“A great 5+ mile run through some of the best country Southern Illinois has to offer.”
— Ed Glass
Cave · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
This is a great point-to-point run! It can also be done as an out-and-back, but you'll need legs! Some of the most spectacular views in the Shawnee are along this trail.
This run winds through the Garden of the Gods Wilderness, a designated wilderness area portion of the Shawnee National Forest. Starting out at the backpackers parking lot at the Garden of the Gods is a great option if you plan on dispersed camping as it is one of only a few places which allows overnight parking. The Hitchin Post Trailhead at the other end allows overnight parking as well. This is a great run that rewards runners almost the entire way.
The 001A alternate route starts about a mile in. There's a 4-way intersection on the trail. River to River Trail
(Trail #001) goes left and up a big hill. There is not a lot to see up that way. 108C takes you back to The Garden of the Gods observation parking area. But Trail #001A
pretty much goes straight ahead and down to a very cool creekside trail surrounded on both sides by bluff walls. Keep an eye on the right side for H-Rock.
There is also a very sweet camp spot right where the creek takes a sharp turn right and where Trail #152B
intersects. A few caves/rock shelters, bluffs, and a couple deeper pools in the creek are located in this area too. Hang a sharp left onto 152B to get back on the River to River (RtR) Trail from here.
When you get back on the RtR in about 0.25 miles, hang a right and head up the steep, rocky trail. It will wear you out, but the top is very rewarding. There are plenty of epic campsites/viewpoints along this bluff line to make the climb very worthwhile. You'll enjoy this section!
This section of the run keeps on giving even after you come down from the last big hill. There's still a lot to see until you reach the very last connector 001E or Gape Hollow Connector. This is just an old road bed, but it's graveled and it's SMOOTH! For me, this is a very welcomed end to a fairly strenuous run on rocky, hilly trails. Gape Hollow Trailhead Connector #001E
takes you right to the Hitchin Post Trailhead/parking lot.