I no longer check email here on the website! I get around 200+ spams a day and it isn’t feasible to check it. Post any questions & comments on the facebook page “river to river trail”. https://www.facebook.com/River-to-River-trail-421559318031592/
I Helped with the Shawnee Trail Conservancy packing gravel at Indian Kitchen today. Got good news and bad news. The good news is, THE ACCESS ROAD TO MILLSTONE LAKE IS REPAIRED!!!! I drove up there and parked with my 2wd Ranger PU, no problem! (Its still a little rough, but it’s new gravel to the top) Tell a friend! 😃 The bad news, the Shawnee Lounge in Eddyville is Closed! Waaaah! 😳 I hiked from there up trail 49 (They are all 49?) to Jackson Falls and back.
Was told it was short, so I took a side trail to the head of the lake. It wasn’t short, and got back to the truck after dark. Some photos later. 12/3/18
Don Wall and I arrived at 9.50 am at the backpackers parking lot at Garden of the Gods in plenty of time for next Saturdays hike at 10:am. (oops)
So we were on the east side again, and close to Panther hollow again, so we went over there to explore the interesting on the map topology across Buckhart Hollow.
We headed out around the base of the bluff on the road, then bushwhacked North East to the creek. crossed the creek and followed an old roadbed to a place where the bluff to the North was low and a creek flowed through it. Then we headed up the valley on that side, flowing from the direction of the Ohio. (sounds wrong, but it was rising, not falling) it widened out and didn’t look very bluffy any more, so we crossed and returned along some pretty impressive bluffs around the curve left back into Buckhart Hollow, and went up it and crossed over to the cave and back around Panther hollow again. Very nice day for hiking. Lots of hunters out today, but we didn’t see a sign of anyone where we went. (after the HUGE hunter camp at the start of the forest road. Didn’t know they made tarps that big outside of the circus) I’m going to make an actual page on the Buckhart/ Panther Hollow area soon as I check out one last place. Maybe before. 10/17/18
You will notice a lot of changes this week. I’m going to go through this site and update a lot of stuff that’s been out of date for a long time, and add Cove Hollow and a new trip to saltpeter cave/ natural bridge. soon. I’ve updated the theme to one more friendly to navigate I hope. 10/28/18
The River to River Trail Society has published its new online trail guide, and it has all the maps info. and history you could ever want. This was the result of a lot of hard work over time and the cooperation of a lot of people. Check it out: https://www.rivertorivertrail.net/home/trail-information/ 11/6/18
Nissan Key Fob found today 10/30 at Saltpeter Cave. These are very expensive. Spread it around, lets try and help a fellow hiker/rider. Contact me at rivertorivertrail facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/River-to-River-trail-421559318031592/
Don Wall and I went to Cove Hollow and Saltpeter cave/Natural Bridge today and took a bunch of photos at peak color. His came out a lot better, so here are the best of literally hundreds.
I returned to “Fist of God” (description and map on sidebar >) with friends yesterday to see it at peak leaf color, and also went to see “Ghost Dance Canyon” at Dixon Springs state park nearby. (Access the trail behind the swimming pool) leaves are at peak now. 10/28/18
I returned with Don Wall and explored more of Panther Hollow today. No trails. Some photos. New page soon. 10/24/18
I mowed and cleared the Makanda to Rt.51 and Alto Pass waterworks to the woods areas again. That should hold them until late Spring. They were sorely needing cleared, though the landowner had mowed the fields at Sheppards lane. (yay!) 10/12/18
ATTENTION! The maps included in this site are from the Forest Service page with some details added by me. FEEL FREE TO DOWNLOAD & PRINT THEM! You might have to save them to a file on your computer and print from there.
If you need transportation, or a guided tour of a place in the Shawnee, Bart Lane is your guy. https://www.facebook.com/shawneehikingtour
TIME TO WEAR ORANGE AGAIN!
Oct. 1-Jan. 20
Nov. 29-30, Dec. 1-2, and Dec. 7-9
Nov. 16-18, Nov. 29-30, and Dec. 1-2
Youth Firearms Hunt (Inexperienced people shooting guns with adult witnesses) 😨
I made a trip to Panther Hollow RNA, above Lamb on the Finneyville road yesterday. I hiked the top to the point from the end of the forest road, which was uneventful, then went back down to the place where you had to pass under a fallen tree and found another abandoned road around to the base of the bluffs. Great bluffs, and a huge cave at the bottom of the waterfall area at the head of Panther Hollow. This was only a small area of the total, there is the other side of Panther Hollow and the bigger Hollow to the NW on FS property. I’ll wait for leaf off and mosquito relief to go back. 9/29/18.
Some Pics. I will make a page for this later with more info. Ask any questions at the facebook page Rivertorivertrail.
No trails or signs of recent activity, though there were more deer tracks than I have ever seen and I did see a river otter walking up the creek bed at the head.
This is a research natural area, and only hikers allowed. There are no trails there at all. Bushwhacking along the bluff and a compass would help. 9/29
I was in the area and checked the trail at Alto Pass and Makanda. The Giant Horse weeds have been blown down at Alto Pass and the trail is sorely in need of clearing again at Makanda to Rt 51. I’ll try and get back down there for the final mowing and clearing this week or next. 9/25/18
The River to River trail Society has announced their Fall hike schedule. All their hikes are awesome and free. Highly recommend!
