Friday, August 19

Clayton Hollow Trails

Continuing with our series,"Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature Clayton Hollow Trails. I used the Shawnee National Forest green interim 2011 map for this place. Keep in mind that the map is not drawn to scale, so distances are hard to determine on each trail. Directions: From Harrisburg, go east on Rt 13 to Equality and turn south on the Garden of Gods road. Travel several miles and go left at a stop sign. After a few miles, turn onto High Knob Rd. Take this until a stop sign appears and turn left on Leamington Rd. Follow this about 6 miles to Blackridge Rd. We ascend up this road, passing residences, and after the blacktop ends, start looking for a small parking lot on the right. Trail 184 crosses the road and bisects both Thacker Hollow and Clayton hollow. Cross the road and we will make 184 a loop trail.

We are gradually descending a rim trail overlooking deep ravines. 15 minutes later, we junction with #181. Follow 181 a short distance to a junction with #183. A right turn here takes you back to Blackridge Rd. We will go left on 183 and again we view deep hollows and ravines along the way. Later we reach a confusing junction: 2 unmarked trails, another says "to #184", and the 4th says 183. We continued on 183 and note Pounds Hollow Lake below the trail. At a point where the lake is no longer visible, note an unmarked spur trail (I put pink ribbons there) that took us to a free-standing natural arch 5 minutes away. It is next to a rock glade top.

I returned to 183, continuing north, and now junction with 184. We continue north on 184 with 200-300 ft Pines, fern areas, and the trail tuns west. We hit a 3 way junction: road goes to a campground, one unmarked trail, and 184 turning south. Continue 184 back to the car along deep ravines. This loop trail took 4 hours. The Forest Service did an excellent job on graveling most of the trails. The trails are wide and not very steep. If time is short, just experience the first 15 minutes of 184 along the rim until the junction with #181. GPS coordinates for the area are 37 37' 51" N and 88 17' 12" W. Due to limited parking on Blackridge, those with horse trailers may want to park at Double M campground and use trail 187-8 to access the area. Scroll down this blog to Thacker Hollow trails for more hiking without even moving the car. More info from Bob Tyson at 684-5643 or
10/12/12: the GPS was in dispute. you may want to try N37.37.172 and W88.16.509. For anyone trying to access Blackridge road from the south end, travel on Karber Ridge Rd past Garden of Gods. The county roadsign is gone at its junction with Blackridge. while passing the sign for High Knob along Karber Ridge rd, go further east 2.3 miles and then turn on blackridge. there is a R-R trails marker at the road too.