River to River Trail and Shawnee Forest Exploration
River to River Trail Hike
2022 Thru Hike October 14-25!

2022 Thru Hike October 14-25!

Day 1

This trip started at Battery Rock and ended at Devils Backbone State Park. It will be picture heavy and separated day to day.

I decided to Start at Battery Rock because I hadn’t been through there for quite a while. I thought it might change my luck, and this trip was going to be about enjoying the forest in the prettiest time of the year. I wasn’t out to set any records. My equipment is good used or reconditioned for the most part.

My requirements are number one light weight and number two reasonable cost. I have a base weight just over 20 lbs and with the current drought limiting water to filter, I was carrying more water than normal, about 6 lbs or about 2.5L. That really made the difference believe it or not. I just can’t carry a lot of weight without my back and shoulders hurting by the end of the day.

Let’s get to the hike. My wife dropped me off at the Battery Rock trailhead and kissed me good luck! We planned on her picking me up the 6th day and she had a hotel booked for a night with a shower and a real bed, (and real food).

The Easternmost River to River trail Blaze.
The Ohio Dip-Step #1
Ready to get the show on the road. I headed West a little after 10 am
You’ve seen roads before. This photo has a tiny animal on the road. Too far to make out but it was a young fawn wondering what I was. Just past “Lamb” the point where you finally turn West into the woods is just past the frame of the picture.
Taking 5 on a glorious day.
The trail follows an old roadbed that hunters still use. It’s passable more or less. Great Fall Colors.

Now when you tell people you were on a trail following an old roadbed, they think of a nice smooth road with grass growing in the cracks. Believe me a couple of places on these trails aspire to be canyons that were once old roadbeds. Most are covered with big rollers and leaves, a difficult trail to follow. So forget that idea of an easy stroll. Ok, this one switches back and forth between easy and not too bad with only about 1/3 as rollers and leaves.

You come out on Tucker Hill Road at the entrance to this area. Quail habitat I think.

Tuckerhill road heads West , meets Minerva Mine road, labeled also Tucker Hill road on Google maps just to be confusing and goes to Rt 1. I’m not going to do the whole play by play, Lots of little roads. I hiked to an area called Rock Creek where the trail starts to curve north. I didn’t have the Battery Rock leg uploaded and had an overall map that had no detail. That’s ok, I’ve done the route before. Blazed it with curvy i’s as a matter of fact. Several years ago more than my memory will take me. But that’s for tomorrow.

This big old boy came out of the leaves to say Hi at Route 1 It is the season.

Turning into the woods again this sign welcomed me into the parking area. There hasn’t been one since that tree in front was a sapling.

I stayed not far into the woods that first night.


I headed off thinking I had only a few miles to go looking where Camp Cadiz was, I didn’t have an actual map of the R2R trail here and didn’t know it took a big curve West and back. I was running tight on water, but found an actual flowing creek.

A lot of my old curvy i’s and even older painted plywood blazes were still around but pretty far between. Once in awhile a new one too. Still not hardly any maintenence and user made trails made it hard to be sure where I was. Avenza was working okish, but just showed red hashmarks since all I had was the overview map.

Interesting small bluffs along the way.
The trail was hard to follow where the leaves covered it. You just followed the most trail looking path. Usually just under a couple of trees where the leaves were down the most.
One of my old curvy I’s was a welcome sight.

Part of an old pickup cab with the gas tank still inside. Lots of old vehicles in the Shawnee.

Not a particularly helpful sign, but still on the right path.

A wet crossing! The water felt good. Lots of water still in Rock Creek as I passed earlier.

When you start seeing low caves, you are getting close to Camp Cadiz. Took a lot longer to get there than I remembered it being. Still 5 miles to the Elizabethtown leg.

CAMP CADIZ! A faucet across from the Vault toilets! About 6 or 7 Deer hunter tents and campers there, no sign of anyone. Naturally the park maintenance guy was cleaning it. No problem! I filled up my water bottles. Then I ate a late lunch. I think it was 1:00pm or close. I probably spent an hour there. Looking over the chimneys, reading the bulletins. I think I played a game of offline Risk on my phone to relax and rest my feet and shoulders. I headed back into the woods around 2pm.