River-to-River Trail Society Announces Fall, 2018 Hiking Schedule
Press contact: Gillum Ferguson, Secretary, (630) 470-7692
The River-to-River Trail Society announces its schedule of free guided hikes in and about the Shawnee National Forest for Fall, 2018. All hikes are open to the public free of charge. No reservations are required, except for the October 27 hike in Garden of the Gods Wilderness, for which pre-registration is required in order to permit compliance with the rules of the Forest Service. These hikes are of at least moderate difficulty, and are intended for people in good health who have done some hiking. On November 10, two hikes will be offered, a more challenging one on the Crest Trail and a less strenuous
one at Giant City State Park. Boots or sturdy shoes and a walking stick are recommended for all hikes. Hikers should bring their own water and a snack. No dogs, please.
Hike: Cove Hollow (“The Promised Land”). Trail 001T (Pope County)
Leader: Mart Watson
Meet: East Trigg Trailhead, Trigg Tower Road, one mile north of Trigg Tower and three miles northeast of Simpson, Illinois.
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Hike: Dutchman Lake (Johnson County)
Leader: Jim Todd
Meet: Shawnee NF Ranger Station, 602 North First Street, (Route 45), Vienna, Illinois
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Hike: North Benham Ridge and beyond (Pope County)
Leader: Bill Gilmour
Meet: Herod Post Office, Route 34, Herod, Illinois
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Hike: Garden of Gods Wilderness and Indian Point (Saline County)
Leaders: Brian DeNeal and Fred Scott
Meet: By advance reservation only. To register call (630) 470-7692
Hike: Trails 385 & 378, west side of Cedar Lake (Jackson County)
Leaders: Don Monty and Anne Gaylord
Meet: Parking lot at east end of Boat Ramp Road, off Route 127, east of Pomona, Illinois
Time: 10:30 a.m.
10: (Two hikes)
Hike: Crest Trail (Saline County)
Leader: Brian DeNeal
Meet: Tecumseh Statue, Saline County State Fish and Wildlife Area (Glen Jones Lake)
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Hike: Giant City State Park (Jackson and Union Counties)
Leader: Ernie Brasher and Jennifer Randolph
Meet: Visitor’s Center, Giant City State Park
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Hike: Rice Hollow (Gallatin County)
Leaders: Gillum Ferguson and Vicki Ferguson
Meet: Backpackers Parking Lot, Garden of the Gods Recreation Area
Time: 10:00 a.m.
The River-to-River Trail Society is an Illinois not-for-profit corporation founded during the 1990s by John O’Dell to promote completion of the River-to-River Trail, which now runs 157 miles through the Shawnee National Forest between Elizabethtown on the Ohio River and Grand Tower on the Mississippi River. The Society engages in trail maintenance and advocacy, and it offers free guided hikes to members and the public during the spring and fall hiking seasons.
The new 5 page Battery Rock leg is available here from the FS. https://www.cloudvault.usda.gov/index.php/s/1OZ5Xhgbda3EUo9?path=%2FBatteryRockR2RTrail
I will be adding features soon and reposting them. Here they are as PDF files
UPDATE! The map 3 above and 1 are the same. The website is down and says modified 8 hours ago. I’ll wait and see what happens. I have 1,2,4,5 saved as Jpeg. 9/18
I took out 3 tiny band ads (top, middle, bottom of the pages) with Google Ad sense this year. It looks like it will pay for the cost of web hosting. So this website will be here until I’m gone most likely.
It’s getting cooler and I should be back out there a lot more in the coming weeks as the grass slows down and I get more time.
I went with hiking companion Don to check out the Pine Hills road. Unfortunately we started at the South gate which is about 2.5 or 3 miles from the North gate blocking access at Godwin Trailhead West. The actual biggest washout was about 200 yards from the North gate, and we had to walk all the way back exhausting our time enough to scratch hiking the spur road to Hutchins Creek and going North across the R2R intersection and continuing North to Odies Place. (old homestead place) No, the washout wasn’t what we thought. The FS seems to still be using the road judging from the tire tracks, but one hiker said a ranger told him it wasn’t safe to pass in places and the road is closed indefinitely.
Instead we headed over to Rt 45 and Taylor ridge road Trailhead where I took Don straight West along the old R2R to Max Creek there and the cave. Now I have a person in the photo for scale. (9/14/18)
^ This is where the South Gate is on Pine Hills Road at the one picnic area on the right with the restroom. The only view you can drive to. The rest of the pull outs along the closed road are not being maintained.
The views are there still, though the areas aren’t mowed. The best one is an easy walk from the Godwin West gate(north gate), so don’t let the road closed gate keep you from walking there. Just come from Route 3 up the levee road.
If you are around Goddards Crossing area of Rt 45, consider the old route at least to the cave. Continue on along the old trail along it if you like it. The first part heading West from the trailhead is sloppy mud, but it gets a lot better eventually, and the one creek crossing on Taylor ridge road is due for some maintenance and is rough.
Illinois Ozark Fall tour. Sounds interesting.
I Just edited map 2 to note that North of the Quail habitat, you need to go through the gate into the field to the East and follow the tire tracks into the woods to the North. More than one person has gone West and never heard from again.
Important check to see if you are reading all the information posted in these notices. 8/19/18
The new map #5 of the Garden of the Gods area has been updated on my site to show the new R2R route through the back packers parking lot. (Previously 108i) No more 1/4 mile to the River to River trail, you park at it. 8/18/18
Some photos from todays trip over to High Knob and the trail around the base. A little too much poison Ivy to do it with shorts, but I danced around the Ivy with shorts just the same. Pretty hilly, but well worth the short hike. You go in just down the road from the top parking area to the West side just about the first turn. There is a sign, followed shortly by some CCC steps. some awesome views down there. It’s great after leaf off when the Ivy is gone.
