Browsed by
Tag: Southern Illinois

Burden Falls

Burden Falls

Burden Falls Wilderness is in Pope County, in the North West corner of the Shawnee National Forest. Just a short drive from Bell Smith Springs and Jackson Falls. I would highly recommend combining this with one of these other hiking trails.

Burden Falls Wilderness is composed of hiking and horse trails, but why most people visit is the actual Burden Falls.

The top of the waterfall is located almost directly off the parking lot, making this ideal for someone who doesn’t want to hike far. When entering or exiting the tiny parking lot, you probably drove through Burden Creek that becomes the waterfall in a few feet.

The upper cascades is only a few feet tall, but very lovely to see the creek dropping over standstone ledges.

The path crosses Burden Creek after the first upper cascade. From the north you can see a side view of the main falls. Continuing down the rock wall will give you the best views from the bottom of the falls.

   

View of the falls as you’re coming down the side of the rock wall.

In dry summer weather, the falls are only a trickle. But if you manage to visit after a rainy period, you can really see it flowing. This is a great spot to visit in Spring, when it’s rainier and not as hot.

 

      

   

I hope you’re all blessed with friends who will dance under waterfalls with you.

  

View of the creek as it flowed away from the falls.

Disclaimer: Some of these were taken on a cell phone in 2016, so they aren’t up to my normal dslr quality.

Rocky Bluffs

Rocky Bluffs

DSC_0145e2

Rocky Bluffs Trail is a 1.8 mile loop trail featuring two waterfalls in heavy rainfall. A shortcut trail turns the loop into less than a mile. The trail is located on the East side of Devil’s Kitchen Lake, past the spillway on Tacoma Road. The trail head has a small parking lot that can get full during the popular hiking times.

This is one of the better maintained trails in Southern Illinois. It features foot bridges, stairs, benches, and clear trails. The trail head has two paths. The left takes you to the bottom of the large waterfall, the right takes you to the top. The second cascade is found by following the right trail to where the shortcut trail begins. Both of the waterfalls only flow during heavy rainfalls. I have gone the day after a big rain and they have already dried up.

Even without the waterfalls, however, this is a worthy hiking spot. The trail to the right goes over the top of the first waterfall and then follows a path through the woods. Eventually the path loops to the left. Make sure to pay attention to the signage. It intersects with a trail called Wild Turkey Trail that does not lead back to the parking lot.

DSC_0118c2  DSC_0161c2

The trail follows the top of the hill until turning again left to start your descent. On the way down, the trail has several switchbacks. From the top you can see a series of footbridges, but you don’t reach them til about half way down. This section of this trail offers a pretty view of the woods and Grassy Creek.

  DSC_0179c2  DSC_0162c2  DSC_0168c2

  DSC_0201c2  DSC_0203c2  DSC_0192c2  

For the last half of the trail, the path meanders between Grassy Creek and a set of bluffs. The bluffs have beautiful crevasses and layers in their formation.

DSC_0243c2

DSC_0259c2  DSC_0262c2

DSC_0268c2  DSC_0270c2

After the bluffs, you reach the base of the waterfall. The stairs on the far side take you back to the parking lot.

DSC_0295C2  DSC_0289c2

DSC_0305c2  DSC_0299c2

This trail is fantastic when there’s been heavy rain, but still worth it to see the bluffs and creek. In the Spring, this area is known for its wildflowers. In a wet cold winter, the waterfall can turn into a frozen sculpture of icicles.

To see the waterfall in heavy rain check out this post.

Ferne Clyffe Bork’s Falls

Ferne Clyffe Bork’s Falls

 “There is a hidden message in every waterfall. It says, if you are flexible, falling will not hurt you!”  – Mehmet Murat Ildan

Ferne Clyffe is a lot bigger state park than I originally thought. There are in fact 3 separate parts of Ferne Clyffe as shown on the map from the Department of Natural Resources website.

Ferne Clyffe Map

On previous trips (like here and here) I had always focused on the right section of Ferne Clyffe, as I think most visitors do. There’s not even a sign saying “Ferne Clyffe ->” for the middle section. But I was determined to go water fall hunting as all the snow was melting. After poking around online, I found some talk of Bork’s Falls, another waterfall in Ferne Clyffe located in the middle section.

It was not easy to get to. The melting snow made Regent Lane a hilly one lane road of mud and ice. Bork’s Falls actually flows straight across Regent Lane. I’m sure at times it’s much lower, but all the melting snow made it about half a foot deep in some sections. We parked on Regent Lane, on the East side of Bork’s Falls and rock hopped across the stream.