Disaster hit about a half hour later. To the point I got to an intersection with multiple points. Avenza seemed to want to go to the left ward one. So I followed it along a creek bed until it petered out. A check with Avenza showed I was North of the path that was going to curve West. I decided to just go bushwhack South and refind it. I had to climb a steep hill. It was just over the top according to the Avenza map. I got up there and Avenza said I had passed it. There was nothing up there. I went a little further and it was showing me moving further away. I finally bit the bullet and retraced my steps all the way back to where the intersection was. Somehow an hour was gone.

I started taking a faint trail but Avenza showed it wrong again. So I took the obvious one up a hill that it said was wrong before and now it was right. I think it didn’t have a lock on the satellites the first time, plus my map was very general and probably not super acurate there to begin with. Of course I should have downloaded the Battery Rock leg to start with, but I didn’t because I thought I already had it, then thought I could just make do without it.

So somehow it had got to 3:30 and I was tired from bushwhacking up bluffs. I was PO’d at myself and had to hike hard to even get to the intersection with the E’town leg when I had thought I was going to at least make it it past High Knob. The worst thing was that I had a couple of hot spots that had moved on to blisters. Last year I had only gotten to Eddyville and this was shaping up to be the same. The curse of my Fall hiking was on again. I made it finally to the intersection and cleaned, popped and let my foot with the blisters heal until morning.

I found this tree with a heart on it while I was bushwhacking.


Down in the low 40’s last night. My REI down bag was so warm I hated to get out. Plans are to water up at High Knob and get as far as possible without aggravating my feet too much. The colder weather will help. I had washed off my feet and let them air all night. I had a thick pair of winter socks and used them for the cushioning. Only my right foot had problems. The usual problem child.

A few more from day 2.
The intersection.
The first cabin where you can turn North a short way to Hurricane Bluff. Great bluff but only do the left side along the ground until it peters out then back. Top left side is ok, right side is pretty blah upper and lower.
Second cabin. Interesting but they are up mostly by habit. Use caution.

I got to High Knob, checked in with JoJo. Bought her last 2 chocolate dipped vanilla ice cream bars and ate them, and a pepsi. She thought that was a terrible breakfast so I also bought a banana nut muffin which was more to her approval. She’s a card and one of my favorite characters on the trail.

Filled up fron the spigot out front and headed out.

Soon got to Buzzards Roost. The first place I stayed overnight when my buddy Randal introduced me to the Shawnee. Right on the trail and I’m not in a race so I took a few photos.
Lots of passageways.
Walk around to the left and go maybe 1/8 mile to the arch that looks like a cave with its trapdoor lowered.
There is a gap along the back wall, When it really wet there as a small waterfall on the left.
Up through the gap at the back.
The next archway headed West before GOG. Looks like a cave, but also a gap at the back.
Pretty scenery along the trail. It had clouded up.
Overcast at Giant overlook where I ate my lunch.
Finally came out of the woods and walked the road down to Herod Baptist Church.
In the pavilion is a refrigerator with a grab bag of free hikers treats and donated supplies.

Some doritos and nuts fell into my pockets and two cold bottles of water. THANKS!

I took the opportunity to get a picture there of the memorial to the founder of the R2R trail. John O’Dell. I met him once at a R2R Society meeting. A great man.

Raum road is always a slog. The treats make it much easier. I headed that way feeling good.

I noticed the bridge at the end had a flow of water on the left side on the left side of the creek. I believe it was spring water. Clear and filtered great. I was able to fill my two 1L bottles there. I came across Holly Hobbit camped at the creek on the trail. I talked awhile then headed on, I camped at the junction of the trail and Benham road at the top of the ridge. 32 that night. I was snug and slept like a rock all night.

Day 4

I started out early hoping to get to see the sunrise before it got too high from the observation areas.