The trail around the base of High Knob comes out right behind that tree stump. It’s a pretty steep climb at the end but you wanted to see from hills, so you really have no choice about walking a hill. You are tough though right? There are 3 or 4 sets of CCC steps along the way. It should have more signage, but you wanted to be away from the masses anyway. I’ll post them all on a new page soon. 8/17/18
Oh boy! OLD maps! I just bought some ranger maps off ebay of the West end from Giant City to the Mississippi, off road maps from 1979, and of the Cobden and Karbers ridge sections from 1976, plus a topo map from about that time. I have been looking for an old map to show the R2R from back when, and it IS on the section maps, not sure about the off road map yet, just opened the package. Expect a new map page of historic Shawnee. 8/13/18
For anybody looking for opportunities to volunteer with in the Shawnee National Forest, The Shawnee Trail Conservancy, The Forest Service and the Society are doing some rock hauling for the River to River Trail in Garden of the Gods Wilderness. The details are as follows:
Friday August 17, 2018, meet at 8:30 AM at Backpackers Parking lot. Work will be on trail 108i which will be converted to the R2R trail when work is complete.
Saturday August 18, 2018, meet at 8:30 AM at the Hitching Post parking lot east of Herod. Work will continue on placing rock in washouts along the R2R trail.
The work involves filling buckets with gravel so that those buckets can be dumped into the pack horses packing gear. Others may be dumping the packed gravel and leveling it at the other end. Shovels, pails and other tools are normally provided. Bring gloves, lunch, bug spray and other gear as you feel appropriate. The work time usually goes about 4 hours but may be more or less depending on the team working.
Thanks for supporting the Shawnee National Forest and the River to River Trail.
I’ll probably be there on Friday the 17th depending on weather, and do a little hiking afterwards.
MOWED TODAY!!! 7/30/18
Paula and I spent the day at Alto Pass and Makanda where I finally got the mowing done.( Makanda to 51, and Waterworks Road back to the far woods.) Some of the Horse weeds at Alto Pass Water Works section were 10 ft. tall by yardstick! Some of the grass at Rt 51 crossing at Makanda was over 6ft. sorry, but it’s cleared again now.
Alto Pass Waterworks bottom has passion flower vines again! I counted at least 7 blooms on different plants along where I cleared. They had a lot more about to open. They have a nice scent too. They are supposed to have an edible fruit too in case someone wants to see one later on. They are growing in the bottoms right off the road so if anyone is in the area, go check them out😊!
^ I got this cleared except for the large log. (obscured in the photo by grass) Next time I’ll have a sharp chain on the chainsaw.
I haven’t been down there for awhile. We went on a 9 day vacation to NC and the highland Games, and did some hiking, then 3 days in Gatlinburg. Got home and had to get busy on the churches Shuttle Bus they just bought used and get it presentable for next Sunday so the congregation can see what their donations bought. To throw a wrench in the works, I had to go get 2 wisdom teeth pulled today because of a split tooth, and it’s upper mate which was peeking out a hole that couldn’t be reached and had signs of decay. Taking it easy today. May be able to get there Fri. I’m hoping. Mowing or hiking. 7/25/18
Saturday (7th July) is going to be a little cooler and I’ll try and mow the Alto Pass area again.
7/05/18 I moved the arrows on map 5 to the correct places where the fire rings are towards Herod. I had them on the ridge east of trail 152B instead of the next Ridge West.
6/21/18 I went down and put up some needed blazes (Got them from the R2R Society) 1 on the back of the sign to leave Benham Ridge Road toward Raum road at the North End. One to exit the South East end of the parking lot at the South End of Benham Ridge Road, and one showing which way to exit the clearing East Bound from the Creek between Raum Road and Benham ridge road.
The South end of Benham Ridge road isn’t labeled as such.
The new sign at Goddards Crossing provided by the IDOT.
I took a trip around the Max Creek Loop By leaving the trailhead at Taylor Ridge Road heading West, then North west heading down 437 to the current R2R trail and coming back by it. Page soon. #437 and #435 were parts of the older R2R at one time. Still blazed with blue i’s.
6/1/18 A great article on surviving a poisonous snake bite without permanent damage. Pit vipers are all we have in the Shawnee, but that’s all we need.
5/25/18 We knew Permethrin repeled ticks, here’s another study. I like to use Sawyer Pump bottle Permethrin, but there are other sources.
5/18/18 I mowed the Makanda to Rt.51 and the Alto Pass Waterworks to the woods past the two fields yesterday so that won’t be a problem for awhile. It grows in a hurry this time of year.
5/13/18 Shawnee Trail Conservancy
Notice regarding old trail to Indian Kitchen from Hayes Canyon and Bear Branch campgrounds. The trail starting at where the old bridge abutement is located is now closed. The land is private property and marked accordingly. The new trail is across the creek on the left side of the gravel road. Please do not use this trail, they also own the “boat trail” at the top of the hill and will close that one too if people continue to ride along the creek! The new trail is number 405. Please spread the word, when a trail is marked private property, no trespassing, Stay Off of it. The STC has worked hard to keep the boat trail open as it is the only connecting trail to bowed tree crossing.
You can take 145 south end of Eddyville, turn East on Rt5/Eddyville road about 1/4 mile to the trailhead. Parking on the left, trail on the right side of Indian Kitchen road, and take the pressure off of the private land.
5/4/18 I’m out West this Week. I should be back to mow the Alto Pass Waterworks and Makanda to Rt.51 areas the week after next and maybe get a photo of the washed out area of the trail towards Lirley trailhed. Check back soon. Badlands yesterday.
