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Old 02-27-2013, 01:43 PM   #1
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Default Bell smith Springs...Shawnee National forest

BELL SMITH SPRINGS: Shawnee national forest
Bell smith Springs...Shawnee National forest-p1010838-bell-smith-springs.jpg
Eight miles of trails lead you through strange and wonderful rock formations.
Bell smith Springs...Shawnee National forest-p1010841.jpg
A backward glance shows the moderate to difficult trail leading down into the canyon.
Bell smith Springs...Shawnee National forest-p1010844.jpg
Take careful notice of your surroundings before continuing on!
Bell smith Springs...Shawnee National forest-p1010854.jpg
Once you reach the base of the canyon, there weren't any signs to point the way to the highlight of the area....The natural rock bridge!
We choose to go to the left towards a HUGE boulder laying in the clear, rocky stream ahead. I can't recall the proper name given to this boulder but it was called something like the great ship...
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Old 02-27-2013, 02:08 PM   #2
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Bell smith Springs...Shawnee National forest-p1010848.jpg
One of many shelter caves alongside the stream.
Bell smith Springs...Shawnee National forest-p1010849.jpg
What a treasure to find simple little reminders of what life must have been like way back when!
Bell smith Springs...Shawnee National forest-p1010839.jpg
Sands of time....
Bell smith Springs...Shawnee National forest-p1010851.jpg
Pretty little raindrop patterns or possibly Ant lion traps...scattered about the shelter floor.

I whisper over to Equill. Hey, Hey Equill.....I see a couple of guys on the other side of the creek. Do you have your pepper spray handy????
After watching them for a while behind some brush we decide it would be ok to converse with them..They're touring the area same as we!

We try to communicate with them but neither one of us can tell what they are trying to relay to our somewhat deaf ears....
So we hop from rock to rock to cross the creek to ask them where the heck the natural bridge is.
Bell smith Springs...Shawnee National forest-p1010857.jpg
They point us towards an unusually green outcropping and tell us it's thataway. QUITE a ways thataway.....
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Old 03-01-2013, 12:31 PM   #3
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Bell smith Springs...Shawnee National forest-p1010860.jpg
WOW Green.... REALLY green moss takes over the more shaded and moist areas.
Bell smith Springs...Shawnee National forest-p1010864.jpg
Looking up the great canyon walls makes one feel oh so small.
Bell smith Springs...Shawnee National forest-p1010862.jpg
Like a row of teeth set into a jaw....tiny little rocks embedded along the base brings us back into perspective.
Bell smith Springs...Shawnee National forest-p1010878-highest-natural-bridge.jpg
THERE it is! There it is, there it is. The highest "natural" bridge!
As the stream below draws our attention we ALMOST walked right on past it.
Bell smith Springs...Shawnee National forest-p1010879-125-long-arch.jpg
Looming above some 125 feet long!
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Old 03-01-2013, 01:41 PM   #4
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WOW they weren't kidding when they had said the natural bridge was a ways in....
Bell smith Springs...Shawnee National forest-dscf7457.jpg
We kept on following the trail in hopes it would SOON make a homeward loop back to the parking area.
Bell smith Springs...Shawnee National forest-p1010882-lost-paradise.jpg
We walked, and we walked, and we walked, until we met up with this well kept sign. Boulder whatever. 1-1/4th miles.
Equill makes a turn and starts heading on down the path....I yell out, "WAIT let me check the maps before we move on. Get back here.
Look at this! "We're here, and THIS is the way we want to go. Not THAT way, it leads us FURTHER away from our car.
Bell smith Springs...Shawnee National forest-p1010883.jpg
We continue on, following the original trail...It's getting smaller and smaller and smaller so before we loose it entirely we turn around to head Alllllllllllllll the way back. Following the less traveled route along the stream, we take notice of one heck of a hollow at the base of a set of trees. We pause for a photo shoot.

Not giving it one bit of a thought (that there might be poisonous snakes curled up inside) I crawl into its massive belly. Moist damp earthly scents surround me. Dark thick masses of spider webs loom above swaying playfully in a breeze.

I envision myself being caught in a rainstorm.... How comfy and cozy something like that would be in a time of need.
Equill could you please send me a few shots of myself inside of its base....via E-mail?
Bell smith Springs...Shawnee National forest-p1010886-our-way-out...jpg
Thank goodness we had taken note of a stepping stone path along the way crossing the stream below.
As we came upon it, said to Equill...."THAT is our shortcut out! I know exactly how it gets us to the car"..."Are you sure?" "YES, We must cross!"
So one tipsy step after the next we hop our way from the sometime almost tooooo far stretched rocks to the next until we reach the other side.
Bell smith Springs...Shawnee National forest-p1010887-devils-backbone.jpg
Ooooo there it is! Just before the parking lot....Lay the Devils backbone!

All in all I really enjoyed the area but if anyone intends upon going there, "Make yourself a set of maps of the area!"
There's NO way you'd find the highlights on your own much less know which way to go when and IF you notice any of the poorly kept signs.
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Old 03-01-2013, 04:05 PM   #5
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Lovely descriptions of your hike. What a beautiful area. My favorite photo....
Green Moss on Rocks
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Old 03-05-2013, 06:46 PM   #6
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Thank you Booboo
It's the wonder of what's around the next bend that keeps the interest.
Rocks, boulders, canyons and streams are a pure joy to behold.
We've only flat land here but the forests and streams are gorgeous!
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Old 03-06-2013, 12:45 PM   #7
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Lets see what Burden falls has to offer... Burden falls Shawnee national park
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Old 03-07-2013, 05:13 PM   #8
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For those of us who are geographically challenged, where is Shawnee National Forest?
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Old 03-07-2013, 05:23 PM   #9
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For those of us who are geographically challenged, where is Shawnee National Forest?
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Old 03-11-2013, 06:11 PM   #10
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Shawnee national forest is in Southern Illinois. Shawnee National Forest - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

MORE trails in the Shawnee area here: Shawnee National Forest in Southern IL

And here: Shawnee National Forest, Rim Rock Trail
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