There is one great camping place before Rocky Top. I don’t know what it is called, but I’ll call it Little Rocky Top for clarity. It was a great time to be there.

The Pixel Phones do something great with the sun flare.

This campsite has some not so swift people who stay here. Last year was also dry at this time and we walked up to an unattended fire in this same fire ring with flames. No one around.

So this year I walk up and see a hilarious result of the latest idiots fire building prowess.

Yes, drywall! He brought drywall to burn and it is singed around the edges in places. Apparently breaking it up didn’t help. Basically trying to burn concrete. Nice.

Heading on down the trail.
First look approaching Rocky Top
Why do I always have this urge to just hike to the horizon to see what is there?
Got to head on.
Whimsical Tree
Every time I go I enjoy more than I can share.
Hello Newt! Gave him a splash of water.
6 ft. Burl on a stump.
Not new or perfect, but it made someones day a long time ago and is still here for now. It means I’m getting to tonights goal, Owl Bluff.
Getting chilly. Time to Call it a day. Shotgun Eddys tomorrow.

Day 5

What a way to start the day! Beautiful sunrise. I Started in my Merrill’s but will switch to the Crocs I winterize for the long road walk up hill (Wear socks). The blisters are doing better. I wear the crocs when I can and they don’t hurt at all in them. The more air they get the drier they stay, Hot and sweaty needs to be avoided. They had a frozen glaze of dew on them from being outside, so hot is not a problem!

This morning is downhill to Bowed Tree Crossing, then uphill to Eddyville. I don’t need a morning workout.

Owl Bluff morning.

As you near the crossing you will see a bluff across the creek with a pool in front and a shelter cave. This is the bluff you must climb to the top to stay on the trail.

You will be up there later.
There is your official crossing, a nice morning swim. Let the horses do it. The sides are CCC stone Walls. Go back and use the left one as a path. Be careful! You climb down the end and walk across the stone and stick Dam. It’s actually easier than you would think.

There is a trick to getting down the trail from here. You take the wide path to the left across the dry creek bed coming down from the West. Keep an eye out for the official way across to the incline on the bluff. (There is a user made one without the official cedar blaze that actually goes to the same place.) You must take the incline to the top of the bluff to stay on the trail. There is also a trail from the end of the bluff heading to Guest Crossing to the North. You want to keep to the left and keep climbing the bluff. My first time I thought the trail on the left of the dry creek just went up to the trail. It doesn’t go anywhere. It just continues up the hill past the official cross over to the incline because people get lost all the time there.

The climb out from the valley seems endless. Lots of CCC stonework. There is one place across the trail where there is stonework to let a creek dross the path without eroding it in a hard rain. That’s about halfway out. Some is more uphill than others but it never relents for long.

At the top just up Homestead Road is the Lusk Creek Trailhead. Big enough for horse Trailers and has a vault toilet. If you are really low on water before the hike to Eddyville, there is a spigot on the left side of the BB Rance entrance. Ask for permission at the little office inside if there is anyone there.

There used to be 1 path from there to Eddyville and the trail took it. It’s straight for the most part. They built another trail that goes West to the highway, then along it at the bottom of a hill South, then back East to connect to the original straight trail. The trail to the highway is the official trail. Use your own judgement. This guy guards the original trail.

When you get to the highway eventually, the road changes to Straight Street and Shotgun Eddys is just around the curves. The sign namer is awesome IMO.

I was there at 12.05! Take your time eating if you aren’t in a race. You earned it!

There is only 1 road heading West out of town That’s it. There are a couple of iffy looking trees down here and there on the trail. Use caution.
A good sized Blue racer trying to get warmed up. He never moved and they are harmless and beneficial. Not to mention really cool looking. I had one as a pet for a week before I let him go as a teen.
My place for the night. Crow Knob has a lot of history and is a protected habitat. A lot of cool Lichen up on top. You can’t camp on it, but you can camp around the horse tie up lot. (I wouldn’t recommend close to the actual tie ups) You can also get a good signal up there.
There isn’t a view off until after the leaves fall, but it’s pretty interesting looking.