4/21/18 Don Wall, Paula and I went to check out “Fist of God” for the first time, and later stopped by Borks Falls. Finding directions to Fist of God is like pulling Hens Teeth (To mix metaphors) Getting there isn’t bad, it’s the finding out what to do then. There is a gravel road that looks just like a private drive, and there is no parking along it, so park off the road on the south curve of Rock Road in sight of the weird intersection with Rock City road. I’ve added a page on this hike just after the maps of the River to River trail.
I’m going to revamp all the day hike trips and order them alphabetically with maps and directions. I hope to do at least 1 every 2 weeks. We are going to “Fist of God” and possibly “Indian Kitchen” this Friday.
3/29/18 Completed the Thru Hike Yesterday! I’ll post a page on it to replace last years page. There is Right NOW a missing Blaze where 425 turns north to continue to the new route to OWL Bluff for westbound Hikers! As it is, All Westbound Hikers will continue straight because the old blue paint on the trees is still visible and they will be on an unmarked trail. We had 2 hikers ahead of me continue the old trail there and were VERY lucky to catch them at Owl Bluff. This has been forwarded to the FS, but be aware.
3/21/18 Heading down to E’town for an early start on our thru hike tomorrow morning. 5 of us right now. Here is our schedule. Might be updates daily on the facebook page. Wish us luck!
3/5/18 Spring is in the air! Time for the creepie crawlies to appear. Snake road is going to be closed to all but foot traffic March 15-May15 for the annual Snake migration. Our last day on the Thru trip starting the 22nd will be down snake road. Yay!
Anyone interested in doing a through hike of the R2R or any extended hike needs to watch this video. I watched it straight through and it’s the best I’ve seen. It shows the pain, the emotional toll and the sights and the sense of accomplishment. It is day after day of asking yourself why you are doing this when You could be doing something else. Cold nights, stinky clothes and weird noises in the dark.
Missing trail markers, mud, stickers and miles of roadwalking mixed with awe of beauty you never would have seen and a feeling of nature you don’t get from daytrips. Watch it.
2/15/18 River to River Trail Society 2018 Spring hiking schedule. They are all free, come dressed for a 4-6 mile hike, bring water and lunch, no dogs.
2/8/18 Took a hike today from Twinz Lane to Dutchmans lake. A PATH HAS BEEN CUT THROUGH THE PINE WOODS WIND DAMAGE!!! YAY! Thank you forest service!!! Kind of returned the favor with a lot less effort by cleaning up the 49 cans and piece of metal and burnt chair the slobs left in the mowed field at the West end of the Dam. Brought them home. The Spillway rocks I had no way to transport and dumped them in the weeds at the edge of the field. Happy Hiking!
2/2/18 An interesting map showing some hikes in the Southern IL area I haven’t heard of. It’s semi accurate and had only a very brief description. Time to google some names. I added this to the helpful links page.
(1/28/18) Just aged the new maps in PDF files at the bottom of the new map page in case someone needs them
(I1/17/18) I just added water source, camp site suggestions and food/supply sites to all the new trail maps.
(1/17/18) I don’t do politics, but this may affect National Parks in general. I’d consider getting a lifetime pass if you qualify. (It went up about 50% last year if I remember right) Who knows how this will all shake out, but the pass gets you in any of the national Parks plus up to 3 others in your car for life. They COULD eliminate them or raise the fee as a profit generating idea, and we know they are considering raising fees for all National Parks. (IL has no National Parks, the Shawnee is a National Forest) Sounds like trouble at the top. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has refused to meet with the advisory board although it is required by law twice a year.
12/27/17 Greg Nemo published a photo of the new trail signs at the Junction with the old Battery Rock leg. The Old leg is now officially the 001E spur. As far as I know it will continue to be marked with the blue I but not using the new 2 piece plastic trail blazes. Expect to see more of my curvy i’s on the old leg soon.
12/22/17 A thru hike planned Thursday March 22-31. Anyone welcome to join all or part, but you will be responsible for any transportation on your part. Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/R2RAdventure2018/
I am going to try out some new waterproof socks as soon as they arrive. Crosspoint waterproof socks, supposed to be the best breathing and anti bacterial stuff so you don’t walk in stinky socks for 10 days. I’ll post my experiences with them.
My blister turned out to have a twin next to it that I didn’t notice for 18 days. Yes, it hurt but I thought it was just the big one being raw or something. It turned septic and spread to my knee which was swollen and red. It took a month of IV antibiotics and regular pills and tests before it was through. It infected the bursa but not the joint itself and its now 100%. I still haven’t made it back down there but am planning on taking a day next week and doing some marking & clearing from RT3 to Battery Rock on the old section.
I’ve also added a couple narrow ads on the pages to help pay for this site. I hope they aren’t too distracting. If anyone has any problems downloading or any other problem with them comment here or on the rivertorivertrail facebook page. I’m not totally sure about them, but it would be nice to not have that bill every November. They are supposed to get more focused on what people are interested in that come to the site automatically. Hopefully it will go from home loans toward more camping and hiking oriented ads.
10/10/17 Finally have some time to update the maps & descriptions from what I learned on my half a thru hike that ended at Goreville. The straw that broke the camels back was a big blister and some other back home issues not the least of was that my wife was worried about me traveling solo. My foot was a lot better the next morning, and I could have continued, but I had already traveled the sections with reroutes I wanted to see, and I’ve traveled most of the West half recently.
