn inside, making the cave about 75 ft long. Back on the trail, go about 100 ft and climb a major slot canyon. Later on, we approach 2 more shelter caves: 20 ft and 40 ft. After reaching the end of the cliff line, we ascend thru woods to Indian Point with its unobstructed views over the valley. Watch all the buzzards glide thru the air without flapping their wings. The trail continues to the left. Reach the original loop junction and return to the parking lot. While here, drive over to the main parking area for the observation trail. Other nearby trails are described on this blog index. Distance on this trail was approx 2 miles or 2 hrs and 10 min with off-trail exploration. GPS coordinates are approx 37 36' 0" N and 88 23' 0" W. Further info contact Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or

Tuesday, August 10

Shawnee Saltpeter Cave

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we present Shawnee Cave. In November, 2006 an article appeared in the Sierra Club newsletter for it, but never got posted onto the website; this is a reprint.

Take Rt 127 south from Murphysboro, IL, for 7 miles and watch for the sign at the top of the hill. Turn right and follow the road thru the gate downhill to the trailer and pay the entrance fee: $5.00 per person and kids are free. Always call 618-687-9663 to make sure it is open. The owner's main business is selling firewood and promoting music festivals at the cave. This means he cannot be home all the time. Visit the website at for upcoming music events. No glass bottles or pets allowed.

Continue downhill to the parking area. This shelter cave runs several hundred feet. Note the intermittent waterfall over the rim. Upon following the north end of the cliff canyon, note a bridge. Take this thru another parking lot and resume the trail. At some point it reaches a clearing, turn right. We come to Big Bear Den slot canyon. Further along, we cross a bridge with missing planks and continue downhill to form a loop trail. At some point note a side trail on the left to ascend 5 ft to the base of a pretty cliff line and lake. Little Bear Canyon is on the left as a tunnel thru a cliff. Retrace your route or continue the loop to arrive back at the parking area. Several picnic tables here as well as restrooms. Boating is no longer allowed for insurance reasons.

On the way back uphill to the entrance, we have signs to turn left for rim views. The road is part grass and then gravel. Due to some deep ruts in the road, you may want to park near the entrance and walk, unless you have a high clearance vehicle. Walk about 1/3 mile. There are 4 observation points to look down the canyon, the cave, and adjacent ridge tops. There is a turn around place at the end that loops around a cliff formation. There has also been a line of cliffs along the way on the right. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or The GPS coordinates are N 37.652625 and W 89.321541 08/31/12:there is now a "for sale"sign at the closed gate. Rather than delete this article,I will wait and see if someone will re-open it.

Monday, June 28

Lake Glendale Trail

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob - Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature the above trail in Shawnee National Forest. Directions: From Marion, IL, take I-57 to I-24. Get off at the Tunnel Hill exit. Proceed thru Tunnel Hill to US 45. Go straight ahead and the road is now called Gilead Church Rd. After approx 12 miles you come to a junction with Rt 147 and turn left. Follow it to Rt 145 and turn right (south). Within 5 miles, turn at the Lake Glendale Recreation Area sign.

Just past the entrance, I turned right on a road which accesses camping, boat docks, and picnic areas. Since we start the 3.2 mile loop trail anywhere, I parked at Cardinal Bay (the road to the beach and major parking area was closed for repairs). We go north and east, cross the dam, and go past the swimming and picnic area. Note that boats are for rent and a sign says no gas-powered boats allowed. This trail will hug the lake the entire distance, including its inlets. I note this trail is easy to follow with graveled tread, and there are many wooden bridges to avoid streams and erosion.

At the first inlet (1.3 mile), I encounter one fast-flowing stream over a sharp-pointed slippery glade and 6 inches deep. This really needs a bridge-talk about a dangerous spot! Shortly thereafter, cross another 9 ft wide stream without a bridge-not as deep. Next I come to an unmarked intersection-go right. I think the other trail heads to Signal Point. We do have bridges the rest of the way. We come to Duck Bay picnic area and rest rooms. Cross the circle drive and resume the trail. Later we run along Cypress trees and knobs in low water areas. From here, the trail runs near camping and picnic shelters. One sign points to a parking area on the main road for Signal Point trail. However, if you scroll down this blog to that trail, you will find an easy way to access that trail without a long rugged hike. This means driving east past Dixon Springs State Park on rt 146 and then back north a few miles on the county road- very scenic and worthwhile!

Finally arrive back at the car with a total time of approx 2 hrs. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or GPS coordinates are 37 24' 53.60N and 88 39' 42.92"W.

