dogs on leash
We had never done Cove Hollow before. Our aim was to go from Cove Hollow Trail Head to Boat Dock Road. The hike was beautiful but not well marked. Indeed, it was this app that we finally had to rely on to navigate our way. Had a blast anyway. Just glad we got to the cars before dusk.
I took the opportunity to ring in 2017, by making a day trip to Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois. We rolled out of St. Louis at 7:30am and after a 2-1/2 hour drive, we were at one of the many trailheads to Jackson Falls Recreational Area. Finding the trailhead was easy using the AllTrails app, but what was not easy was navigating the countless trails in the area without a map. I committed a rookie mistake and did not have a map printed or downloaded, nor did i download a previous route to my GPS or phone, and the area has zero cell service for AT&T so getting any help on the trail was not possible. That being said, we felt pretty good as the trail we started following 48C was really well marked (we went right at the top of the falls, eventually the trail number changed and then eventually there were no markers at all. We kept hiking along the top of the bluff wall, knowing that eventually the topography would change and we could sneak along the base of the bluff to get to the bottom of the waterfall. We finally came to some old fence posts / trail markers and butt-slid and scrambled down a slope to the base of the bluff and picked up another trail that followed the base. The trail was half rock scrambling, and half guessing which way it went...but we pressed on always keeping the bluff to our left and using the trails when they were noticeble (very very few trail markings). The geology the hike along with all of the moss and ferns had already placed this hike among my favorite, but when we finally made our way back to the base of Jackson Falls (about 3-1/2 miles or so after we started) this hike shot up to my favorite Missouri or Illinois hike to date. What an incredible place to enjoy lunch.
As we were finishing up lunch, three people on horses (the trails in the area are mixed use, and you need to watch where you are stepping to avoid the horse crap that may be on the trail) came up along the base (it was amazing to see horses navigate the rocky terrain with ease). We were hoping there was a trail up at the base of the falls, but were told if we headed along the bluff in the direction we were hiking, it would be another 3+ miles before we could get up on the bluff, but there may be a way to scramble up the bluff near the second waterfall (but the rider indicated it had been years since he had been in the area, and wasn't sure). He was right, and once we found the second waterfall, we were able to scramble our way up with only one slightly hairy push on wet rock. All in all, this was an awesome hike, but go prepared. There are lots of holes, crevices, and rocks to roll ankles on, and the moss covered rock is slick as snot.
Ascent: 634 ft
Descent: 660 ft
Max Elevation: 630 ft
Tags: hiking, Jackson Falls Recreational Area, Shawnee National Forest
Really cool walk that really met expectations. Beautiful hike with huge rock formations. Started at the west trail head near restroom and understand the rating of difficult due to the short climb down into ravine which took a few minutes to figure out. Also have to watch for the hairpin turn on the east end of trail when heading up to parking lot.
John S. on Garden of the Gods Observation Trai...
super easy hiking with beautiful rock formations
Was definitely worth it. I can't wait to return to Shawnee National Forest and do some more of the trails. After not having done any hiking in a good three months this was a great one to get back into it. My friend and I took a couple of detours off of the trail to do some more intense climbing/hiking/backpacking and we definitely broke a sweat. The views were fantastic and it's even better that we had no idea what to expect. Make sure you take some waterproof shoes or boots though if you're interested in being more adventurous.
Did this one today. I parked on Boat Dock Road and hiked to the north trail head and back. Nice trail, and pretty easy to follow. I am pretty sure I did the Wolf Den trail both on the way in and the way back. Hard to say for sure, as the signage was a little ambiguous. Awesome scenery and a little bit of a challenge. Took me about 4 hours total.
This is a shorter hike and the description "a paved trail with steep ups and downs" is accurate. You will have to be prepared to climb some small hills and you will also run into a small set of stairs on the trail. The trail is mostly paved, which is nice. It is only a short distance from the Cape Girardeau Nature Center -- you could park in the parking lot and take a stroller to the trail. Just remember if you use a stroller that there will be lots of hills -- this didn't stop us, but could be an issue for some. Good way to end a Nature Center trip!
LOVE this trail. It is my absolute favorite in Illinois! Any time a friend says they havn't been, I take them. It is a very short trail if you are going for distance. The whole fun of it is to explore and climb around on the big rocks. Gives you a nice little rush. I recomend going in the fall when the trees are going becasue it is by far the best view. Also, I like to go on a weekday becasue it does get pretty crowded on weekends.