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Last Update: April1, 2001


The area from Belleville to Carbondale is a relatively flat farming area divided by streams and rivers, and even though the scenery in the area is rather monotonous, there are hidden jewels to be found. 

Illinois Caverns is one such jewel. You are driving down a blacktop road with fields on both sides and in this area, a lot of sink holes, or circular depressions in the ground.  Some are filled with water some are not. Some are grass covered and some have stands of trees surrounding them. But at one point just a few hundred yards off the road on which you are traveling, lies a wooded sink hole that that will allow you to experience the mysteries of the inner earth. Miles of passageways, beautiful exotic cave formations that vary from massive forms almost 30 feet tall to tiny "Soda Straws" sometimes only a couple of inches long.  And the entrance to all this beauty and mystery is disguised by the ordinary look of the surrounding area farms.

Our special places do not have the visual dramatic presence of the Rocky Mountains, or commercial billboards announcing their wonders, therefore, many of these local treasures are relatively unknown. The waterfall at Randolph County Conservation area is found by only a few visitors, even though it is clearly marked on the brochures. And then there is Piney Hills Ravine, on the Randolph / Jackson County Line. This Ravine with it's waterfalls and Indian petroglyphs, has been said to be, "foot for foot, the best hiking trail in Southern Illinois." But because of its remoteness and lack of publicity, it is visited by a very few.

One of the purposes of making this hiking guide is to provide information on this type of site, the little known but special.


Editing Notes: Because many of us still live in the internet back-water, with dial-up connections instead of the newer, faster connections, I am again forced to subdivide the hiking guide. Many of the sections were exceeding 60 - 70K in size, and for us out here in the "Boonies," take an extended period of time to load. I have subdivided the area into the sections shown by the yellow buttons to the left, under the "Belleville to Carbondale button".