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.
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.