10/6/17 Had to suspend my thru trip because of a big unbearable blister today at Goreville. Lots of info. firsthand. Don’t try and go around the woods West of Dutchmans lake!!! Follow the blue ribbons through the East side of the Damage! I didn’t realize there is a trail there on the west side already that starts along the side then eventually turns down to the lake!
9/25/17 Started updating my website with the new maps and getting rid of some old clutter. It will take awhile. I’m heading east to west, updated to One Horse Gap.
9/20/17 New Maps are out! See the “New Maps!!!” Page. New Blazes going up as well as new Signage at the ends. And a through Hike attempt coming up OCT 1 with perfect weather forecast! What a great time to be in So. IL!
9/17/17 Moving my thru hike attempt to Sunday the 1st of October. Should take about 10 days unless I drop out or the weather is bad, it a roll of the dice but no matter the outcome, its time in the woods.
9/17/17 The first new sign is up at Grand Tower! The others will be up soon! Thanks for your hard work!
9/17/17 R2R work days! Volunteers needed! Give some back! Contact # Sue Perina 618-252-0077
Contact Sue Perina
9/13/17 NEW SIGNS GOING UP!! As part of the grant to improve signage on the R2R, New big signs are going up very soon, and there is a crew that is going to reblaze Godwin trail Sunday with the new 2 piece plastic trail markers.
|Etown||Grand Tower||Garden of the Gods||Goddard Crossing||Giant City SP||Alto Pass|
|4′ x 6′ =||4′ x 6′ =||2’6″ x 4′||4′ x 6′ =||2’6″ x 4′||2’6″ x 4′|
What this means is that finally there will be a marker at both Rivers! The one at Goddard Crossing will be a big help. No idea where the Alto Pass or Giant City signs will be placed, but we need the exposure! The Grand Tower one will be up in the next week. If those 2 thru hikers I’m aware of currently on the trail make it, they might be the first to get to an official ending point on a through hike.
9/1/17 I mowed Alto Pass Water works to the far woods and Makanda to RT51 again yesterday. Good to go for Labor day!
Later 8/8/17 Eclipse watchers Warning!!!!
ECLIPSE WARNING!!! STAY AWAY from the WATER!!! The temperature will drop as much as 20 degrees right before totality and mist will rise. You will be stuck looking at FOG!
Well, it’s official. The good news is that the whole trail from E’Town to Grand Tower is going to be reblazed with the new 2 piece blue I diamond starting in September. There are going to be various groups reblazing with coordination to keep from missing spots or overlapping. I have no idea how long it will take. The question was whether they were replacing rotten faded markers only and leaving the decent blazes. The answer was, that to keep people from thinking they were on …an old section because of old markers, they are going to take all the old blazes down. (no more curvy i’s from me) They are rerouting in a few more areas than just Owl’s Bluff and One Horse gap. It LOOKS like they are bypassing the deep water crossing downstream of the spillway at Bay Lake/ Millstone Lake creek and routing the trail up over the dam where you will get to see the lake, then back down to cross the creek on current trail 049 just before the climb up to the ‘whistle’ under the RR tracks. Also looks like they are taking the newer high trail around Cedar Lake. I don’t know if they are taking my route through the woods around the grown up fields North of the Water Works at Alto pass or not. Can’t tell by the map.
I looked over the new map drafts the FS is coming out with and they will be a lot better than what they have now.
Don’t fret about the curvy i’s. The FS is mostly abandoning the old “historic” route to Battery Rock and they said volunteers will have to mark it. I volunteer! They will have about 300 of my curvy i’s to pull down on the main trail. That would be great to have those back, but they were only about .25 to make each.
7/16/17 Here is the official announcement! River to River trail to get new markers with major effort. Still not sure if they are leaving the decent ones or replacing them all. No word on trail maintenance, exactly what & where, but it’s extremely welcome news!
7/15/17 I cleared the Makanda to route 51 leg again yesterday and reblazed the stop sign at Makanda road. (I wish people would stop hitting the sign, it had been replaced again)
The Alto Pass waterworks area is cleared again and I mowed a path from the waterworks across the low spot, up over the hill, across the creek, and then up the field to the oak tree, across the little creek and the rest of the way to the woods. I don’t know how long it will last, but it got the deluxe clearing job.
Lifetime senior National Park Passes are going up from $10 to $80 August 1. You have to be 62 before August 1 to take advantage. I was late, I’ll be 62 in September ! I’ll still buy one then.
You can buy them online but there is a $10 handling fee doubling the price and a LONG wait because of the increased demand. There is a list of nearby places you can pick them up in person and save the fee and $10.
With the pass, you can get 3 adults in with you and also get reduce…d rates on some of the park services.
If you are a young whipper snapper with an OLD decrepit Mother, Father, Grand Parent or acquaintance you can drag to the park with you, buy them this pass and make them take you with them!
It isn’t transferable and it can’t be replaced if lost or stolen, but can if it is damaged but readable.
Here is the list of places to buy them.
Third times a charm. I kicked the new Owl Bluff routes butt today and followed it all the way to the east until I found the first old blaze to make sure the whole route was covered.
I put trail markers at all the intersections and a couple mid leg on both sides of the old trail intersection and a pair mid forest road 425. There were NO markers at the old trail split East of Owl Bluff tie up, so there was no way for anyone to know which way to go period. Like wise at the old trail intersection East of Owl Bluff tie up (as opposed to the trail split) and nothing whatsoever again at the new trail intersection with Forest road/trail 425.
It angles sharply North when it meets 425 and unless you have this map which no one else does, you don’t know without a trail marker not to go north at 425.
