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 topography map lookups on the smart phone and some GPS tracking software we finally realized that this place was part of the Shawnee National Forest.
What we encountered was an icefall like none-other in southern Illinois. Out of a large split in the rock under an overhang this 15 -20 foot icefall dramatically appears out of seemingly nowhere. Absolutely Beautiful!
2. Naturally Beautiful
Piney Creek Ravine State Natural Area – In the northernmost reaches of the Shawnee National Forest in Randolph County is a Natural Area that seems out-of-place with its surroundings. Piney Creek lies at the intersection of the Mississippi floodplain and the upland of the Shawnee Hills. This intersection has created a deep sandstone canyon-like environment that is known for its ancient Native American Rock Art. Some, though, come here to view another marvel, the 40-50 foot wet-weather waterfall, that is an equally impressive sight completely frozen.
3. A Trail That Lives Up To Its Name
Kinkaid Lake Waterfall Trail – On a lonely trail near the northern reaches of Kincaid Lake, is the aptly named Waterfall Trail. After 1.5 miles hiking up and down several hills, you eventually come to a rocky creek that takes a quick 10-15 foot plunge to the lake that waits less than a mile away.
Although not as impressive as some of its southeastern neighbors, Kincaid Falls is a welcome addition to the waterfalls of the western side of the Shawnee Hills.
4. Curtain, Exit Stage Left
Rocky Bluff Falls at Devils Kitchen – With a final farewell, we slowly say good-bye to a winter, that hung on till the very end. The average winter in the Shawnee Hills could be considered mild, but this winter was not average. It was one of the few winters that below zero temperatures clung for weeks allowing this year to be the “Year of the Icefall”.
So with spring within our grasps, we say farewell to the spectacular and beautiful natural formations that have made this winter one of the most photogenic of recent memory.
Oops! Be CarefulHiking in Icy Conditions can be dangerous. The risk of falling is high, so please use precautions when visiting any area in wintry conditions. For better grip on the icy and snowy surfaces check out our article on Staying Upright in wintery Conditions.
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