Backpack into Panther Den

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This trip is backpacking not a car camping trip. Those going early are walking in on the pantheon den trail to find Friday night's spot. I will hike out and wait for others to arrive and lead them to where camp is set. 

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A 4 1/2 mile trek thru The Heart of the Panther Den Wilderness. Climb a few ridges, cross a vew valleys, wander thru a pine forest... Ahhh... :)

*Buzzard Chimmey Cave
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A series of caves on the west wall of the valley, one of which is rumored to have a vertical chimmney. Could be a good spot to camp if raining.
*Canyon
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A vertical crack in the rock face has created a small canyon with a small cave or two.
*Main and Rock Wall South
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L @ 3-way. Head W following River to River Trail (RTR).
*Old Road and River to River Trail
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L @ 3-way. Rejoin the county road and head S back to the trailhead.
on the way to Panther Den
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*Panther Den Fire Ring
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Panther Den. Enjoy the namesake rock formations. Follow the RTR trail N. Explore the rock overhang shelters along the way.
*Rock Formations
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*Rock Wall and Old Spur West
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L @ 3-way. Head NE to top of ridge. Follow top of ridge N.
*Small Canyon
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Spur - South Trailhead
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Park in the loop to the east. This is the trailhead for the River to River Trail Panther Den Spur as it follows the county road north. The signs used to be a white diamond but some have been updated with a red dot in the center.
Spur and Main East
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R @ 3-way. Head N along valley staying on the River to River Trail. Spur Trail to the left leads back SW to the Trailhead.
Spur and Main West
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L @ 3-way. Head NE up the ridge. Follow the trail as it curves up and around to the SW. Relax for a while in the pine forest along the top of the ridge.
Spur and Old Spur East
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L @ 3-way and follow old spur trail E This was a Spur Trail bypass when a land owner put up a gate across the road.
Waterfall
Location:[masked], [masked]

Additional details will be available soon. This trip will follow a portion of the River to River trail in the Shawnee Hills area of Southern Illinois. We will go down Friday night and camp at the Giant City campsite and wake bright and early on Sat to go out on the trail. Additional Details including route and mileage will be available shortly.

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  • Diane S.

    Very beautiful.....ferns, rock formations, babbling brooks a few waterfalls, hooting owls at night, and a symphany of birds in the morning (more than here) Will be a sensual ecstasy next week - spring wildflowers all opened up this morning!

    1 · April 27, 2014

    • Pete

      Awesome pictures Diane! :) Thanks!

      April 28, 2014

  • Steve

    Very Good time, dug a few ticks out of Maggie and Me but it was well worth it. Thanks Becky for hosting such a neat adventure and thanks Diane for taking time to take and post all the beautiful pictures and thanks Pete for giving me a hand over the top of the rock formation .

    1 · April 28, 2014

    • Pete

      Any time Steve!

      1 · April 28, 2014

  • Pete

    My first backpack of the season so the muscles are a bit sore! A great weekend, drove down with acquaintances and came back with friends! Big thanks Becky for making it extra fun and adventurous!

    1 · April 27, 2014

  • Becky

    Map isn't helpful. Cool place to explore during the day or night.

    April 27, 2014

    • Jon

      So how was the trip? and the weather?

      April 27, 2014

  • Becky

    The drive from Peoria is about 5 hours. I set the leave time at 5:30 for those working on Friday. This can be adjusted. Let's talk meetup time in the parking lot so we all hike in together. It's going to be dark unless the majority can leave earlier. It's okay if you can't make it before dark as I would l hike out and meet you in the parking lot. It is my plan to be down and scout the first night's site before dark.
    Our backpacking group follows Leave No Trace Behind protocol. There is no set backpacker's camp area so it's perfect for our adventure. Being flexible and exploring if our first campsite will be our second will be decided by the group on Saturday. We might find a perfect spot exploring. I have a water filter pump for Saturday that I'm bringing. One more would be nice but not necessary. Feedback on arrival meetup time at the trail head for your plans is needed.