Today wasn’t a long day, my blisters needed some rest.

Day 6

So today my wife was going to pick me up. I’d call her from Gum Springs trailhead and get a ride to the Cabin at Shawnee trails in Goreville. Back on the trail in the morning. We finalized plans fron the top of Crow Knob which was very cold, but I did get the sun coming up.

For when people think old roadbeds sound like smooth hiking.
Approaching Millstone lake, one of the already good camping areas had been mowed most likely by a camper. Cool!
Lots of trails converge just East of Millstone Lake.
A very popular place to take your 4wd I assume.
Millstone Bluff from the Access road. The Access road was nearly unrecognizable. It is flat! and being widened! And the frog pond on the curve is gone! And you can drive anything up to the parking area.They even graveled part of the bare rock spillway stones for parking!
Only one thing missing.
(some Shawnee Saunterers were there)
The thing missing is water! It will come back, but never saw it this low.
Tin Whistle in the Fall.
One of those “You have to be kidding me” moments. There are a lot of trees down in the old roadbed East of Trigg and when we went by a few years ago Don Wall and I went around on this ridge. Now the trail officially goes that way but look where they put the blaze! If you can find it!

Why they didn’t put it on a tree at ground level we will never know. It’s right of center through a gap in the trees. That whole plateau up there has a lot of roads and earthen work, plus bricks and iron objects. I’d like to know the history. There is a Cemetery and crossroads nearby. The Crossroad North is blazed with the old Block style painted i’s but on the map it just curves from the north and reconnects back to the current R2R. Bill Gilmore says no record of it ever going that way.

There is water to be found on the trail here, and if you were dying of thirst you could drink it to put yourself out of your misery. Yuck
I didn’t take a picture of Gum Springs Trail head this night or the next morning, but that’s where I got picked up.

My wife picked me up and we went to a cabin at Shawnee Trails in Goreville. I hadn’t had a shower in 6 days and despite some strategic hand towel and soap work especially on that one foot, I was starting to really reek. She let me sit in the front seat though. She brought special and regular bandaids and antiseptic. The blistered area had healed a lot already though. The second from the middle toe needed a regular bandaid just to keep it from rubbing on the middle one. I actually used up the hot water taking such a long shower and cleaning my filthy feet. Constant dust from the trail went right through the shoes and socks.

Day 7

I was feeling a lot better today. My feet didn’t hurt at all, and my spirits were really uplifted by her support, she even brought the cat! I couldn’t stay up very late, and spent a lot of time getting clean but felt better on the trail than I did the first day!

Max Creek without the Creek
I saw these (user made?) signs at the climb out of Max Creek on the East side of the ridge and returning from the East side at the Taylor Ridge Road trailhead and the path looked pretty worn. Someone from the Society needs to check it out. The trail from Max Creek to the Trailhead is really getting overgrown and not at all noteworthy. A Max Creek Overlook?
Ah, the RT. 45 road walking. Not bad because the shoulder is wide mowed and flattish. Glad to be over though.
Yay! But the midpoint for dummies like me coming from Battery Rock is probably over by Max Creek, but I won’t quibble. Besides, the distance remaining is still the same for WB hikers.
The powerline right of way. I think there is just 1 blaze at each end, maybe I missed one? The trail goes from one powerline support, to the 3rd one down. Makes you anxious because the worn 4 wheeler path continues both ways. I found a plastic tube toolkit for someones 4 wheeler. It was black plastic and had a cheap screwdriver and a couple of wrenches and maybe a sparkplug tool in it. I didn’t want to carry it. or leave it on the ground so I stick it in a small tree right next to the R2R where it goes back in the woods WB. Someone will nab it.
The Cache lake just past Tunnel Hill Trail. Interesting shoreline exposed.
Magnificent Gas Line right of way! Now that is how you do it! Maples repopulating under Pine Canopy. It goes that way as far as the eye can see both ways.
I always mess up these panoramas. Too slow I think.
Wooly worm.
If you ever read “My worst Night on the Trail” this is where it happened. To Summarize, my partner that hike had decided his tent was too heavy and left the poles and was just going to use it for a ground cloth. Mine was the same one man one I’m using. It was supposed to rain hard after midnight so instead of hiking to Dutchmans Lake we stayed under the overpass and listened to traffic all night. Naturally it didn’t rain until noon the next day.
YAY! Dutchmans Lake! I like to camp here at the end of the T shaped dame far end on the right leg. It’s shielded from view from the ramp and seems more remote while still being on top. I just like a view.