The wilderness area between the Lusk Creek Trailhead and it’s Eastern Border where the old trail splits off is well marked with their engraved wood unpainted blazes. (That’s where I started.) They are fine until they weather to the same shade as the bark. Here is hoping that takes a bunch of years. Right now they are fine.
Speaking of meeting though, I met a couple snakes today on the trail. One of the common to me on the trail, harmless and cool looking blue racer kinking his body warming up in the sun. I perked up at the arrow head and rattle tail of the second guy. A timber rattlesnake, which I’m happy to say I’ve never seen before. He laid calm for his long distance zoom photos, but when I tried to pass him by he curled up and rattled.
I didn’t try and provoke him to strike, I feel that’s for kids. Leave them alone, it’s their home. The blue racer never budged. I used to have a blue racer as a pet when I was about 14. Let him go when school started. He got tame in about an hour of calm holding. So I have an affection for those particular snakes.
Take nothing but photos, leave the animals to their own agendas are my feelings now.
Big change coming soon as I can update it. New Forest Service maps to replace the current ones. Bill Gilmore from the River to River trail was kind enough to share. Right now they are just a draft with the final version to come. They will be posted on the Shawnee National Forest site when they are finalized. I don’t know yet if the Battery Rock leg will be updated. I will post them to my website when they at done. I’ll also post a link to the new River to River Trail society guide book when it becomes available to purchase. It is eagerly awaited! It’s possible the maps show reroutes not yet made. This is the draft of page 1. I have them all, but like I said, they are not finished. Oh boy!BTW most of the side trails are labeled!!!
6/1/17 Trail reroute between Herod and One Horse Gap!!!!!! Be aware! I haven’t been there yrt, but it may be tricky. The new route is along an established trail along a ravine, I may have been there and it was a decent trail at the time.
I cleared the Alto Pass waterworks area from the Waterworks road to where it crosses the creek after the big hill. This area gets grown up until it is almost impossible to get through- it was over my head when I mowed it last year. I use a walk behind string brush trimmer.
It was shoulder high in places, but not nearly as bad as last years. I’ll try and get this and the Makanda area again in a month or so. It’s an hour & 20 minute drive, and I just don’t have the time to hit it more often. (and not enough energy to do them both the same day.) Todays was only about an hour and a half. My wife came with me, did some paperwork in the Honda Then lunch at Makanda, a check on the trail there, then a nice hike at Cove hollow trail at Cedar Lake. Then headed home as we had to be ready to drive a church bus at 6.
A couple of weeks ago I cleared the Makanda to Route 51 again, and sawed the limbs off the big downed oak tree just West of town on Old Eastern Star tr. that you can now walk past it without going under it.
- It was such a nice day Sunday afternoon, we took a trip down to Dutchman Lake and walked the short hike ( less than a mile) to the pine woods which needed some new blazes, then went to Ferne Clyffe to see the waterfall in the afternoon sun. The dam hasn’t been mowed yet, but maybe thanks to the deep wood off, we didn’t see any ticks or chiggers. They will mow it, maybe they are waiting to make hay. The couple of creeks along the way at both areas were just trickling. A very nice day. I plan to go mow the Makanda to RT 51 trail later this week.
2/23/17 This Springs volunteer schedule. Looks like Panthers Den area this year. I helped at GOG last Spring. Feels good to give something back.
2/23/17 I’m planning on attempting a thru Hike Mid March starting on a Saturday depending on the weather. Not sure how far I will actually get, but you never know,. Starting at E’town if it hasn’t rained hard the week before, Battery Rock if it has. If feet back & stomach all cooperate, I may make it. I’m ready mentally. It will probably be my only attempt. I will just continue some other time from my departure point if I can’t make it. Should make interesting reading either way.
11/3/16 Updated maps 3,4,5,6 Long overdue.
I traveled Pine Hills to Giant City 10/24-25. Updates forthcoming. The trail was decent, foliage still way before peak color but leaves building up on ground. Map 17 & 18 updated with trail reroutes.
Big tree down across trail Just West of the strip in Makanda on Eastern Star Road. Update when it is cleared but you should avoid going under it, very dangerous.
10/21/16 River to River shuttle service. New service starting up with people who have been avid hiker supporters for years. They will pick you up at your car and drive you to your starting point for gas money! Give them a call!
T shirts are here. If you would like one. message me to confirm I have your size and to get your shipping address. Cost for these short sleeved shirts is $10 plus $4 shipping. This is my actual cost. Any special ordered ones after these run out will be $2 each higher since the batch I have were eligible for an over 20 ordered discount. there is also a page here on these with more details.
9/25/16 I spent the last week Hiking the trail from Bethesda Church a couple miles West of One Horse Gap, to Dutchman Lake blazing as I went, then skipped over to Wayside road a couple miles East of Panthers Den and did some blazing and checking conditions to Giant City Campground. Details on their pages, but for the most part the trail was decent excluding the late summer weeds.
Didn’t see a tick, the mosquitos were pretty thick around Millstone lake and spots else where. The streams are barely trickling, we need some rain to get them flowing again. It’s been pretty unseasonably hot this week but supposed to turn a lot cooler. There were a lot of intersections and crossings than needed blazing. I ended up putting 140 up, which the trail sucks up like a sponge.
That first section off the old roadbed West of rocky Comfort road is blazed now where it turns South, and where it joins the old road west again but I didn’t have many left by then, so none on the actual leg. I didn’t see any at either connection. There also were none evident where the trail actually crosses lusk creek. there are now but I may hear some flack over them in that area if the rangers ever walk it since they like their invisible brown blazes in that wilderness.
