The Southern Illinois Adventure Journal

Welcome to a journal of journeys in Southern Illinois.

Cache River

Canoeing the cache river is a true adventure. You can access the lower cache river from a public access launch south of Perks, IL. Here you will find the state 1000 year old bald cyprss tree at cache riverchampion bald cypress tree from easy to navigate and well marked trails in the wetlands. It is an amazing thought when you realize that this tree is over 1,000 years old. Eagle Pond is another destination worth the travel. Signs lead you to a large open pond lined wtih cypress trees. Eagle Pond is owned by the Nature Conservancy. There we were able to pull ashore to stretch our legs after the hour journey. These photos were taken from a trip in mid October. The temperature was a mild 75 degrees but on the water it felt like 90 degrees in the afternoon sun. Although we brought bug spray, we suprisingly did not need to use it. If you are new to canoeing do not worry; the water is relativley still. We did not see any of the 3 varieties of poisonous snakes that live in the region, but saw alot of frogs and birds. The trails took about 2 hours to navigatge. It was a very relaxing adventure, and we look forward to returning each season.

canoe launch on the lower cache river Eagle Pond on the cache riversign for eagle pond at cache river

For more information on the Cache River Natural Area visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Cache River information page


Bell Smith Springs

Stairs at Bell Smith SpringsA hiking trip to breath taking Bell Smith Springs is worth the time. The area has many miles of clearly marked trails where you can view a natural arch, a spring at Devils Backbone, and many rock outcrops. To enter the canyon you must hike down a hand carved set of stone stairs between the bluff walls. We were not able to view the natural arch on this visit due to high water at the creek crossing, but Devils Backbone was amazing to see. At the base of the two massive rocks along the bluff there is a natural spring that creates a crystal clear pool of icy cold water. The water trickles down into the creek that lies between the two large bluffs. Devils BackboneIt was a 60 degree early January day with a dense fog in the air, and the fog was very thick in the valley. As we were walking next to the bluffs we could feel the air temperature rise and drop. The winter time allows you a better view of the rock formations, but this is a place that is beautiful in any season.

For more information visit the Shawnee National Forest information page on Bell Smith Springs

rock overhangsign at entrancestairs going down


Millstone Bluff

Millstone BluffHiking through the remains of an ancient native american village is an adventure. Millstone Bluff near the very small town of Robbs features a Mississipian tribe settlement. Here you can see depressions on top of a 325 foot towering hill with a 360 degree view where dwellings once existed. Also, the site features native american rock carvings, grave sites, and a pre historic stone wall. The trail is only 3/4 mile, easy to navigate, but has steep inclines. grave siteThere are many information signs along the trail that show you what to look for. We were not able to see the petroglyphs but looked for quite a while. It was a very wet but mild winter day and we thought that maybe the carvings did not show up well on wet rock. It is amazing to think about how these people lived so many years ago on top of this high hill. One grave site is clearly marked along the trail. Early settlers to the area used to carve stones to grind grain (mill stones) at the bottom of the bluff. At the base of the bluff you can see the remains of the old mill stone quary. We look forward to returning in the spring on a dry day.


For more infomation visit the Shawnee National Forests information site on Millstone Bluff


Petroglyphs Base of Millstone bluff mill stone


Giant City Nature Trail

Fat Man SqueezeThis mile long loop trail is one of the highlights of Giant City State Park. Huge sand stone bluffs create sheer walls that resemble a city. We hiked the trail on a 45 degree day in late January with a foot of ice and snow blanketing the ground. The road was not plowed in the park and it was a poor decision to try to navigate it even with our 4 wheel drive vehicle. Many times I thought we were sure to run off the road. Giant CityOne of the unique features of the trail is 'fat man sqeeze' where if you are slender enough you can barely fit between the slit in the bluff and climb to the top. Also, there are carvings in the rock that date back to the 1860's in the 'city' portion of the trail. Some of the carvings are so high up that it appears that they were carved on horseback. The hilly trail is easy to navigate and has boardwalks to assist you in the rugged terrain. As many times as we have hiked this trail it still is breath taking to stand within these ancient natural stone walls.

Carvings From 1862 Giant City Nature Trail Giant City

Click here for more information on Giant City State Park.

More adventures are coming soon. Next is Little Grand Canyon.






















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