Hike the River to River trail in So. IL from One Horse Gap to Garden of the Gods

The trail that we'll use are part of the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois

We'll start at One Horse Gap and use that trail system to head north towards Herod. A mile or two south of Herod we'll pick up the R2R trail.


We'll travel through Herod and a mile or so north the trail leaves the combo use road/trail and we'll again be back in the woods.

Trip Length: 13-15 miles depending on exit trail
The payoff: Camping and waking up in the Garden of the Gods recreation area.
Elevation Gains: 1@300' over 2 miles, 1@450' over 2 miles.
Blazes: The trail is generally well marked. However it is wise to have a GPS or map and compass.
Difficulty level: Moderate
Water: Looks to be plentiful but need to confirm with CO's in the area

Temp:  Expected to be 47 high and 32 low.  99% confidence level from NOAA.  (We'll see how well that works!) Precip is expected to be above average, so expect some rain.

Because of the distance we will leave camp Saturday morning at 0730. The trip requires experienced backpackers.

Parking: Friday night we will shuttle a car over to Garden of the Gods. We'll hike in the start of One Horse Gap and find a suitable place to camp.

Links:
http://www.theshawneenationalforest.com/
http://trimbleoutdoors.com/ViewTrip/2540253
http://www.theshawneenationalforest.com/home/shawnee-national-forest-trails/garden-of-the-gods
http://www.theshawneenationalforest.com/home/shawnee-national-forest-trails/river-to-river-trail


One Horse Gap Trail Highlights: The One Horse Gap Trail is famous for a short loop trail known as “the gap trail”. As its name indicates, the trail features a narrow gap in the bluffs that allows only one horse to pass through at a time. This trail system utilizes segments of system-trails, dirt and gravel roads and even remnants of old wagon roads. Many interesting things can be found along the One Horse gap trail, from old cemeteries and old homesite stone foundations to towering bluffs and Bubbling creeks. The trail system provides access to One Horse Gap Lake, War Bluff and Big Grand Pierre Creek (a candidate wild & scenic river) and the River to River Trail (a 160-mile linear trail spanning southern Illinois). Hikers and backpackers share the area with horseback riders and hunters. Also, be aware the Nine Day Trail Ride in late July, early August attracts thousands of Horse Riders to the One Horse Gap Trail every year. Facilities: The trail is accessible at a number of locations. However, most trail heads offer limited parking. It is recommended visitors hauling trailers park along the lake dam road . Length: 10 miles Travel Time: 1/2 hour to several hours. Depending on distance traveled Surface Type: Dirt, gravel. Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate Recommended Season: Spring, summer and fall Trail markings: River To River Trail (blue i)
Hiker/Equestrian Trail (white diamond)


Trail Highlights The River to River Trail passes through some of the most scenic areas in the country with a combination of plains, bayous, bluffs and upland forests. It crosses five of the seven Shawnee National Forest Wilderness Areas, as well as designated natural areas, Giant City State Park, Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge, Ferne Clyffe State Park, historic landmarks and Devil’s Backbone Park. Enjoy numerous tranquil settings, such as the sleepy waters of Cedar Lake, vast scenic overlooks of Garden of the Gods or a painted sky at sunset. The trail passes many wonderous natural features, such as Camel Rock, Battery Rock, the One Horse Gap and small, seasonal waterfalls. Peaceful little towns like Alto Pass, Herod Illinois and Rock Creek remind you of how things used to be. Trail visitors will encounter many challenges and experiences from crossing river levee roads, to riding through rugged wilderness terrain, to viewing scenic rock bluffs, to visiting small, quaint towns to crossing rippling waters of the rocky creeks on the River to river Trail in Illinois. Length: Approxmently 160 miles Travel Time: Approximately 2 to 3 weeks Surface Type: Dirt, pavement, rock, gravel and grass
Difficulty Level: Easy – Difficult Garden Of the Gods Overview

The Shawnee Hills took millions of years to form the Garden of the Gods in Illinois. The rock formations and cliffs at Garden of the Gods are made of sandstone and are about 320 million years old. Long ago most of Illinois, western Indiana and western Kentucky were covered by a giant inland sea.

For millions of years great rivers carried sand and mud to the sea, where it settled along the shoreline. Over time, the weight of the sediments turned them into layers of rock thousands of feet thick. At Garden of the Gods the sediment layers were over 20,000 feet thick or about 4 miles deep.

Eventually, a great uplift occurred, raising the inland sea above sea level causing it to fill in with sand and mud. The uplift also fractured the bedrock exposing it to natures erosive forces. Since that time, windblown sand, rain and freezing and thawing actions have worn down the layers of sediment creating the beautiful rock formations at Garden of the Gods.

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  • Ron W.

    Here is the path for our recent One Horse Gap to Garden of the Gods trip. When I cleaned up the file it was a little shorter than we first thought. The total distance was 14.4 miles, looks like John Little's estimate was right on track. (We'll still give him hell!)
    http://trimbleoutdoors.com/ViewTrip/2604654

    March 28, 2014

  • Kyle M.

    Did anyone get some gps locations for good camp sites that would work for next weekend?

    March 24, 2014

  • Annie H.