Tuesday, May 25

Rocky Bluff Trail

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob - Guide to Self-Adventures in Southern Illinois," we feature Rocky Bluff trail in Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. This trail was previously described in the April, 2006, Shawnee Newsletter but was not posted to the website. Parking in this refuge requires a Crab Orchard $2 sticker, Golden Age or Golden Eagle pass. Stickers may be obtained at the office on Rt 148 south of rt 13, or at Devil's lake concessionaire (open in late spring).

Directions: From Carbondale, take Giant City Road several miles and look for Grassy Road. Turn left and drive 5 miles to the sign for Devil's Kitchen Lake. Turn right, and go to the "t" junction. Turn left, follow across the bridge to the parking area. For those coming from the south, take I-57 to Rt 148 exit. Turn west and travel approx 5 miles and Grassy Road is next to a utility substation and general store.

At the trailhead, note that this is a loop trail-go either way for 1.8 miles. Nice overlook over the canyon at the start. The tread on this trail is excellent and easy to moderate. Also note several benches to rest. We will take the top segment of the trail. The trail starts thru a pine plantation. At 0.18, note a connecting trail to make a short loop. Our trail continues gradually uphill for 0.29 and comes to a junction. Turn left onto this old road. Go 0.26 on this road to a junction with Turkey Trail and Rocky Bluff. Turn left again. Now we have frequent views into deep ravines (especially during leafoff). Note a cliff line on the right down in the valley. We will make a sharp descent on waterbars. The trail then ascends with more ravine views and a mess of downfalls from the May, 2009, wind storm.

Now we descend down stair steps and a handrail to a cliff line which continues for the rest of the loop. This line averages about 10-20 ft high and a creek parallels us on the right. Note the small cave and overhang. Near the end, note the circular cliff canyon and waterfall. The trail ascends to the trailhead via stair steps and handrail. GPS coordinates could not be found but for a reference to topo map USGS 1:24000 Crab Orchard lake. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or

Friday, May 7

Wetland Blitz

Volunteers Needed to Inventory Wetlands in Southern Illinois

The Sierra Club is hosting a Wetland ID Blitz on Sat. June 5 from 9 am - 2 pm. The Blitz is part of a Sierra Club Water Sentinels and Ducks Unlimited partnership to update the National Wetland Inventory for Illinois. Meet at Longbranch Coffee House at 100 East Jackson Street, Carbondale, IL. Bring your digital camera and download cord. We'll train you and send you out to visit 8-10 wetlands in Jackson County. Then we'll meet back together to download photos and compile collected data over lunch. If you do not have a camera, don't let that be a reason not to participate. RSVP to Terri Treacy at or at 618-521-1030 by June 1.
We also need inventories done in other southern Illinois counties. So, if you’re interested in working in another county, please consider coming to the June 5 event in Jackson County to get trained and we’ll set you up with the materials you’ll need to work in the other counties on your own.

Project Background - The Wetland Blitz event is for volunteers wishing to visit wetlands in Illinois to help with the field verification for an update of the state's inventory of wetlands. Volunteers trained at the Jackson County Wetland Blitz will be qualified to gather inventory
data independently in counties throughout southern Illinois. Ducks Unlimited (DU) has received an Illinois State Wildlife Grant to update the National Wetlands Inventory for Illinois. For additional information on this project, see

Using aerial photographs, DU is currently tracking the fate of wetlands included in Illinois' inventory from the 1980's. To check the accuracy of the photo review, a random 2% of the identified wetlands will require field verification. It is estimated that 6000 wetlands throughout Illinois will need to be visited during 2009 and 2010 to complete the inventory. Volunteers will
be trained to recognize different classes of wetlands. Wetlands which need a field verification will be located close to a road to minimize access issues. A sheet with a map to the site and an aerial photo will be provided on which the type of wetland or its conversion to agriculture, recreation or development will be indicated. Volunteers will also be asked to take and provide a digital photo of the wetland.

Volunteers interested in helping with this important wetland protection project are asked to RSVP to Terri Treacy, Sierra Club Illinois Chapter Conservation Field Staff at

Sunday, April 25

Southern Illinois WeedWatch

Volunteers Needed for the Southern Illinois WeedWatch Project

Invasive plant species can aggressively overtake or displace native species causing a drastic reduction in our native biodiversity and natural beauty. Discovering weeds before they become well-established is critical to reducing damage to ecosystem integrity, preventing the loss of habitat for rare plants and animals, and preventing costly natural resource management. WeedWatch volunteers will learn to identify, locate and map invasive species within Illinois Natural Area Inventory sites that are located in Wilderness Areas in the Shawnee National Forest.

