Saturday, October 13

One Horse Gap Trails

Continuing with our series,"adventures with Uncle Bob-Guide to self-Adventure in Southern Illinois",we feature One Horse Gap trails in Shawnee National Forest. This article replaces one on an old website. Directions: From Harrisburg,Ill take Rt 145 south to rt 34 and follow to Herod,ill. Turn on Williams hill rd and then a left onto Raum Rd. Follow this gravel road several miles to Dutton Chapel Rd, turn left,and look for FS 186(Mousey Mt sign). Set your odometer as there is no signage to prominent features.
Skip this first parking lot-trails 106-174 are steeply downhill to the lake. Park roadside at either 1.6 or 1.9 and walk 15 minutes to a huge rock cedar glade.GPS N37 31' 06" and W 88 27' 35".  You are on top of interesting rock formations. The hole in the ground is the narrow chute between rock boulders,hence, the gap.  This gap is usually muddy while you walk thru it to the bottom. There,you may want to turn right and explore the slot canyons and small cave; Otherwise, turn left to walk along a pretty cliff line and shelter cave.  At some point we run into a 5 way confusing junction. If you can find #177B segment to end at a great valley overlook, do so.  At this junction, either get #001 to continue north past shelter bluffs and arrive at FS 186, or else return to the car. You can drive to 2.7 miles, park in a clearing just ahead,and access a less confusing trail to the overlook.
Driving further, veer right at a junction and park roadside at 3.9 miles. Walk less than 1/8 mile to a great overlook. We turned right onto this spectacular rim trail where #170 crossed the overlook. This ended approx 3/4 mile. We then noted that #169 switchbacked to the base of this long cliff line while paralleling #170 going in a north direction. The sign says 1 mile to trail 121. 500 ft cliff walls, 2 caves, rock formations-wow! Why is this not advertised? It ended at the junction with 170. Turn left to a parking roundabout.  The sign was missing for trails # 120 and 121. You can descend to the right for those trails.  

Just want to do #120? Continue driving to the end of this forest road 4.3 miles. Park, go right, and then left. This is steadily down hill on rocky tread along a bluff line. At the bottom, the serpentine trail goes by a different tall cliff line with each turn. Note interesting patterns in the walls and hollowed-out surfaces in the rock.  The texture looks like part limestone and chert. The trail gradually ascends to the rim. I would turn around here and head back to the car. It will be strenuous climb to the car but worth it all. Any questions or comments,contact Bob Tyson 618-684-5643 or There are several horse tieups at all points featured in the article.