Lots of road walking right off the bat, then endless trail walking in Ferne Clyffe today. First the pine woods I used to think was the most magical place in the Shawnee. Now it’s one of the worst after all the wind damage on the trail. Basically impassible and no route around.

Pre sunup mist on the Lake.
It’s much worse looking in the middle. I helped at the R2R Societies work day assisting the F.S. workers building a trail around the woods on the West side this Spring. It’s just road from there to Ferne Clyffe, of every variety. From gravel to asphalt to Highway then back.

Up around the North end of Tall Pines road, I came across a pickup almost on it’s side off the road. Not too long before coming up a hill I had looked up to see a Bobcat cross the road at a driveway. Even boring stretches can be interesting. As I got there, a police car passed me and we got there at the same time. He said it was just called in, and nobody was there. I could see the back side window of the extended cab was broken out. That’s how they probably got out. The door would have been pretty hard to open.

An interesting old barn with a lot of unreadable writing on it.
An Historical Marker to read.
At last I get to the Ferne Clyffe trailhead. No more road for awhile. I like their trail markers the best.
Eventually, and I mean like 3 hours of hiking later you get to the arch which is actually pretty cool. I did run into some hikers who ended up being Shawnee Saunterers too! We got to talking and they asked if I needed anything? Water? Uh, yeah. I’d been going since Gum Springs, but I was sure I had enough to make it to Goreville and didn’t fill up at Dutchmans Lake. Looks like I was a water bottle off because the water bottle they gave me and the little I had left just made it. THANK YOU!

It’s still a LONG way out from there.

I did come out the top of the Park, go into the ROC (Maybe) gas station next to the Dollar General in Goreville and buy a 2 piece chicken dinner which was great. Then head down the trail and got to the Bork Falls trailhead as it was getting dark. Jets were leaving a nice bunch of contrails.

Day 9

Ok I was feeling 100% again and today is a lot of road. Time to crank it up a notch. My foot no longer needed a bandage. My goal was Giant City, Campground and if enough time the 2 miles after a shower for A STEAK! Big Dreams!

Rock formations. Getting close to Borks Falls.
Instant Falls, just add water.
Getting close to the Panthers Den trailhead. Great Fall Display.
Can’t go there without seeing the formations.
The Den

I told a kid in front of his mom the Panthers name is Dan. Den is a typo. Mom laughed anyway.

After Panthers Den you get to a big Bluff. The way up is an old roadbed.

Off the right side on the way up is an early ’50’s Chevy Pickup. Turn LEFT when you see a trail going right. The R2R is the less traveled one there. Goes around the left side of the top of the bluff.
The trail To Giant City is lonely and not well traveled but you get to see this beaver made sculpture.
If you want to go to the Giant City campground, go right when the R2R meets the red dot trail. It isn’t far. I ran into the same woman who was camped just off Raum Road past Herod. Turns out it was Holly Hobbit, who I had talked to on the Shawnee Hikers page but didn’t know by sight.

She offered me a spot on her paid for space and I gladly accepted and saved me a walk to the caretakers spot at the other end of the Camp. By the time I talked to her awhile and got cleaned up and set up, I just wanted to crawl in my sleeping bag. Everyone had a fire even though it was blowing a gale and the partiers shouted until after midnight. Then I got some good sleep. Made a lot of miles today. Big breakfast tomorrow.

Day 10!

37.7 left to go. After the short 2 mile trip to Giant City Lodge, I ate a big Breakfast and got a late start to Alto Pass.