Will you become an Illinois WeedWatch Project Volunteer?
Volunteers will be trained to:
• identify invasive plant species in southernmost Illinois.
• map their locations using Global Positioning System (GPS).
• record data online into a web-based database.
Volunteers will:
• deepen their understanding of the natural world.
• play an important role in the protection of the unique resources in southernmost Illinois.
• aid land managers to effectively slow the spread of harmful invasive species.
• contribute to the comprehensive regional database of non-native invasive species locations.
Volunteers will agree to:
• attend 2-hour plant ID training on May 5 from 6 to 8 pm at Giant City State Park.
• work in at least one target Natural Area over the summer.
• have fun!

Attention Students!! Earn Saluki Volunteer Corps hours!!

Interested, but can’t make the May 5 date? No problem, contact Terri to discuss other options.

Contact Terri Treacy at 618-521-1030 or by April 30.

Tuesday, April 20

Max Creek Trail

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature Max Creek trail. Directions: From Marion,IL, take I-24 to Tunnel Hill exit and follow the road thru Tunnel Hill to US 45. Turn right on 45 and drive a few miles and look for Taylor Ridge Rd (just past a church). Turn left and follow about 3 miles to its end and River to River trail head. There is enough room to park a horse trailer. The last mile of this road leaves something to be desired-avoid it if there has been frequent rains or else have a high clearance vehicle. There is confusion here as the R-R trail has been re-routed but blue blazes on the trees go both north and east. Follow east with the Forest Service number 1737-the R-R hikers use this one anyway. I have not explored the north segment yet. I understand it to be shorter, more scenic, but has 3 creek crossings.

Trail 1737 is an old roadbed thru pine plantations and many downfalls are over the trail. After 40 minutes, we arrive at the top of a bluff line and turn right, switch-backing downhill to the creek. This is a pretty and deep canyon with a long cliff line on both sides. Cross the creek. If you want to see a 60 ft waterfall, go right and bushwhack past 2 large free-standing boulders and head for the base of the cliffs. There was only a thin stream over the cliff on Feb. 15. Back at the creek crossing, a significant number of people have experienced a vortex; manifestations include external air pressure within or against your body, optical illusions, and earth tremors. Turn left at the creek, and follow the R-R trail uphill and travel thru the woods until it ends on a blacktop road. You could make a car shuttle out of this hike. park either on the side of the road, or go uphill to a spot near a chain link fence. GPS coordinates here are 37 29' 39"N and 88 47' 31"W. If you parked here, just go left and drive 1.5 miles to the Tunnel Hill-Simpson blacktop. Turn left, and go approx 3 miles to its junction with US 45.

To clarify the approach from the east end of the hike, cite the junction at Rt 45 and Tunnel hill rd. Go straight ahead (south) as it becomes Gilead Church Rd. Go approx 3 miles to a settlement and a right on Hilltop Lane. Take this 1.5 miles, following the R-R signs. The trail head is obvious. Signage on the trail is good. At one point on the trail, look for four posts and turn left. later we cross 2 narrow stream beds and cascades. Soon we are ready to descend to Max Creek. This means a left turn at the sign. Pay attention as another unnamed trail continues straight ahead. On 3-23-10, the waterfall was dry but the creek was a deep, wide stream. While in this area, why not go the Cedar Wonders North trail-scroll this blog index for info. If you have been following this blogsite, Max Creek is the last link to complete the River to River Trail from Peter Cave junction near Eddyville to Dutchman Lake. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or For more photos, visit and search for Max Creek.

Monday, March 29

Iron Mountain Trail

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature Iron Mountain trail in Shawnee National forest. This trail was described in the Sierra newsletter Sept, 2006 but did not get posted to the website or lost. Here it is again.
Directions: from Alto Pass, IL, continue south on rt 127 and turn left onto Mt Glen rd (sign for Walnut Grove church). Proceed a couple miles to turn right on Kaolin Road. Follow this to a right turn on kaolin Pit lane. Follow to next right turn and parking lot.
Note the large pond surrounded by ravines. This used to be a mining area for kaolin clay and a company town. After the resource was depleted, it was turned into a fishing pond. Books show a loop trail starting with the overlook near the parking lot. As of this date in January, 2010, that trail segment fizzles out after a quarter mile. The Forest Service plans to reconstruct it this spring. Instead, backtrack east down the road to the white cross and commence this trail segment to the top of the 700 ft mountain. Most of this is a gradual climb and while there are no FS trail signs, the tread seems clear. Note the 1889 ornamental grave stone along the climb. As we ascend, note the deep ravines on both sides of the trail. Near the top, the trail is steep for 100 ft. Now we reach a "T" junction with a north-south trail. Go left (mark this junction so you can find it on the way back). Enjoy the ridgetop views over surrounding valleys and six wildlife pond pits as you travel.
Come to a junction. Turning right brings us to a boundary with Myers Ranch farm -"welcome to pass thru, not responsible for accidents." Note the picnic table in the middle of the trail. Come back to the junction and turn left for more views. Another side trail noted with a sign for Myers horse loop. Pass by an old house foundation from the 1930s. Eventually the trail starts descending into thick woods. I retraced the route back to the car and estimate 1.4 miles from the parking lot to the summit. Another road access to the summit trail is off rt 127. Instead of turning onto Mt Glen Rd, continue past the bridge to an unmarked left turn onto a steep gravel road (FS 606). It is no longer maintained and often deeply rutted. You may need a high clearance vehicle for this. GPS coordinates are N 37.516161 and W 89.311754. More information from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or 10/01/11: the loop is more clear now.hiking past the picnic tables,going up the hill,the trail is headed north. Along the way,look carefully for a left turn where you follow to the top.this used to be blocked by vegetation. Miss this turn and you will continue straight on and will fizzle out.

