Are you looking for a great waterfall hike that doesn’t involve miles of walking or sloshing through torrential creeks?
Then Rocky Bluff Trail is the answer. This short 1.8 mile trail which can be cut down to less than a mile (via an official shortcut trail) is one of the best waterfall trails in Southern Illinois.Take a look at our previous article The WaterFall Chaser: Rocky Bluff Falls for additional information.
Where Is It?
Nestled in the southeastern corner of Williamson County about 15 miles away from Marion is the 810 acre Devils Kitchen Lake, which is part of the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refugee.
A short distance from the spillway on Tacoma Rd the lake overflows into Grassy Creek. A small unnamed tributary funnels into into this creek, next to a small parking area, which is the trailhead for Rocky Bluff Trail.
Why the Update?
One word, WATER and LOTS of it.
The stream that makes up this waterfall can be finicky, but recently after what seems like weeks of rain it has finally shown its true potential.
I have personally, seen this waterfall in many different stages of flow, but I wasn’t prepared for the sight when I peered over the edge.
This usually two-tier waterfall was totally bypassing the second-tier and waves of water were pounding the plunge pool below.
Down the Staircase
Follow the ROAR is the easiest way to find this waterfall, but if that’s not enough take a left and soon you will be descending to the second tier of this monster.
Here you can see behind the waterfall and feel the cool mist blow into your face. It’s amazing that this fall lies so close to the road, but can easily be passed by without even a second thought.
Do yourself a favor and stop!
Beyond the Creek
If you decide to cross the creek below the waterfall, you will need to be careful, especially during high water. The rocks are slippery and the water can be deep.
A preferred approach would be to make your way back up to the top and take the small bridge over the top of the waterfall. Either way it will lead you to the next attraction.
A Second Fall?
Well, it’s actually more like a cascade or a “sliding fall”, but that doesn’t mean its not worth the extra steps.
When you make it to the shortcut trail from either direction, you will see a small stream crossing the trail. This trail is where the second waterfall calls home.
If you are coming from the top it will be on your right. You will definitely hear this one before you see it.
A small unofficail side-trail will give you a glimpse of this very unique “sliding fall”. There is not another one (to my knowledge) that is quite like this in Southern Illinois.
Take time to enjoy this waterfall and after you are done you can make the loop or continue to hike the entire 1.8 mile trail.
Upper Rocky Bluff Falls Cascade & FaceBook
The following photo is of the upper cascade on the main Rocky Bluff Falls. On our Facebook page we let our readers pick the photo that they liked best to include into this article.
This photo was the winner by a landslide! I want to Thank everyone that took the time to comment and “Like”.
Because of the response, in the future we will be using Facebook more to decide what gets posted here in these articles. If you not a “Liker” or Fan already, make sure to get involved today so you can get your input listened to.
To sign up just click Shawnee Hills Outdoors Facebook Page and click LIKE or use the Sidebar FaceBook LIKE on this page. Thanks.
US Fee Area
As a note, this is a US Fee Area, which means you must purchase a pass or sticker, before parking at the trailhead or any other area at the Crab Orchard NWF. For updated pricing go to the Visitors Service Section of the Crab Orchard NWF website. As of this post the daily fee is $2 per vehicle or $5 a week. One can also purchase a yearly sticker for $15 for the first vehicle. To pick up your pass go to the Visitor’s Center located south of the Marion Airport at 8858 Route 148, Marion, Il. For any questions, regarding the refugee call their office at 618-997-3344.
Although waterfalls are beautiful they can also be deadly. Stay away from the edges and remember any rock that is wet can be slippery. Most of all be alert and use common sense to get home alive. Read an article on a fellow photographer and nature explorer Ed Cooley on his brush with disaster at an Arkansas Waterfall.