9/16/16 Hitting the trail Next Monday at Bethesda Church East to Ferne Clyffe (knock on wood) to scout out the trail for our October 5 day hike. I’ll take a couple extra blazes for places some might be missing. Updates as they occur next week.
I MAY be taking a 5 day hike about a month before our scheduled 5 day hike from Bethesda Church (couple miles West of One Horse Gap) to approximately Gum Springs, possibly Ferne Clyffe.. Details soon.
8/9/16 I got the Alto Pass Water works area to where it connects to water works road cleared and blazed where needed, also cleared Makanda to Rt 51 again.Check out photos on Trail conditions page.
8/4/16 Cooler weather will be just around the corner. About 5 weeks from now begins the prime hiking time of the year when the bugs start to die off and the poison Ivy starts to wither. I have some ambitious trail clearing plans after leaf off. I’d like to get the Camp Cadiz to Battery Rock leg reblazed and cleared where it seems to have fallen through the maintenance cracks if only for next year. We will see.
I started a new page for current conditions. Things change over the months and years since I have traveled them. If people hiking could drop me a line on bad places, I can do what I can or inform the Federal or State park services and get something done. Let’s keep this gift we have going. We don’t want to lose it.
8/1/16 Whoo Hoo! made #7
“Even if you don’t have the time to hike the entire 6,800-mile American Discovery Trail, you can still tackle an important leg of it: the 160-mile River to River Trail travels across southern Illinois, from the Ohio River to the Mississippi. If you’ve never been to this part of the country, you’re in for a real treat. Towering slot canyons, sandstone sculpted bluffs, dense deciduous forests (hike this one in fall if you can), and, of course, sweeping views of two of the most iconic rivers of the Midwest are but a few of the treasures to be found along the way. While the forests surrounding this trail look untouched today, don’t be fooled, as you may be following an ancient wagon trail, long overgrown. A word of caution: since this trail is not maintained to the same standards that you’ll find in established wilderness areas, aspiring thru-hikers should come prepared with serious navigational skills.”
Read that last paragraph. I’m working on that. Got a new carb for my walk behind trimmer today, and those 40 more blazes need to go up..
7/29/16 It is getting cool enough here in a couple of days. Unfortunately for clearing the Alto Pass water plant section, my walk behind trimmer is waiting for a new carburetor. My metal tipped weed eater is ready to go though. Going to reclear the Makanda area same trip and I need the Walk behind for the roadbank and fields there. Soon!
7/26/16 It has been too hot to head down there for awhile now. It is my intention to drive down to Alto Pass and clear the trail at the Water works plant to the woods. It is impenetrable right now and the hill path someone has cut is pretty grown up and probably not marked from the Cedar lake direction. The Makanda to RT 51 area needs cut as well again as well. Hopefully it will cool off in a couple of weeks.
I just came back from 2 days Blazing the trail with 68 blazes from Camp Cadiz to the junction and down to Iron Furnace. That leaves the 2 miles up to High Knob (which was ok last time I walked it) and the 4.7 down to E’town (which wasn’t that great.)
Sorry, I was out of Blazes and time.
Some of the worst places are blazed again, but nothing can stop vandalism which I assume played a part in the worst unmarked intersection where the R2R makes a 90 degree turn uphill from the trail for Northbound hikers who would probably continue the old roadbed straight.
The old trail to Camp Cadiz was passable but very overgrown in places. It was surprisingly good from the junction to Karbers Ridge Road. From there it varied greatly. Some places fine, some REALLY overgrown, but always followable. I’d recommend doing it after leaf off if you are game for a section you have never done. I did place probably 20 new blazes on the Karbers Ridge Road to Camp Cadiz section. There were already blazes at all the intersections.
Most of the trail was a lot better than this!
The Junction down to Iron Furnace was ok except for some confusing crossings and weedy areas. For the most part good. It just is the worst time to go with the weeds heat and bugs.
WE haven’t had a lot of rain and the only water running in the creeks was at the Lee Mine area and the next two crossings down.(for filtering)
I’m updating both the Battery Rock leg page and the E’town leg pages. with tons of new photos and some positive locations on the Maps to let you know exactly where you are and where to go.
The Makanda to Alto Pass leg has been reblazed including 3 previously unblazed intersections that have confused people in the past. Many of the old blazes are unreadable and many of the newer marker written 001 blazes are already unreadable. Using Krylon Fusion on plastic corrugated signboard with Sharpie oilbased paint markers on the new ones.
Did see some interesting sights. I used a weed cutter as a walking stick and played “Briar golf” with the creepers overhanging the trail along the way.
The shortcut under Cedar Lake (379/LCL) is impossible to follow at the upper East end. If you attempt it, you will have to bushwack the last part Eastbound. I recommend sticking to the River to River trail.
There are about 35 new blazes now including through Alto Pass to the highway overpass. Parts of the trail are weedy and the ticks are still in full bloom. Despite my fresh permethion sprayed clothes and bug spray, I probably flicked 20 ticks off my light colored pants but didn’t get bit.
I cleared the Makanda to route 51 trail again (5/30). It haden’t been cut this year yet and the highway weeds were higher than the Honda. I was having trouble with the camera and didn’t get any after views nor the one with the weeds higher than the car. I took a couple photos at the nice flowing creek in the middle of the route and that’s where the lens finally quit working for good. It’s all cleared for however long it lasts
I had a hitchhiker in my car when I was about to leave home. I call every snake that looks like this a “Prarie King Snake”. They are harmless and the ones this size don’t even bother to act like they will bite. He got to stay here in our woods.
