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River To River Trail, IL

Apr 23 - Apr 30, 2017 -- $1250 ★★


Backpacking in Illinois? You're kidding, right?


No, we're not kidding. At the Southern end of Illinois, a fairly secluded 162 mile trail winds its way from the Ohio River to the Mississippi River, visiting bluffs, promonotories and an occasional tower. The so-called River To River Trail connects the two eponymous rivers, primarily traversing the Shawnee National Forest. Although difficult in places, this is a pretty good destination for first timers as elevation changes aren't dramatic and we will be staying in a few frontcountry campgrounds along the way.


Our route will begin on Route 7 (like you know where that is) near the intersection of the Elizabethtown and Battery Rock trails. We will progressively visit many of the highlights of the area: High Knob, Garden of the Gods, One Horse Gap, Lusk Natural Area, High Point / Owl Bluff, Millstone Lake and Trigg Tower.


Here are topo maps of our proposed route



Weather

Weather is always an important concern when backpacking. Historical April weather averages high 50s low 60s during the day, which is nice for backpacking although a bit cool. Expect 40s at night. Be prepared for rain as well, often in the form of a violent but short thunderstorm.



Trip Leaders

Chris Frey
2nd Guide TBD


Cost

$1250 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a hotel room with another trip participant. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from St. Louis, MO (STL) as well as personal equipment, and any restaurant meals.


Covered expenses include 2 nights in a hotel, campground costs, 6 days of trail meals, ground transportation, permits, fees and awesome guides.



Important Note

The trail might be fairly muddy because of horse traffic


Some photos courtesy of noel


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Itinerary
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Guides for this trip
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Important Note
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Itinerary


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Fly or drive into St. Louis, MO (STL)


Take free airport shuttle to Holiday Inn Express and Suites St. Louis NW-Hazelwood, 323 Taylor Road, Hazelwood, MO, 63042, 314-736-1720.


Equipment shakedown


Before body composition measurements taken


Trail mix distribution


Buy common last minute and forgotten items at REI, 1703 S Brentwood Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63144, (314) 918-1004


Go out for dinner in town. Dinner not included in trip cost.



Monday, April 24, 2017

2nd set of before body composition measurements taken


Free breakfast at hotel


Store all items you won't bring on the trail at either the hotel or a storage unit


Drive / shuttle 2.5 hours to the River To River Trail in Illinois


Begin hiking at Highway 7


Hike 0.9 miles to the ETown / Battery Rock trail intersection


Hike 2.2 miles to High Knob access road


Hike 0.3 roundtrip miles to the top of High Knob Lookout Tower, elevation 929'


Hike 4.3 miles to the Garden of the Gods


Camp at the Garden of the Gods campsite, 100 yards east of here


Mileage Today: 7.7. Total mileage: 7.7


Possible bailout: High Knob


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Take 15 minutes to day-hike the Garden of the Gods Observation Trail


Hike 5.9 miles to Herod


There is a hiker friendly house on the road where we can take a break in their Gazebo. In 2016, we were able to wait out a rain storm and stay dry here.


Hike 2.0 miles to an established wilderness campsite next to water


Camp at wilderness campsite.


Mileage Today: 7.9. Total mileage: 15.6


Possible bailout: Herod


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Hike 2.6 miles to a cave


Hike 0.8 miles to another cave


Hike 0.3 miles to One Horse Gap. Take the time to drop packs and walk through the one horse gap (to the right)


Hike 3.3 miles to Concord Cemetary


Hike 2.5 miles to Little Lusk Creek


Dispersed camp at unmarked campsite just after crossing Little Lusk Creek, practicing Leave No Trace


Mileage Today: 9.5. Total mileage: 25.1


Possible bailout: Gravel Road near Concord Cemetary


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Hike 3.1 miles to Four Corners Trail Junction


Hike 1.9 miles to Owl Bluff / High Point. There is a great lookout view 100 feet West of the trail. Nice place for lunch


Hike 3.1 miles to Lusk Creek Wilderness Trailhead


Hike 1.5 miles past the busy and noisy route 145 to the road at the intersection of trail 001B


Turn right at the road and after crossing the creek, turn right into the woods. Walk a few hundred yards upstream.


Dispersed camp near surface water practicing Leave No Trace


Mileage Today: 9.6. Total mileage: 34.7


Possible bailout: Eddyville


Friday, April 28, 2017

Hike back to the road


Hike 1.6 miles to Eddyville.


Optional: Hike 0.5 round trip miles to the Shawnee Mart Convenience Store. Restrooms available here.


Hike 2.2 miles to Petticoat Junction. Note the petticoats hanging in the trees


Hike about 4.8 miles, the last mile or so on horse trails to Bay Creek Ranch & Campground


Frontcountry camp at Bay Creek Ranch, pay showers available


Mileage Today: 8.6. Total mileage: 42.7


Possible bailout: Eddyville


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Hike about 1.5 miles on horse trails to Millstone Lake


Hike 0.5 miles to Tin Whistle Tunnel. Yee haw, a tunnel!


Hike 4.0 miles to Trigg Tower turnoff


Drop packs, turn left and hike 1.0 round trip miles to Trigg Fire Tower with great views


Hike 0.4 miles to the Moccasin Gap Trail


Turn right and hike about 1.0 miles on the Moccasin Gap Trail to Cedar Falls. Please note: There's an extensive network of trail through here that may not be so well marked. A GPS might be useful.


Hike about 0.5 miles to Camp Ondessonk


Hike to the Camp Ondessonk Office. Get a ride back to the shuttle vehicle (about 1.5 hours round trip)


End of hiking


Mileage Today: 8.9. Total mileage: 51.6


Mileage Today: 7.4. Total mileage: 50.1


Possible bailout: Trigg Tower Road


Shuttle back to St. Louis


Check back into Holiday Inn Express and Suites St. Louis NW-Hazelwood, 323 Taylor Road, Hazelwood, MO, 63042, 314-736-1720.


"After" measurements taken


Dinner in town (cost not included in trip cost)


Awards Ceremony


This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Check out of Hotel


Take Free airport shuttle


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