Get your hiking shoes on and bring plenty of water because we're hitting the trail! Tonight we begin another season of Cruisin' Illinois along the historic "River-to-River Trail."

The 176-mile journey takes you through the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois. It begins on the Ohio River, snaking it's way westward to the "Devil's Backbone" on the Mississippi. Leading the way is your trail guide, Julian Crews.

It's as ancient as the water, a path leading to old-growth forest and bluffs that are 400-million years old.

"Originally it was probably a wild animal trail," said Eric Johnson, leader of the River-to-River Trail Society. "Indians started following it and early pioneers followed it."

Johnson said on the Ohio River the place to start is Elizabethtown, especially for families.

"You can buy supplies," John O'Dell of the River-to-River Trail Society said. "You can find parking so much easier and Friendly people."

Within minutes you're in the woods, hiking beneath the canopy of the Shawnee Hills.

The rock opens before your eyes allowing you to pass through sandstone walls. Down the trail you find hundred-year-old cabins. I've brought my family, wife, Terry, daughter, Julia and son Tony, to feel the wildness of this place ... with Buzzards ... roosting in trees ... and Snapping Turtles below.

If you look carefully you'll also see faces in the forest. Mother Nature is the artist behind the 10--foot-tall "Stone Face" staring out over Saline County.

Trail veterans say it's rare to spot poisonous snakes unless you stray off the main path. But on the western edge of the Shawnee National Forest, in the swamps near the Mississippi River, you'll come across Snake Road. Find out more on the Cruisin' Illinois Web Special.

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River-to-River Trail Society

How to Order a River to River Trail Guide

We have tried various options for mailing the trail guide to trail users. At one time, we allowed people to order the guide over the telephone and hoped they paid. About 90% didn't. We now require that you send a check or money order for $23 written to the River to River Trail Society which takes care of the book ($20) and the postage and handling ($3).

You also receive a one year membership entitling you to receive the newsletter for a year. Actually we are a trail user organization but we advocate hiking and outdoor activity. The trail guide is our source of income and the money is used to defray organizational costs. There are no salaries, we are all volunteers.

Normally, we receive the book one day and ship it out the next. Order from:

River to River Trail Society
1142 Winkleman Road
Harrisburg, Illinois, 62946
618-252-6789
www.Rivertorivertrail.com


There are some stores that have the Book like, Shawnee Trails, Packlite, the Forest Service Headquarters in Harrisburg, Hoopers in Paducah, and the Champaign Surplus in Urbana/Champaign.

Horseback Trail Guide Service Cabins & Lodging Shawnee National Forest

U-S Forestry Service (618) 253-7114

Illinois Bureau of Tourism (IBOT)

www.enjoyillinois.com