So off on Day 2. Blister time. I had on a pair of Sketcher Hiking shoes that were advertised as wide. They seemed ok around the yard, but they didn’t fit well. Right AFTER this, they got to be dog toys. I have since found a source for reasonable priced 4E wides that I now use. Northside is the brand from Shoe sensation. Not all that great, but I have hiked since then for as many miles, on hard roads and off with no blisters. My feet were dry and clean hiking socks on this trip. It was the shoe fit. I got packed up with frost on the tent. That’s what you want on your fingers first thing. It was foggy, and quiet. Well, back to following an old roadbed again. The trail looks pretty squirrely on the map, but there is a nice ridge to climb and I suppose the loop at the bottom was the way the old road coped with the ridge.
You will loop around to the South go North and climb up to that squiggle on the map to get to the top. Just below the ridge top is a really nice Natural Bridge/cave. (after this little one) It was a nice hike.
And it climbs & loops back past the top. I know it’s been there for hundreds or thousands of years, but I’d stay off it, you don’t want to be the one they talk about in hushed voices. Better not to look at the cracks before you walk under it. Continuing on to the top of the ridge along the last South part of the “squiggle”
When I got to the top of the ridge and saw the trail just follows it without a view to the West, I went cross country the few hundred feet to see…a pasture. Oh. Next was a big side trail. Grand central side trail.
On to Map 15. Continuing up to the top of the ridge, the trail moves North towards Goreville I was curious as to what the view off of the West side of the bluff was so I walked the short distance to the fence on the west and had a look. Don’t bother, it’s just a pasture. Nice walking trail through this area though.
There are several small plots along the way with plantings of wildlife food, so you may see some along this area. You will get to a nice bluff. You get to climb it, so don’t worry about missing it.
Further North you will finally come out of the Forest on a road named Happy Hollow Road. If you need food, there are a few places in Goreville about 1/2 mile to the East down Goreville Road. I’d recommend H&H Food & Fuel in an old gas station with surprisingly clean inside and nice menu at reasonable prices.
(I told them I’d put them on the map!)
You will come to a road to the northwest named Martin Cave Lane. My 4th Edition 2011 map shows the trail heading up this road and turning left at the end. There were no markers at this intersection for the simple reason the trail doesn’t go this way anymore. It continues on Happy Hollow road for another mile before turning right into a nice big gravel trailhead. Unfortunately, I followed the 2011 map and didn’t discover this until I had got to the dead end on Martin Cave road. This is what the trail looks like now at the end of the road. Follow the faint trail remains until you get down to the creek at the bottom and follow it West until you see the Big Wide River to river trail on the other side. It was a ways before I saw the first trail marker along it, which was a relief, but I did get to see a nice outcropping on the way down. Instead, take the fork left and stay on Happy Hollow road to the Trailhead. Either way you go you will end up along the easy to follow trail along the left side of the creek (heading West) You will eventually cross the creek again after turning North. You will be in a low valley which is cleared for a gas line. You are almost to a natural waterfall and pool that is well worth the very short side trip. Some maps have it labeled as Hawkes cave.
The R2R trail slopes upwards from the creek to Regent Road. The creek just runs across the road so cross there and continue north, but use caution when taking pics from the top!
Head up the road until you get to the stop sign at Goreville Rd. That is where my wife picked me up and took me to a real hotel room for some R&R.
All that Green at the top of Map 16 Is Panthers Den Wilderness. It was too late in the day to make it and I didn’t want to camp in the middle of the road, so this was the end of this trip. I had already hiked the R2R to Panthers Den from the other direction so forgive me if I skipped the county road walking part.
I do have photos I took from the trailhead on
Here is Map 17. Note, the River to River trail has been moved to go under Those lakes for at least 10 Years. It is drawn wrong on every map. I’ve put where it goes now in Yellow. The purple dots are directions to the old golf course chimney which is almost visible from the trail, and the old touch of nature log hut.
Here is the Panther den Wilderness Map showing the side trails and access trail (371) from the trailhead on Rocky Comfort Road. It can get a little confusing there without this map.
Next trip is the rest of the trail! I did go to Grand Tower, but DIDN’T Hike the whole levee this trip.
(Last Spring I did walk the Alto Pass to Grand Tower and Devils Backbone State Park 20 mile leg on the last day of HIS Thru Hike with a great guy by the trail name of “Swede”. I like to say I FINISHED the whole 165 miles in one day, but it took me a couple of years to do the whole thing.)
Took my wife there and spent the day. Then Last Fall I parked my car on the trailhead at “Snake Road” (Took some photos along Government Rock bluff first, possibly the best view in Southern IL) and did Clear Springs Wilderness, Bald Knob area, Alto Pass, Giant City Lodge (Yay!) and Panthers Den. I’ll reverse it for the page. Stay tuned and also The Saltpeter Cave side trip area in Maximum Color. (on it’s own page)