Starting on the map 4 is High Knob. Down the access road then across the road is the River to River trail West towards Garden of the Gods.
High Knob has a nice view of the forest along the ridge.
Don’t forget to look straight down at the left end of the retaining wall and see the smiley face.
It’s also a nice place for group photos.
There are some nice stretches of trail from here and several side trails. (#2)
Upon nearing Buzzards Point, the trail will continue at the base of the bluffs, but a spur will climb them. Buzzards Point is actually the top of a series of slot canyons, which most people visiting them will call caves. The trail over the top gets you there fairly quickly from the East, but after passing Buzzards Roost it curves North and continues for quite a way before descending to the bottom and curving back to the River to River trail. There are a LOT of interesting bluffs along this trail though it isn’t well traveled or marked. If you have a couple extra hours to spare it is worth it. (#4,5,6)
The first two photos in this set are from Buzzards Pont. The second two the slot canyons (where a friend of mine and me camped the year before). The last pair are from the bottom of the bluffs on the return trail back down on the West side from Buzzards Pont top, or just around the left side starting from the lower front.. The less traveled trail is worth it.
As the trail continues through the woods it crosses a valley and continues up the other side. The trail markers are sparse here.
Continuing on towards Garden of the Gods you will be walking the trail close to a park road and you will get to see what looks like a cave but is actually an arch with one end supported by a rock that looks like it is nearing the limit of what it can hold up.
Soon you will be at Garden of the Gods. This is one of the main Tourist areas in the Shawnee, and worth the trip, but very travelled. There are several interesting trails in the area. You can camp at the Pharaoh campground up the hill from the GoG parking area, but it is a steep hike and although I think there is supposed to be a water source at the camp (hand pump well), I didn’t need it so I didn’t go any further than the restroom halfway up. (Vault style, no water)
Continuing West from the Garden of the Gods the trail curves around and starts to climb a ridge. after passing Trail 152B. The day I was traveling in mid October, the sun was shining on the hill the Garden of the Gods is on and looks really great in Fall Colors.
You keep climbing as the ridge gets higher and you get to a great observation area. It has a fire ring and horse tie up lines.
If you can’t camp there, or want a more secluded area, or just have too much daylight just around the next bend to the West look for a clearing along the ridge. I actually spotted 3 of them in a line with a decent amount of privacy brush between them and they all had fire rings and equally great views.
The people who were with me were happy I knew about them when someone was already at the big clearing. I’m not sure these weren’t as great! Just keep an eye open and you will spot them.
It was actually a little late to take a photo when I camped. I ate my dinner soon after these photos because I like to eat pretty far from where I camp so the smell of food doesn’t attract critters to my tent. I ended up having a couple visitors anyway. The trail was very nice on the bluff I camped on. I do like to camp on high ground because it seems to me the Coyotes and Bobcats spend more time making noise at night in the valleys.
Traveling on toward Herod, the trail follows the ridge until it turns into an old roadbed through a nice section of woods until it comes out on a blacktop down to Herod. There isn’t much of a shoulder so be cautious and walk single file. There is a trailhead with parking at the end of spur 001E. They call it the Hitchin’ Post.
You head towards Herod and cross a creek, then make a left just as you are getting to town on Raum Road. You will see this gazebo from the road. It had Spring water from a spigot. The gazebo is still available to rest, but THERE IS NO WATER AVAILABLE! It has been out of order for years, the reason is the water is unfiltered and the risk of a lawsuit is too great for them to take the chance.
The road past the gazebo up and to the right, then up and to the left. I assure you it does level off eventually but is a long climb. The trail continues along the road to the left at the T which turns to gravel. To the Right is Williams hill, one of the highest points in So. IL.
The trail goes off to the left from the road AFTER crossing a creek at a bridge.
The old route went in to the woods just before the bridge then crossed the creek which was silly, so take note.
You pass a campsite then cross the creek.
You get to a nice gravel road and make it up a hillside and into a nice pine woods. The trail intersects with a forest road there and continues to the Left for a short way before turning right into the woods.. As you approach the One Horse gap area you start to see bluffs on your right.
I camped on top of these bluffs even though it was only mid afternoon because I wanted to get some photos from the overlook at dusk and dawn. This is probably my favorite overlook in the Shawnee forest.
The next morning after a great sunrise from the bluff, I set out for One Horse Lake and my ride home. One Horse lake is a great secluded area that now has a pretty decent gravel road to it. Not too far off the R2R trail. Parking lot on one end of the dam, camp clearing and grassy ramp on the other.
One Horse Gap is a neat area and although the gap itself isn’t a big deal, the top of the bluff has a nice flat rock area to camp or picnic and you can park up there if you have the ground clearance and don’t mind skinning your paint on some trees traveling the totally awful forest road to the top if you can even figure out where it comes from. My friend Randal stayed there one time after staying at the lake this trip.
Sunrise on eagles point NE of One Horse Gap.
More Eagles point. Don’t pass it UP!
On top of the last Bluff before Herod. Not a bad alternative camping spot.