    Level 2: 16-miles with a 40-lb pack. Phew! I need to invest in some lighter equipment. It was a truly remarkable birthday weekend. Thanks to all who made it great :D

    2 · March 23, 2014

    • John L.

      Definitely level 2 all the way!

      2 · March 23, 2014

    • Kyle M.

      40 lbs is light.

      March 24, 2014

  • Ron W.

    Another awesome trip, thanks for leading this great adventure John.

    1 · March 23, 2014

  • Rob

    Thanks for a great weekend and a ton of laughs! Great meeting John, Ron and Annie. I look forward to the next adventure....BAM!

    3 · March 23, 2014

    • John L.

      LOL are you trying to get bammed already!

      1 · March 23, 2014

  • John L.

    Fantastic trip with fantastic people and absolutely gorgeous scenery!

    2 · March 23, 2014

  • John L.

    Here is a link to the maps we'll be using. I had to break it up into 6 different pdf files. File 1 starts at One Horse Gap and it works it's way from there. There are several trails leading from One Horse Gap that will get you to the R2R trail. The trail that I have planned is in blue. Once you hit the R2R trail it is straightforward-follow the combo road/trail to north of Herod. You will find a trail head heading off to the east towards GOTG. https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B1SPj9kceNN2WmlCeTVlRXJzaTQ&usp=sharing

    1 · March 18, 2014

    • John L.

      Yeah that sounds like fun. Either way it's going to be a great trip!

      1 · March 19, 2014

    • Annie H.

      Sounds good to me!

      March 20, 2014

  • Ron W.

    I am getting excited about this trip! Backpack is packed and ready to go. Weight is pretty good at 21.6 lbs, can you beat that John?

    2 · March 16, 2014

    • John L.

      My rain gear weighs 4 ounces. We can add that. :)

      March 19, 2014

    • John L.

      We'll see what it looks like when we do our beginners lightweight Bushwhack trip. That should be interesting.

      1 · March 19, 2014

  • Brandi

    I'm so dirty filthy jealous! Hope you guys have a great time though.

    2 · March 17, 2014

  • John L.

    Annie and I are thinking about starting our hike around 7:30 or 8 if we can. I know this isn't everyone's bag. I will see if I can get some printable maps set up for you to use.

    March 12, 2014

    • Ron W.

      I can go for that.

      March 12, 2014

    • Jeannie K

      silly me I didn't realize we were doing the whole thing in one day :) I may stop by and see my daughter on Sunday after we break camp then :)

      March 13, 2014

  • John L.

    I found this. We don't necessarily have to camp at the camp ground. Pharaoh Campground

    Pharaoh campground is open year round and includes 12 sites. Facilities include picnic tables, fire pits, pit toilets, and drinking water. $10.00 fee. First come first served. Over night parking for backpackers is located at the backpackers parking lot, the first road on the left as you enter the park. You can see more information here: http://www.backpackcamp.com/gardenofthegods.html

    1 · March 12, 2014

  • John L.

    Hello everyone! We need to start working out some logistics. It looks like everyone but Annie and myself is coming from Louisville. Let me know if that isn't correct.

    What time can everyone be there? I would like for someone to go to Garden of the Gods to drop off a car. Myself or someone else can then take them over to One Horse Gap where we will start our trip.

    March 5, 2014

    • Ron W.

      That sounds great Jeannie. John let me know if you have a camping spot in mind. If not we can find someplace along the trail and set up some sort of signal for you and Annie.

      1 · March 12, 2014

    • John L.

      Thanks Ron and Jeannie for setting that up. I was just going to find a place along the trail. It's not very far to the lake if we wanted to camp near there. My plan is to get the cars Saturday after our trip over to GOTG. If you want to have something at camp Sat night but not carry it you could leave it in the car.

      March 12, 2014

  • John L.

    Here is a link to One Horse Gap. At the bottom, underneath the map, are directions to get to the trailhead. There is limited parking at the trail head. Hopefully that won't be an issue.

    1 · March 6, 2014

    • Annie H.

      We'll have to perform a parking-dance so the car gods ensure our spot, LJ. Please begin the necessary preparations for a baby lamb sacrifice.

      2 · March 12, 2014

    • Annie H.

      Read the park description and history again. So. Excited. For. This. Trip. Gaaaah.

      March 12, 2014

  • Brandi

    There's probably no chance of getting through the waitlist at this point is there?

    1 · March 10, 2014

    • Ron W.

      Not too probable, but I like the optimism.

      1 · March 10, 2014

  • Ron W.

    What map do u recommend?

    February 5, 2014

    • Ron W.

      Thanks John I have one on the way.

      February 12, 2014

    • John L.

      Did u ask them to put a red x on it? Kyle may need it to navigate. He lost his red crayon.

      2 · February 12, 2014

  • Jeff

    Is the waiting list new? Can you only take so many?

    February 5, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    We'd really like to go. We're thru hiking the R2R trail in May, and this would be a great test run. I added us to the waitlist, but there are 3 of us - not just two. We'll keep our fingers crossed that the group opens up!

    January 26, 2014

  • John L.

    Haven't made any firm plans yet but I would like to be there by 5 and get the cars shuttled.

    January 20, 2014

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