    1 · April 7, 2014

    • Diane S.

      I saw on the site there is water

      April 24, 2014

    • Becky

      Yes, streams where one can filter water. There isn't source of water on the trail other than filtering.

      April 24, 2014

  • Pete

    Okay Becky and Diane... Becky, I can just pick you up at your place at 10:00 am Friday. Diane, what works for you? Do you live in Peoria? Would it make sense for us to pick you up at your place or do you want to meet some other place where you can leave your car. Let me know! Friday is almost upon us!

    April 23, 2014

    • Diane S.

      I was just going to message you but fell asleep...I was going to suggest meeting in Morton on I 74 by Cracker Barrel (Lots of lighted public parking) so you wouldn't have to backtrack and then hop on I 55 down thru Lincoln and springfield

      April 24, 2014

    • Pete

      Ok Diane! See you at 10:00 am at the Morton Cracker Barrel...

      April 24, 2014

  • Susan H

    I am traveling with Brian C. Hope to see you at the GC campsite before darK!

    April 24, 2014

    • Becky

      We're not staying Friday night at the campground but on the trail. A small group is going down early to get that established

      1 · April 24, 2014

  • Diane S.

    :( Wake up with Al's map and narrative said possibility of severe storms ! :( We should watch this....

    April 23, 2014

    • Pete

      Hmmm... Weather.com for Cabondale looks great for Fri and Sat with only a 30% chance of showers on Sunday...

      1 · April 23, 2014

    • Becky

      30% tells me to pack rain gear. Thankfully it's a 4.5 mike loop.

      1 · April 23, 2014

  • Phil C

    Have a blast!

    2 · April 18, 2014

    • Phil C

      Yep, hauled out 40lbs Sat (in the rain) and about 15 on Sun. About 25 miles total

      1 · April 21, 2014

    • Diane S.

      Aren't some peeps just so careless? :( See trash all over here too...

      April 22, 2014

  • Pete

    Becky! 9:00? Like 9:00

    April 21, 2014

    • Becky

      okay 10:00AM

      2 · April 21, 2014

    • Becky

      Pete, there is such a time as 9:00am but no worries for beauty sleep. Just keep the eye mask down so no sunlight peeks in.
      :)

      April 21, 2014

  • Diane S.

    I was going to let you decide Pete - you so graciously offered to drive - thanks
    BTW Becky and Pete: I took a dry run with my backpack loaded with 35 # for about a mile at camp wokonda OMG! I'm worried I may not be in shape for this (it was hot)and I stubbed my toe on cement Sat :( Its healing but bruised. I eiter have to lighten up or go slow - is that OK with you? Let me know the truth caused I will back out if it is any more strenuous than what Sandridge was....

    1 · April 21, 2014

    • Raj

      Im doing this for the first time , bought my first set of gear this week, thanks to Becky for helping me out ! So I'm not gonna be fast either lol

      1 · April 21, 2014

  • Pete

    Diane, I'm sure slow will be fine with all of us! :)

    2 · April 21, 2014

    • Pete

      I'm recovering from a injured foot too!

      April 21, 2014

  • Pete

    Becky and Diane, It looks like it's going to be the three of us going town early to be joined by Raj later in the day. I'm looking forward to my first trip of the season!

    What time shall we leave? If it's a 5 hour drive, I'm thinking at least by 1:00 pm so we get there a couple of hours before dark. Earlier is okay by me too. I'll just drive to Peoria and pick you both up...

    1 · April 21, 2014

    • Becky

      1 sounds good to me

      April 21, 2014

    • Becky

      Talked with instructor. Makanda IL has a super cool metal art shop to visit. What if we left by 9?