Giant City formations on the way out. Love the layer of swirly Iron.
I met Petunia at the Boardwalk in Makanda! I bought 2 sandwiches at the deli. One for now and one for dinner. And Ice Cream of course. Strawberry.

At 5pm I was at the Cedar Lake spillway refilling my water and getting a little panicky.

Sheppard road was looking great!
Oh man, the guy mowed the fields I mow a path in! First time in 3 years! Maybe I can retire from that?
An intersection of 2 abandoned roads on the trail. People are really still putting trash in the barrel. (Pssst. They don’t collect it anymore.)
5:00, the suns getting low, I have 4.5 miles to just get out of the woods. Better really turn it up.

I had to at least get to Alto Pass to finish the next day. As the sun had set but the light was still bright, I got to the last part of the woods 4.5 miles later and encountered a copperhead in the path. I flipped him to the side with my stick. Glad it was still light. I got to the Waterworks road and made the mile plus walk in the dark to Alto Pass (with my flashlight). The city park was a little too well lit. I walked up to the convenience store way late at 7pm ish and got a Pepsi out of the vending machine. I had already told my wife I was going to sleep in the Park, and goodnight. I made the decision (Under the influence of a cold Pepsi) to cross 127 to the end of the new 127 turn off for Bald Knob road, and see about stealth camping between the reroute and the old bridge piece of road. It worked and I put my tent right under the road closed sign. Too bad it was very windy and the sign was loose and rattled all night. I was still 3 miles from where I really needed to start and sleeping fitfully because of the rocking tent in the wind, and the rattling sign, I decided to start packing to get an early start at first light. (No photos in the dark sorry)

I might as well put this here.

Day 11 no time left.

Then when I was packed I decided to set out by flashlight a little before 5:am. Bald Knob cross was awesome looking BTW at night.

I walked the 3 miles, and still pitch black, decided to continue by flashlight my stick at the ready. No problems. I was actually a little ahead of where I needed to start.

I made Hutchins Creek by 8:00 and called my wife and told her that not only was I to Godwin Trailhead, but I was at Hutchins Creek and I’d be able to make it around 4pm, according to last times Thru Hike. Silly me.
My hiking buddy Don Walls marker was still there, but weathered. I guess it needs replaced or removed. Dons in a better place anyway.

Just downstream from the crossing is a Spring with a good flow. I filled up one of my quart bottles. It would be enough. (I also had part of a 20oz. in a front pocket.)

Once before, I had been at the other end of the Godwin trail at 11:30am and finished the other 11 miles by 4:30. Surely, I was ahead of that now by all the extra effort?

I got to the end at 11:30am. Ok. Same time. The big difference was with all the extra effort I was much more worn out and had to take a break every mile after the first 3 miles got me past route 3.

No hills but mile after miles of flat gravel road takes it out of you by the monotony. And I had over did it and not recharged from yesterday.

My upper calves and ankles and shoes were white with lime dust while my feet in the shoes were black with trail dust. I stopped wearing socks on day 8 or 9, they weren’t getting any dirtier and they were more comfortable in the hotter weather without. I kept washing them every night, but they were filthy after a half hour on the trail.
At last the Mississippi.
Not as dark as it looks. Mu Pixel battery died, and my old iphone doesn’t like backlight. The tower rock is there with a lot of people around it.
I met my wife after a couple earlier visits on the levee at Devils Backbone for the river dip. Did carry my pack the whole way out of principle. She encouraged me to keep going when it was hardest.

The Mississippi beach was just like the ocean without the shells, but colorful rocks made it extra special. I MADE IT! My feet hurt from too much hiking but no blisters. I don’t know why the water was so clear. Maybe because big muddy wasn’t flowing? She brought KFC. Oh man the relief of sitting in a car seat. Then off to DQ for a Chocolate Moolatte. Large. Got home and took a long too a hot bath with a lot of bubbles. Then fell asleep after a few minutes in my own bed with no sign rattling.

But I did make it, though I had my doubts sometimes. I was later than the previous effort, but I did make it before dark! I want extra points for that extra 50 feet of low water beach!