Friday, March 30

Sharp Rock Falls

Continuing with our series, "Adventures with Uncle bob-guide to self-adventure in Southern Illinois," we feature Sharp Rock Falls. This is a reprint of an article that fell off our former website. The trail to the falls is Shawnee forest property; however, the campground is private. This means no hiking here in the summer when parking is needed for paying customers. Directions: From Murphysboro, take rt 127 north to Ava Blacktop rd. follow this scenic road about 12 miles to the sign for Sharp rock falls and take this to the campground. When the road ends at the bottom, turn left, cross a concrete culvert, keep hanging to the right at junctions, and park where possible when you see the trail and the USDA signage.
This trail is probably maintained by ATV riders with ascents and descents. We are surrounded by steep pretty cliff lines in the canyon. We cross a shallow creekbed and then soon back over again. At some point we encounter a tributory creek crossing our path. Turn left and either walk up the creekbed or climb the banks to follow this canyon as it curves to the right. Now we see a cascade dropping in 3 layers-about 30 ft total. This cascade is probably seasonal, but the walk thru the canyons are worthwhile by itself. Walk back to the car. Photo courtesy by Bill Pinkston. GPS coordinates 37.8420N and -89.4882W. Any questions contact Bob Tyson 684-5643 or

Sand Cave Trail

Continuing with our series, "Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to self-adventure in Southern Illinois", we feature Sand Cave Trail. This is a reprint of an article that fell off our former website. Directions: 1. From Marion, IL, go east on rt 13 to rt 166, turn right, go thru Creal Springs to US 45. Turn right, go to Ozark, IL, turn left and follow Ozark rd about 12 miles to a junction with Cedar Grove Church rd. Turn right. Shortly after the church, look for a green county sign "Sand Cave Lane." Go straight to its end at the forest (don't block that farm lane on the left). This is Shawnee National Forest. 2. Cedar Grove Church rd is also accessible from rt 147 from the south. GPS coordinates are 37 30' 00"N and 88 38' 51"W. Walk in until you see an unmarked trail on the right. This is an easy 0.5 mile trail along a cliff line. A fork appears later, go right, and come to this huge shelter cave sandwiched into the cliff line. It appears to be 500 ft deep, 100 ft wide, and 50 ft height.
While here, why not continue walking along the pretty horseshoe-shaped cliff canyon before returning to the car. Scroll down this blog to Peter Cave and Jackson Hole as they are in this proximity and make a day of of this expedition. Any questions, contact Bob Tyson 684-5643 or
12-3-12: Forest Service map shows trail 030 loop starting at Sand Cave. Two of us decided to check it out. It took 4 hrs. Coming in from the parking lot,take a left on an unmarked trail near the natural area sign. You will meet trail 035,turn left. This will junction with trail 030 loop. A left will afford a couple nice formations;Otherwise, go right to a huge shelter cave. Looks about 400 ft long,and 40 ft deep. Continue along smaller caves and a cliff canyon. Soon it veers left with a different cliff line on each turn. Eventually we meander thru woods and isolated cliffs. 030 sign disappeared at maxwell Ford: turn right and head uphill: 030 sign reappears.After a long ascent along cliffs, we turn left for a short distance on 032 and junction with River to River trail(001). Turn  left,go straight at a later major junction,and as we get closer to Cedar Grove Church Rd, a left turn for 030 reappears. now we head north along switchbacks, reach 035, take this back to the natural area sign,and back to the car. This loop was rocky,very few mudholes,and well constructed.

Thursday, March 22

Round Bluff Nature Preserve

Continuing with our series,"Adventures With Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure in Southern Illinois", we feature the above 1.2 mile loop trail. This is a reprint since disappearing from our former website. Directions: In Goreville, go south on rt 37 to Fern Clyffe State Park. At a stop sign, go left and follow the Round Bluff sign to the parking lot. Brochure at the side of the sign board. Let's start on the right. The trail encompasses a huge Sandstone knob with constant baseline views of cliffs up to 110 ft high. We pass the state champion Winged Elm tree, a desert-like glade, a shelter bluff, four fern species, wood staircases to shorten ascents and descents, interesting rock formations, and finally finish at a picnic shelter. The signboard used to say no dogs but on this date, 2-17-12, there was no admonition. GPS coordinates are N 37.5295 and W -88.97785. Any questions, contact Bob Tyson ay 618-684-5643 or

Tuesday, March 20

Pickle Springs Loop Trail

Continuing with this series,"Adventures with Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure", we feature this Missouri Dept of Conservation trail. It is reproduced here as it disappeared from a previous website. Directions: From Chester,ill cross the bridge and go about 5 miles to county H, and follow this until it ends at St Mary. Turn left, and go to county Z. Follow to I-55 and go north to Rt 32. Follow this approx 15 miles and you see the brown conservation area sign. Turn left and follow to the parking lot. Alternatively, for a scenic view,get off I-55 at Ozora exit, take N to P, then north on B to rt 32. This will take you over scenic ridgetops and the winery in the cave.

Coming out of the parking lot, we have a 2 mile loop junction: let's go left. Soon we come to a unique cliff area with a double buttress arches, the keyhole, and the slot. Our arches picture has been moved to click GIS for any state). The trail is up and down but not steep. We encounter waterfalls, rock shelters, and strange rock formations. Near the end, we are up on high rock cedar glade overlooking the valley and back to the parking lot. GPS coordinatesare N 37.7959 and W -90.2668. Make a day out of this outing by visiting nearby Hickory Canyon Conservation area and Hawn State Park. The winery requires that visitors buy one bottle of wine for every 5 people in a group in order to enter the cave( lighted and tables). More info from Bob Tyson at 618-684-5643 or