DSC_0003c2  DSC_0011c2

DSC_0020c2  DSC_0030c2

After exploring on top of the waterfall for a little bit, we kept walking west on Regent Ln, in hopes of finding Trail 18, our original destination. If I had one piece of feedback for the Illinois DNR about Ferne Clyffe, it’s put up signs. If the trails on the map are numbered, put some numbers up on the trails! Basically nothing but the main area is labeled in the park and everywhere we go we say “I guess it’s this one.” So for this trip we are assuming we found Trail 18. The trail head is just around the curve on Regent Lane with signs talking about native trees and cleaning your boots before entering.
DSC_0034c2

The trail itself wasn’t a bad hike and it would be easy if not for the slick snow and mud. We walked down the trail for about quarter of a mile before it crosses a large opening. Instead of continuing across the side of the opening, which is heading away from the Falls, we double backed this time following the canyon floor and the river. After all, the point of our trip was waterfall hunting.

DSC_0035c2  DSC_0043c2

  DSC_0047c2  DSC_0056c4

DSC_0061c2  DSC_0063c2  DSC_0065c3

The walk along the river was also pretty easy, until the trail we were following ended. Then we had to cross the river and pick up on the other side. More rock hopping! Luckily no one fell in.

DSC_0079c2  DSC_0083c2

The trail on the east side of the river took us past some gorgeous frozen waterfalls. I love them just as much as I love flowing waterfalls.

DSC_0086c3  DSC_0095c2  DSC_0100c2DSC_0109c2

I heard the waterfall before I saw it again. Bork’s Falls is 30-40 feet high with a wading pool beneath it.

 DSC_0134c2  DSC_0112c2  DSC_0123c3

Finally we crossed the river again and hiked up the side of the ridge to get out. It was a great hike! A perfect cure for my wonderlust that has been building over our snowy cold past few weeks. I can’t wait to go back when the trees have leaves.

DSC_0120c2

Ferne Clyffe Happy Hollow

Ferne Clyffe Happy Hollow

DSC_0041c8b

Looks can be deceiving and maps can be hard to read. For our three-year anniversary, Donovan and I rented a cabin nearby Carbondale. It was “dog-friendly” but we wanted to tired Chiba out a bit before going there. We drove to nearby Ferne Clyffe and decided to try out some of the trails we’d never been on before.

Ferne Clyffe Wanted To Do blue

Here’s part of the Ferne Clyffe map. The red line is the trail I thought we were going to do, but it turns out that where the green circle is, the trails aren’t connected! So we ended up doing something more like the blue trail. This involved walking through the woods instead of on paths multiple times and several more miles and hours than we estimated. The trails we were on are called Happy Hollows trails and make up an 8 mile horse trail. We probably only did 6-7 of the 8 miles, thanks to some “short-cuts.” I wouldn’t recommend this during summer. Horse trails are awful for bugs! But the pine trees and mossy bluffs made the scenery interesting for a long winter hike.

DSC_0013c2  DSC_0015c2

DSC_0025c2  DSC_0018c2  DSC_0027c2

DSC_0041c3b  DSC_0046c2  DSC_0056c2

We hiked through a lot of forest and pine forest.

DSC_0060c2  DSC_0067c2  DSC_0070c2

DSC_0073c2  DSC_0079c2

Eventually coming to a gorgeous area with mossy bluffs and frozen water drippings.

DSC_0086c2

THEN! We stumbled upon the hidden Natural Bridge of Ferne Clyffe. It’s not actually hidden, but it’s in a very remote area of the park on the horse trail. I had read about it, but even the two blogs that brought it up, didn’t say where it was located in the park. Honestly, I can’t tell you where exactly either (we were super lost when we found it), but somewhere right around this yellow star on the map:

Ferne Clyffe Natural Bridge

DSC_0084c2  DSC_0088c2  DSC_0090c2 DSC_0098c2 DSC_0099c2

Right around the bridge is where we started to realize we were a lot more lost than originally realized and had gone a lot further than originally planned. Donovan turned google maps on his phone and it showed us WAY FAR AWAY from the Ferne Clyffe road. So we abandoned the trail and walked down hill toward the road. Eventually we found the other side of the trail loop and followed it almost back. Except google maps showed us right down the hill from the road back to our car, so we once again abandoned trail to take a short cut back.

DSC_0101c2 DSC_0103c2

It wasn’t what we planned for our anniversary, but we spent time doing something we love with the people we love. I told Donovan he could be the map reader next time 😉