Thursday, February 25

Hitching Post Trailhead

Continuing with our monthly series,"Adventures With Uncle Bob-guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature the River to River trail section (trail 001) between Herod, IL and Garden of the Gods. This description will start near Herod, although you can embark either way. Directions: From Harrisburg, take Rt 145 south to Rt 34 and follow to Herod. Near the post office turn left onto the blacktop and travel uphill approx 1.5 miles to the well-maintained Hitching Post parking lot (on the left). It is not signed from the road so watch closely. There is plenty of room for horse trailers. Cross the road and commence the hike. This stretch of Shawnee National forest wilderness area is 5.8 miles.

The trail starts out as a FS fire lane and soon becomes a backbone trail with deep ravines on both sides. We come to a junction with #00lE. Go straight ahead or else you will be going in a circle. Later we find ourselves along a beautiful two-layered cliff line. After that, the trail gets more rugged as it ascends via switchbacks. We finally level out on a steep ridgetop and the trail thru the woods is clearly defined. Be on the lookout for at least four places where one can step off the trail onto rock glades for unimpeded overlooks over the valley and adjacent ridgetops. If you went no further than this point, the hike would be worthwhile. Approx GPS reading here is 37 36' 30"N and 88 24' 0"W. we have hiked about 2.5 miles at the best overlook.

We start a long descent and, at the valley floor, please note the trail junction sign. By now your sense of direction has diminished. Trail 001 points to G.O.G. and Herod. We can continue on #001 but there is a more scenic connecting trail (152A) which will eventually meet back up with #001. While trail 152A is not easy to follow during leafoff, you are rewarded with a tall cliff line on both sides of the trail in a narrow corridor. At some point we rejoin #001 and enjoy views of the cliffs below the main observation trail. Note an "H" shaped window arch about 50 ft up the cliff. As we continue on, you will note forks in the trail to either ascend to the Garden of Gods parking area or continue on to the backpacker parking lot. As of this writing on Nov 24, 2009, the trail was not muddy and suggests that views are optimal during leafoff.

If readers plan a group outing on this trail, regulations limit the group to 10 people or horses. This trail runs thru a designated wilderness area in Shawnee National Forest. For any questions, contact Bob Tyson at 618-684-5643 or You may also contact John O'Dell at 618-252-6789.

Monday, January 25

South Atwood Ridge Trail

Continuing with our monthly series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventures in Southern Illinois," we feature Atwood Ridge in Shawnee national Forest. Directions: From Jonesboro, IL, take Rt 127 south for approx 4 miles to turn right on Old Cape Plank road. Go 4 miles on this road as it gives way from farm land to forest. It becomes a canyon road thru deep ravines. This is worth the drive even without doing the trail. Look for a sign on the road which reads Trail 264A/1050E. Turn right and at a split, turn right again and start an ascent on this one lane gravel road. Note a parking lot as well as room for 3 cars opposite it (in case the lot is muddy). We will be walking on this gravel lane the whole distance.

From here the road makes a steep ascent. You can also avoid this first ascent by driving up further to some solid shoulder roadside parking just past the bushes lining the road. The road levels off here and there while continuing to ascend this mountain. Note the deep ravines on both sides as you continue to climb. There are frequent points where you can see distant ridgetops and valleys. Near the end, the road descends and then back up again to its end and space to turn around. I noted a narrow dirt trail continuing from here and without any information, walked a short distance without noting anything of significance. The Forest Service knew nothing of the latter. They indicate that this road was built to augment the logging industry and have no other plans for it.

This outing is best during leaf-off or when fall colors come out. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or While here, why not also drive over to Hamburg Hill Trail on Plank road. Information is on this blog as well as the website: