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: