A list of trailheads is going to be semi hard to compile since some require a bit of a distance to get there like Panthers Den trailhead, and others are right on the Trail like Gum Springs. Some access points aren’t really on the trail like Iron Furnace but are only 1/4 mile away and are great parking spots. Some trailheads like Battery Rock are pretty remote and limited parking. Every road the trail crosses with parking is also a good unofficial trailhead but roads like Route 45 with no parking aren’t. There are some forest road that have access to Whoopie Cat Lake and Lake Tecumseh, but I’m not familiar with them and unless you are adventurous, I’m just listing what I know to be good access points.
So here are a list of trailheads and access points starting from Elizabethtown West to Devils Backbone State Park. Following this are trailheads and access points from the intersection 2 miles south of High Knob to Battery Rock.
Starting at the Ohio river.
#1. Elizabethtown. I guess main street. Not sure where exactly for an extended hike. Maybe just leave a note on the dash?. There is no actual Trailhead.
#2 Iron Furnace. Good parking lot about 1/4 mile from the trail, which is just road where it crosses.
#3 Parking Access #1. I haven’t driven it, but it was a gravel road and parking area where it meets the trail. It ends at the trail, ignore the old roadbed on the map that continues. The access road is across from Central Church on 475E.
#4 High Knob. Although the trail crosses Cadiz Road (Not the official route to Camp Cadiz but it would cut 2 miles to travel to Camp Cadiz that way) and Karbers Ridge Road, there is no trailhead at either. (There is parking on Karbers Ridge Road farther North where the Trail to Camp Cadiz crosses it, but there is about a mile of hiking to the junction from there ) The Trail crosses just South of High Knob. The access to High Knob is through High Knob Campground and though overnight parking is prohibited at High Knob itself, Jo Jo at High Knob campground will give permission to park for an extended time and show you where to park. Buy something from her store if you need it.
#5 Backpackers Parking on the west side of Garden of the Gods. The trail is close by. I’m not sure if overnight is ok or not in the lower main parking area. I’d play it safe in the Backpackers parking lot.
#6 Trailhead North of Herod. I’ve never actually taken that spur. I think it’s marked 001A on the blazes. There is no overnight parking anywhere else around Herod that I’m aware of.
There are a couple of access roads up towards one horse Gap but they are rough and confusing, and the trail isn’t marked where it crosses. There is also a spur trail from One Horse Gap to One Horse Gap Lake but it also can be confusing and is pretty far from the trail, so I’m not listing it as access.
#7 Trailhead at Bethesda Church. Limited parking at trailhead here. Not at the Church without permission.
#8 Lusk Creek Trailhead. Big graveled parking lot. Vault toilets. Circle B campground across the road. The trail has 1 route East from here, 2 routes west. Take the south one. I took the Western route last time and it was pretty ho hum with traffic just further west the whole way. South is a straight shot to the same place.
#9 Eddyville. You can park overnight at the Shawnee Mart with permission.
#10 Millstone/Bay lake. Same lake 2 different names. Very limited parking along the access road, if you have an SUV with care you can make it up the access road to the HUGE parking area at the lake. The road is eroded in places up to the lake so be careful traveling up it. there is a “Hump” at the lower edge of the parking that takes some clearance to get over. I did see a Chevy Terrain SUV up there but I didn’t take my lower riding Ford Flex up it. Pickups will be fine.
#11 Trigg Tower Road Just above and West of Trigg Tower. Nice parking lot.
#12 Gum Springs Road. Large parking area.
#13 Garfield Road just off Simpson Blacktop/Gilead Church road. There is room to park off to the side for a daytrip but Taylor Ridge Trailhead West of Max creek is the next actual Trailhead.
#14 Taylor Ridge Trailhead between Max Creek and RT 45 Good parking area. For longer term parking, the good people at Taylor Farms just across the road from Taylor Ridge Road will give permission to park out of the way in their driveway with the proper notice.
#15 Day trip parking at Dutchmans Lake. I don’t think overnight is allowed.
#16 Ferne Clyffe Tent campground. Actually a nice place with vault toilets. No stealth camping is officially permitted anywhere but in designated areas. You are supposed to be able to leave a car at the maintenance shed, but I don’t know where that is. You could always leave your car at the campground and pay the $5-$10 overnight fee. I don’t know what it was because I was on foot and never saw anyone or any self pay signage.
#17 Hawkes Cave/ Borks waterfall Whatever the name is this week. At the curve south of Goreville Road on Regent Lane. There is a parking area there, but not sure about overnight, Probably ok.
#18 Panthers Den. Great place but lousy Trailhead. Small and pretty far from the trail. The Parking area is only maybe 1/8 mile below the trail which uses the road you are on. If traveling the R2R West, just walk on North up the road and keep an eye to the left for trail blazes. If going East, take the path from the trailhead to Panthers Den or take the road north and keep your eyes open for the blazes to the right.
#19 Rocky Comfort Road. There is room for one or two cars, maybe more. The map has the route wrong, the trailhead is right on the trail which crosses straight across the road.
#20 Giant City Campground. Free overnight parking, showers available $5 fee for camping, $4 for showers unless the cost has risen.
#21 Giant City Lodge. You need to bring real money and get the all you can eat chicken at the lodge. Overnight parking over by the water tower with a note on the dash.
#22 Makanda Park at the strip.
#23 Lirley trailhead Good parking.
#24 Alto Pass. it’s a town. Surely one of the two parks could be overnight. Best bet is Godwin Trailhead.
#25 Godwin trailhead. Nice shaded parking on Bald Knob Road.
#26 Pine Hills/Larue road trailhead. Very limited parking. 3 cars maybe. I left the Honda there for 2 nights but hey, it’s a 1985. Nobody messed with it.
#27 Devils Backbone State park campground. Overnight might be a fee, but people have left their cars there. Grand Tower the town is only across the street and overnight might be ok somewhere there.
The old Eastern leg. Battery Rock to the R2R E’town leg junction.
#1 Battery Rock trailhead. Remote location several places to park. I left the Honda here with no problem, but it is really in a remote location.
#2 The trailhead off Tucker Hill Road is a decent place to park. There is a Quail Habitat there so their may be hunters in season.
#3 Where the downed sign is at Forest Road 1749 is a decent trailhead with parking room for several cars.
#4 Camp Cadiz One of my favorite camping sites. Overnight is free off to the side at the Northern trail head.
#5 I THINK there is room to park at the Karbers Ridge Northside crossing.
That’s all I can think of.