The 2 wheeled string trimmer is the cat’s meow for brush clearing. Not so great on 3ft tall grass like in the 2 fields and the road bank, but better than anything else. Between that and my weed eater (which I didn’t use but did use the manual cutter) I have the tools. Between the 2 the Cargo mat is almost overwhelmed. But the Honda gets 40mpg making the 3 hour round trip no big deal moneywise. Didn’t see a bug today.
I have been working on an idea to make blazes out of corrugated plastic signboard and krylon fusion paint. So far I’ve discovered that it goes much better trying to stencil if you cut the diamonds out first. Expect some help in the E’town leg and Cedar Creek Lake areas in the near future. Heading down to Makanda today (5/24)to maintain the Makanda to Route 51 leg I adopted. Pics and story later.
I spent the day (3/15/16) down at the R2R cleaning up a couple spots on the trail that I had trouble with in the past. My wife wanted to come too on such a nice day and took off work.
On my previous trip heading West I was supposed to be meeting my wife on Garfield road just before Gilead Church road and I had to wade through 8ft tall weeds on the never mowed power line right of way after passing some interesting bluffs I had no time to explore. So I dragged my walk behind string trimmer to the power line right of way off Garfield road and after the Winter the trail is reasonably easy there, so instead of clearing trail, I explored the bluffs there with my wife.
Then I headed over to the Max Creek trail head at the Taylor Ridge Road just before RT45 and spent a couple hours and a tank of gas in the trimmer mowing roses that are crowding the trail between Max creek and the trailhead. I got it in reasonable shape but it needs another day of either manual cutting with my hand cutter on the high ones or my metal tipped weed whacker that needs a fuel line replaced. I was pretty pooped dragging that 2 wheeler through the mud for however far that was and we got out of there at 5:30 and made it to our voting place at 6:45 muddy to vote before 7. A good day on the trail though!
I posted photos of the bluffs on
I couldn’t sit home today so Paula & me went to Makanda and hiked the short section I’m taking care of, then went to Millstone Lake to see what the flood did to the exposed rock formations under the spillway that I’ve seen reported but no one posted photos of. I didn’t carry a pack, just a water bottle in my cargo pants pocket, but the back & ribs were a non issue. I even did a small amount of rock climbing out of the bottom of the spillway and no pain. So I had a wonderful day.
February is taking a little time off tomorrow after this too windy day. It will be a great day to be in the woods Saturday. I fell down & went boom a few weeks ago and my back & ribs are still too sore to do much. Ladder slipped out from under me, then I fell on it flat on my back bending 2 rungs and ruining the ladder I made a set of stairs the next priority and got them done a week later when I was recovered somewhat.
I do plan on getting down there next week do maybe do some re blazing in a couple trouble spots and maybe hit some of the rose bushes crowding the trail between Max Creek and the Taylor Ridge Road trailhead.
A few of us are going to do a 4 day hike in mid April from GOG to Taylor Ridge. Hopefully I’ll be fit by long before then.
I took a few of my favorite R2R photos to Staples and had them enlarged to 11×14 for less than $2 each. I culled 2 of the 6 and hung them on the wall of the building I have been working on since early Fall. Plans are to frame a map of the R2R and have a bunch of nice photos filling the wall around it to interest my friends who don’t hike.
I’ll put up a favorite photo page in the next couple of days. If anyone has some you’d like to share, I’d be happy to post them.
This is the time of the year we start getting cabin fever. Get out there, after all it’s FREE. (This tree stump is left at High Knob after they have cleared all the obstructing trees away..it’s back to being worth a trip again!)
This is the time I usually just do day trips. I’ve posted some good ones. (end of newest update)
I’m thinking of hiking the Eddyville to Gum Springs road section, (Map 7,8,9,10) one of the most consistently unblazed sections. (Shawneemart will let you park if you ask). The trail is easy to follow, you just pass a few trails, some more well traveled than the R2R and no blaze to tell you which way to go, yet never see a blaze for hours. You pass a few posts with the signs ripped off. At least it was this way a couple years ago. It’s mostly National Forest and it may have been reblazed since then if they maintained it, but it may have a few more after I pass through. Bay Lake/Millstone Lake whatever they call it this week is an awesome place to camp.
I’m going to be on the trail every opportunity. I have a Klymit Static V sleeping pad to try out. (It worked GREAT!) Anything has to be better than the 1/4′ foam pad I’ve lived with. I also have a solar powered lantern that folds up. (IT stayed on most of the night in a tree and seemed to charge ok on my backpack) We will see if it gets enough light to recharge in the woods. I have my doubts. I’d like to make the E’town to GOG leg this Fall to see it in the Fall colors and add some blazes. (Forgot about the 100 horse Fall trip from High Knob to E’town and Skipped that leg and did the Gum Springs area with my wife instead)
Now that the Pine Hills area and Makanda areas are cleared, I’d like to travel the Makanda to Ferne Clyff leg again as well. We will see how that pans out. I’d also like to make the day trip to Saltpeter cave during the peak color time. I still haven’t got there at the right time. I took some wonderful photos at peak on an overcast day, and got there past the peak last year. (Update, missed it this year too)
(end of newest post)
I discovered that Google Earth Pro is now free, and that the maps can be added to anyones website as long as the maps are credited and not altered by clouds or other natural looking modifications. Expect Google Earth maps with routes shown to be added to each page to go along with the present maps. I’ve already added one to clarify where the good and bad areas on map 19 are and you can get a feel for how long each area is. That should really be a help. (The areas are all cleared now)