      1 · April 21, 2014

  • Pete

    Hey Diane and Raj, I was texting Becky this morning, it seems that the 4 of us are up for leaving earlier on Friday. We were thinking that the 4 of us could carpool together. I'll be happy to drive and my minivan will easily hold 4 people and all of our gear. Just need to decide on a time and place to meet on Friday.

    1 · April 16, 2014

    • Jon

      Unfortunately I cannot go. My Mom has some health issues. I look forward to another time and place.

      April 17, 2014

    • Raj

      Pete, for some reason I thought the trip was on this Friday until Becky pointed out that its next Friday lol ! I will be working next Friday, I am hoping to leave work as early as possible, but if it gets late, you guys can go ahead and I will still catch up with u guys at the Giant city campsite, if I manage to get off early from work then I'd be happy to join you !

      April 19, 2014

  • Jon

    I'm familiar with Southern Illinois...went to SIU in the 80's. Have been to the Panther Den once since college....my memories were quite different than what I found. Look forward to going back.

    April 17, 2014

    • Diane S.

      What did you find Jon?

      April 17, 2014

    • Jon

      We used to park off of what is now Panther Den Road.....and then hike about an hour to the site. As of a few years ago.....you can now take Panther Den LANE about a half mile north to a parking area....where the trail starts. Even on Google maps it names the trail Panther Den Loop. https://maps.google.co...­

      April 18, 2014

  • Raj

    Friday will probably be a holiday, so I can leave early if needed. I will be driving from Peoria, so if anyone is looking to carpool, your welcome to join.

    April 15, 2014

    • Diane S.

      I have Fri off too - would like to carpool and leave earlier so we are not in the dark setting up!

      April 16, 2014

    • Raj

      Sounds good, I'm hoping Becky will join us too , unless she has other plans, so lets decide a meeting point.

      1 · April 16, 2014

  • Diane S.

    I got the time off and may rsvp soon - would like to car pool

    2 · April 14, 2014

  • Diane S.

    Does anyone have a smaller outside frame backpack I could borrow if I get this time off work?

    April 8, 2014

    • mark r.

      Used to use it would most likely do the trick

      1 · April 8, 2014

    • Diane S.

      Hi Mark..thanks....I might be traveling to the Quad cities and or a nature preserve just south of there this weekend...how far is that /I could meet up and pick it up ahead of time [masked]

      April 9, 2014

  • mark r.

    Any more details yet? Could I carpool with anyone? I'd like to maybe bring my grand daughter but would depend on mileage She's only been on a couple short trips and is a trooper but I would avoid a death march with her till she's a little more experienced and older, she's twelve.

    1 · April 3, 2014

    • Ron G.

      How old is your grand daughter? My 11 daughter is excited that another girl will be going

      April 7, 2014

    • mark r.

      She turns 13 may 1st

      April 7, 2014

  • Joanne

    Don't suppose you are planning to camp near a parking lot Saturday night? (doesn't work out to get sub for teaching Sunday morning.)

    April 5, 2014

    • Becky

      I suspect the hike out won't be more than 2-2.5 miles along the path. Those that need to leave earlier adjust their wake time and head out. I've not been down to this trail before so I can't determine where the camp area will be until we get there.

      April 5, 2014

  • Becky

    Definite carpool needs here, too. I'm working with Jim to get the details sorted out. Update soon

    April 3, 2014

  • Jon

    I'm familiar with Southern Illinois...went to SIU in the 80's. Have been to the Panther Den once since college....my memories were quite different than what I found. Look forward to going back.

    March 27, 2014

  • Joanne

    Maybe...I'm teaching Sunday am & don't know if I can find a sub. (would need to be back in Bloomington before 10)

    March 18, 2014

  • Pat

    I may go along and bring my repelling gear. I need to look at the work load a little closer to this one to decide. Great park!

    1 · March 5, 2014

  • Richard

    This looks like a great hike Too bad I'll be out of town, but if you guys decide to do this again, I'll definitely go if I can.

    March 5, 2014

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