Ferne Clyffe State Park – Round Bluff Trail

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This series, Notes from the Trail, focuses on thoughts and events that happen with the interactions in nature. I step onto my back porch trying to gauge how  today's weather will be.  I am cheerful that once again the deep humidity of the long summer has subsided.  Thoughts of fall attempt to encroach upon the mind.  I shake them away.  The calender still says August and … [Read more...]

Alto Pass – Quetil Trail

Quetil Trail at Alto Pass

A Gem Hidden in Plain Sight I pull into the trailhead parking area just south of downtown Alto Pass.  As I scramble out of the truck I look over my shoulder and take in most of the business and brick building of downtown.  I love the atmosphere here.  It is like I have stepped back into a scenic eastern mountain town nestled in a small valley.  Time seems to have slowed here … [Read more...]

Quetil Trail – Alto Pass – Illinois

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Quick post this week spotlighting our first non-Shawnee National Forest or State Park land.  Quetil Trail is located right next to downtown Alto Pass, Illinois. Formally a railway, this short scenic section has been preserved as a town recreational area.    The parking area is close to main street in Alto Pass.  The trail is a nice level grade and interesting signs give … [Read more...]

Bell Smith Springs – Grand Staircase & Natural Bridge – Part II

Grand Staircase at Bell Smith Springs

This series, Notes from the Trail, focuses on thoughts and events that happen with the interactions in nature. Did you miss part one? Click on the following link to get caught up on all the action - Bell Smith Springs: Part One - Devils Backbone. Monday July 12, 2010 I walk amongst the trees and shrubs that thrive within the canyon.  In places it feels like a jungle as … [Read more...]

Bell Smith Springs – Devils Backbone – Part I

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This series, Notes from the Trail, focuses on thoughts and events that happen with the interactions in nature. As I head off the main road on the outskirts of Ozark, IL, the road turns to gravel.  All roads leading to my destination are made of rock bringing to this area a sense of remoteness.  The truck bounces along the uneven road.  The familiar clouds of  dust that … [Read more...]

Cave In Rock State Park

Cave In rock

This series, Notes from the Trail, focuses on thoughts and events that happen with the interactions in nature.  Cave-in-Rock State Park One of the great rivers of the East flows below me, the Ohio.  Its muddy waters ripple with a slight breeze from the south.  Waves go against the current and give the impression of the river flowing backwards.  White clouds loom … [Read more...]

Top 3 Gottados – Southern Illinois Cave Shelters

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This is the fourth entry in a series called Top 3 Gottados (Got to do). This series spotlights interesting and unique areas in Southern Illinois that everyone enjoying the Shawnee Hills should take time to explore. Cave or Rock (Bluff) Shelter? The three areas in this article all have the name "cave" located in the title.  First, though we must determine what a "cave" … [Read more...]

The Waterfall Chaser: Rocky Bluff Falls

Rocky Bluff Falls

This series focuses on photos and videos from our local waterfalls in the Shawnee Hills of Southern Illinois.  If you haven't read our previous posts in this series click the following link:  The Waterfall Chaser Archives. Rain?  Let's Go! That's right once again the area was inundated with water from above.  I knew what time it was.  It was time to grab the photo and … [Read more...]

Top 3 Gottados – The Natural Bridges of the Shawnee Hills

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This is the third in a series called Top 3 Gottados (Got to do). This series will spotlight interesting and unique areas that everyone enjoying the Shawnee Hills should take time to explore. The last entry into the Top 3 series we looked at the Top 3 Gottados- Easy to Get to Wildflower Hikes.  This week we focus on three awe-inspiring spans of solid rock, the Top 3 … [Read more...]

The Silent Barking of Dogs at Pine Hills

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As you drive around the Shawnee Hills this spring one thing you may notice is the proliferation of green.  It is the color of new spring growth and the sign that summer is on its way.  Amongst all this green is a native tree that prides itself in drawing attention, the dogwood.  This tree is abundant in southern Illinois, but one of the most dramatic places to … [Read more...]

Behind The Scenes: WGN Cruisin’ Illinois WaterFall Chaser Segment

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WGN COMES TO TOWN It was late-February not long after the  5 Icy Photos in the Shawnee National Forest was released that I opened my Gmail to see an e-mail from Julian Crews of WGN-Chicago.  He had seen the photos and was interested in restarting his Cruisin' Illinois series for the new season. He was wanting to come down and film some of the Icefalls that had been a staple … [Read more...]

Burden Falls – The Best Waterfall in Southern Illinois ?

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If you could visit only one waterfall in Southern Illinois would this be the one to go to?  Ask several different people and you will get several different answers, but can one Waterfall be called the BEST in Southern Illinois? This article delves head-long into a debate that will rage long after you read this article. The Stage The sound of rushing water fills your head … [Read more...]

Final 4 Photos To End An Epic Winter in Southern Illinois

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1.  Split in The Rock Icefall Near Piney Creek Ravine State Natural Area - Sometimes places  come upon you unexpectedly, places that you have passed a hundred times on your way to somewhere else.  This was the case for this area.  On the way back from Piney Creek my brother spotted a valley of giant icefalls.  Before we even got out of the vehicle and after some agonizing … [Read more...]

Slip and Slide to 5 Icy Shawnee National Forest Photos

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1. Secret Ice Fall Boulder Creek Falls - This frozen waterfall is one of those hidden gems in Illinois that you must get off the beaten path to view.  Located near the Jackson Hollow Natural Area just west of Jackson Falls, this 50-60 foot giant is difficult to see flowing during the summer, but if the conditions are like this winter with frigid nights for over a week … [Read more...]