Hidden just off the road is a waterfall located on a small 40-acre tract on Shawnee National Forest land. With no trail and no signs, Rocky Comfort Falls is a bushwack through dense forest undergrowth, that not everyone should attempt. The few that do will be greeted by one of those rare finds, that few will ever see.
ROCKY COMFORT FALLS
Location: Shawnee National Forest
Managed: National Forest service
Access: Asphalt Rd
Nearest Town: Cobden, IL
Photogenic Rank: 4
Solitude Rank: 5
Best Time: After Rain, Ground Fully Saturated
Best Season: Early Spring
20+ foot Secluded Waterfall with Large Plunge Pool
NO Trails, Requires Bushwhacking, Slippery Terrain after Rain
Part II – Why This Waterfall Made Me Cancel My Vacation
In the previous article, Why This Waterfall Made Me Cancel My Vacation, the hope of finding a “new” waterfall slipped away when a scouted waterfall was determined to be on private property.
As I looked at my GPS, there was another V-shaped valley off to the east. Recently, I had begun searching out areas on topographical maps that looked like they might be home to waterfalls. Just the week before, I had searched a creek just north of here on the same road and found a beautiful creek, but no waterfalls. That experience lead to the article, 3 Reasons Scouting Failure Still Leads to Success, which had produced the lead where I was for this article.
As the map above shows, I traveled along a disappearing bluff, which then gave way to another small bluff that angled down.
That is when my disappointment on the roadside waterfall, turned to amazement.
The bluff continued to grow on the way down. A small rock filled bluff shelter appeared as a gazed upon a site not expected. I had only come this way to check another failed valley off my list, but as I got closer, I noticed that this wasn’t a small waterfall.
The plunge pool told the story of a waterfall capable of displacing the ground below. I was pretty excited at the discovery as I posed for the photo below.
Now to Verify
I marked the location on my GPS. The handheld device did not tell me if it was on public land, but looking at the Motor Vehicle Use Map, it appeared to be so. The issue was that I needed verification that it was public, so that I could release its location.
My intentions were to go Monday to the Shawnee National Forest Headquarters in Harrisburg to see if they could help proving it was on public land.
Being it was Sunday, I did not have to wait long. After visiting Lusk Creek for the article 6 Miles – 3 Streams – 1 Unexpected Rattlesnake, I went to the headquarters where I was directed to talk to a gentleman who knew about forest holdings.
I told him my purpose and we looked on the USGS Topo maps from 1996, which indicated it was public, but he went one-step further and verified it as government land from the Union County 2013 Plat Book.
YES! It was official. The waterfall was on public land.
This small 40 acre piece of public land, held a marvel that was in my own backyard. If it was not for Erick who initially gave me the lead for the waterfall off the road (which is private), I would have never looked in this small unassuming valley.
I did not presume that I was the first to ever have seen this waterfall. This “new” waterfall has been known for sometime, but to me seeing a new waterfall for the first time so close to the road was almost unfathomable.
I had thought my waterfall chasing days were done years ago, but this year alone, I have found seven off-the-trail waterfalls, with four of them being significant additions to the other “forgotten” waterfalls of Southern Illinois.
Waiting for Water
I had to wait for rain and lots of it, because the drainage area for the waterfall was small. It took less than a week to see it fully flowing as it rained most the day on Thursday.
So, there it was. A rare event had occurred when in less than a week. A potential area was scouted, verified, and photographed in flow.
The following is a chronological list of these events:
- Friday – Release of 3 Reason Article – Erick gave tip on roadside waterfall
- Friday Evening – Found location near road – Marked with Google Maps
- Sunday – Boots to the ground – Roadside waterfall private – Found public waterfall
- Monday – Went to Shawnee National Forest Headquarters – Verified waterfall on public land
- Thursday – After rain all day was able to photograph in full flow.
Disclaimer: One of the waterfalls mentioned in the above article is just off the road is private property. Please respect private property rights and stay within the bound of public lands. The photos on this page are not the waterfall along the road. This website never recommends places to visit where rights to use are disputed. Avoid Thorn Rd, because it may be a private road (could not verify).
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