The Ohio River At Elizabethtown. The Official beginning of the River to River trail from East to West. At one time the trail began at Battery Rock, but because of marker vandalism and the remote location as well as a high percentage of unexciting road walking, it was relocated to Elizabethtown. I have hiked the Battery Rock leg, and it is a good alternate if you can get transportation to it.
Elizabethtown is a nice small town with a couple of bed & breakfasts and restaurants. It is traditional to wet your feet in the Ohio before you get started. (Or pick up a small vial if you are a thru hiker)
The Elizabethtown to High Knob section has recently been blazed. It is marked from Elizabethtown to High knob, to one horse gap with no problem areas that I know of. All the intersections are blazed. The trail conditions are pretty decent right now. All the creeks are running but pretty low and passable. Of course one rainstorm will change it, but there should be no problem getting filterable water. I traveled this at the peak of this summers drought (raining today finally 10/10/17)
There was filterable water at every major creek, though the only one with a flow at all was the one at the top of map 2 that I have labeled Big Creek. The only other one flowing between there and Goreville was the spillway at Bay Lake.
Most likely you will have more of a problem with high water than low.
I’m going to update several photos as the trail has been rerouted in several areas over the years and doesn’t pass them any more or they have changed.
The new Elizabethtown Sign is up close to the Gazebo in front of a pavilion. You will have to walk up there if you want a photo. Otherwise, just start down there to the West of the floating Fish restaurant if you want to dip your toes.
Head up Old Elizabethtown Rd. (to the left of the park) to Watson lane. Head East. This description will be from E’town to Grand Tower Westbound, the usual direction. No reason you can’t travel from the Mississippi though.
Soon after entering the woods you will come to an unmarked trail crossing the R2R. Generally on this leg, take the most North bound route.
If you keep an eye open to the right, you will notice “Ralph Cemetery”
No telling what creatures you might see in the woods.
You will pass Whoopie Cat and Lake Tecumseh lakes. You will have to travel off trail a short way to see them. Great places to camp though. The trail comes to a T intersection. Left is Whoopie Cat Lake, Right is the R2R towards Lake Tecumseh.
Whoopie Cat Lake
Whoopie Cat Mountain on the way to the lake.
As you near the south side of Lake Tecumseh you get to another T with a wide old roadbed after following a creek downhill. Lots of trails right here, but just bear right & follow the blazes North. There is a nice big camping area here with a fire ring. You will soon come to a loop in the gravel access road to Lake Tecumseh. (for turning trailers around I think) Lake Tecumseh is only a few hundred feet up that access road to the left (West) and worth the walk. Nice cypress trees abound and another large camping area.
Following the R2R North up the gravel road, it soon turns right. The R2R leaves the road just
after the curve continuing North while the road heads West.
Be looking for it! It is down from the road and though I added another blaze, it would be easy to miss. This is the trail opening.
Just up the trail is a little creek crossing with an interesting grid pattern from the days when it was a road.
You are traveling around the point of Lake Tecumseh, though you can’t see it.
You will come to a T intersection with another road though more of a sharp Y than a T.
TURN left!! (West) It is blazed, but if you are looking down you will wander East to parts unknown! (Actually I think it eventually rejoins)
You are heading west along the upper side of Lake Tecumseh (still can’t see it). If you pay attention to the North as you walk you will see something that doesn’t look normal along a low bluff. Those aren’t exactly an odd color of leaves, they are prickly pear cactus! Might be pretty if they flower in the Spring.
You will come to a northern access to Lake Tecumseh dam, though not quite as pretty as the other access point.
You will soon turn North off the road following the R2R so keep an eye out for the turn off.
Traveling North from Lake Tecumseh the trail crosses Hogthief creek several times. The trail does takes several turns onto active roads along this section but the walk is nice.
To the West at the first road is Iron Furnace. It is only a 1/4 mile up the cross road and a nice place for a picnic and to check out the restored Civil War era furnace. Several other signs of previous inhabitants along the way.
You will reach an open area that is a quail habitat. It has grown up a lot since I first came here. Follow the road North.
You will come to some old big trees at the top of the hill. An old homestead. Follow the tire tracks around a bend and into the woods.
Some very hilly terrain ahead. I was going to name one Mt. Everest but I hear it’s already taken.
You will come up a hill and to a road access. The trail makes a sharp left turn here, and follows a level ridge for a long while. (yay)
You will cross a wide creek, which is a normal straight across crossing, Creek #2
You will come to a sharp right off the trail that goes slightly uphill. You will want to take this! I reblazed it and added trail markers down trail both direction within sight. but there was nothing there when I hiked it except for a blue ribbon. Coming southbound you would naturally turn left anyway.
My markers were still up 10/5/17 so that is still no problem.
You will come to an old growth pine woods. There is a right turn in it, but no obvious alternative to take. Almost all of the roads shown on the map are disused and overgrown.
That nice pine woods was destroyed by the Spring wind storm. A path has been cut through it though.
I don’t think ANY of the Creek Crossings on this leg are straight across. The big one is offset quite a bit to the left. Look left pretty far and you will see where it comes out the other side.
Well, you made it across the 2 deepest Creeks on the first leg. Next is the Lee Mine area.