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Hiking in Southern Illinois

Program Number: 13085RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/13/2013 - 10/18/2013; 9/7/2014 - 9/12/2014; 10/12/2014 - 10/17/2014; 3/15/2015 - 3/20/2015; 3/29/2015 - 4/3/2015;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Ozark, Illinois
Price starting at: $634.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Walking/Hiking; National Parks Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 14; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

On an extraordinary outdoor adventure in the hidden gem of Southern Illinois, explore deep canyons, crystal-clear springs and waterfalls bursting into sapphire pools. Learn about the area’s prehistoric cultural history and observe wildlife including white-tail deer, wild turkeys, raccoons, foxes and bald eagles. Learn about the diversity of the region — oak-hickory hardwood forests, sandstone barrens and the northernmost cypress swamp in North America — and hike to the highest free-falling waterfall in the state.




Highlights

• Hike to one of the highest points in the Shawnee Hills and take in a sweeping view from atop a retired Forest Service fire lookout tower.
• Hike a five-mile section of the beautiful River to River trail, which runs from Devil's Backbone Park on the Mississippi River to Battery Rock Park on the Ohio River.
• Explore the Heron Pond floating board walk and peek inside the "Winnie the Pooh Tree," a hollowed 1,000-year-old bald cypress tree.



Activity Particulars

Hiking up to five miles a day; hikes become more difficult as week goes on.



Coordinated by Camp Ondessonk, a Catholic retreat center.




Ozark

Located in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest, which extends over 270,000 acres, Ozark offers proximity to the edge of a glaciated area, which provides a diversity of flora and fauna and unique geologic features. Ozark is also located within one hour of the Trail of Tears route, which is part of the National Park Service.



Accommodations
Lodge with private baths, bunk beds (lower bunks only) and large deck overlooking rolling pasture land.
Meals and Lodgings
   St. Noel Center at Camp Ondessonk
  Ozark, IL 5 nights
 St. Noel Center at Camp Ondessonk
Type: Conference Center
  Contact info: 3760 Ondessonk Road
Ozark, IL 62972 USA
phone: 618-695-2489
web: www.ondessonk.com
  Facility amenities: Walking trails, large deck for relaxing.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Additional nights prior: $20.50 per night per person. Please call to ensure availability.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: $20.50 per night per person. Please call to ensure availability.
  Check out time: 10:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Registration 3:00-5:00 PM. You will be staying at St. Noel Center at Camp Ondessonk that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends at 10:00 AM. You will be staying at St. Noel Center at Camp Ondessonk the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. Completed health form and liability release form returned to Program Coordinator prior to arrival. Valid photo ID such as driver's license.
  Parking availability:
Free on-site parking for duration of program.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Ozark, IL
  Nearest city or town:  Marion, Illinois
  Nearest highway: Hwy 45
  Nearest airport:  Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL), St. Louis, MO.
  From End of Program
  Location: Ozark, IL
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details
 

Carbondale, IL

 

From Train Station

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Camp Ondessonk
phone: 618-695-2489
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$20
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

approx. 1 hour 

   

With advance notice of at least 10 days, Camp Ondessonk will provide van transportation to and from Carbondale for $20 per passenger each way.

 

Marion, IL

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Camp Ondessonk
phone: 618-695-2489
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$15
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

35 minutes 

   

With advance notice of at least 10 days, Camp Ondessonk will provide van transportation to and from Marion for $15 per passenger each way.

 

Paduchah, KY

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Camp Ondessonk
phone: 618-695-2489
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$20
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

approx. 1 hour 

   

With advance notice of at least 10 days, Camp Ondessonk will provide van transportation to and from Paducah for $20 per passenger each way.

 

St. Louis, MO

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
BART Transportation
phone: 800-284-2278
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

prices may vary
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

2 1/2 hours 

   

BART Transportation is a commercial van service available to participants who choose to fly into St. Louis, MO. Bart can shuttle participants to Marion, IL. You will be dropped off at the Williamson County Airport in Marion. With advance notice of at least 10 days, Camp Ondessonk will provide van transportation to and from Marion, IL for $15 per way as a courtesy to our guests. They are also available online at www.bartshuttle.com/

 
Driving Directions
  East Take I-64 West to I-57 South to I-24 to Tunnel Hill exit. Turn left onto Tunnel Hill to Hwy 45. Turn left onto Hwy 45 North to Ozark Road (about 7 miles). Turn right onto Ozark Road to Ondessonk Road (about 1/2 mile). Turn right onto Ondessonk Road to St. Noel Center.
  North Take I-57 South to I-24 to Tunnel Hill exit. Turn left onto Tunnel Hill to Hwy 45. Turn left onto Hwy 45 North to Ozark Road (about 7 miles). Turn right onto Ozark Road to Ondessonk Road (about 1/2 mile). Turn right onto Ondessonk Road to St. Noel Center.
  South Take I-24 to Tunnel Hill exit. Turn right onto Tunnel Hill to Hwy 45. Turn left onto Hwy 45 North to Ozark Road (about 7 miles). Turn right onto Ozark Road to Ondessonk Road (about 1/2 mile). Turn right onto Ondessonk Road to St. Noel Center.
  West Take I-64 East to I-57 South to I-24 to Tunnel Hill exit. Turn left onto Tunnel Hill to Hwy 45. Turn left onto Hwy 45 North to Ozark Road (about 7 miles). Turn right onto Ozark Road to Ondessonk Road (about 1/2 mile). Turn right onto Ondessonk Road to St. Noel Center.
Equipment Requirements: Hard soled, closed toe hiking boots. Prefer not "new" boots. Rain gear. Comfortable clothes, they will get dusty/muddy. Water bottle/canteen.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrival and check in/Welcome and Orientation
(Sunday, October 13)
   
 Afternoon: Welcome to Camp Ondessonk! Your guides for the week will be available at the St. Noel Center to assist you with check in and show you to your room. After moving in, take some time to relax in the fresh air on our spacious deck overlooking Ondessonk's sprawling pasture lands. Enjoy the stunning sight of our 82-horse herd as they graze away the evening hours. Or, feel free to walk around and get a preview of the adventure to come! Take a sneak peak of Camp Ondessonk's Road Scholar programs on YouTube. www.youtube.com/user/CampOndessonk#p/u/15/HxnSmmv-6aU Just copy and paste the link in your browser.
 Dinner: Dinner served family-style in the St. Noel Center dining area.
 Evening: An opportunity to start getting to know the individuals you will be adventuring with this week. Be prepared to laugh and to share a little bit about yourself as we begin forming our trail group!
   
Accommodations: St. Noel Center at Camp Ondessonk
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Welcome to the Shawnee National Forest!/Hike
(Monday, October 14)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast will be served family-style in the St. Noel retreat center's dining area. A warm start to a great day!
 Morning: Our first day on trail will be spent hiking on Camp Ondessonk's trail systems, giving you a taste of the geological formations that make Southern Illinois such a hidden gem. The morning will see us experiencing the East side of our property, visiting the highest free-falling water fall in the state of Illinois and exploring some of the intriguing sandstone formations unique to this area.
 Lunch: We will be hiking to a picnic-style lunch served in the out-of-doors under a pavilion overlooking one of our many small lakes. A great way to recharge our energy before hitting the trail once more.
 Afternoon: Once back on trail, we will head towards an ox-bow lake surrounding a sandstone monolith, once the site of a Native American stone fort from the Woodland Indian period. Upon returning to the St. Noel Center, there will be some down time to clean up and allowing for an opportunity to visit with fellow Participants before dinner is served.
 Dinner: A warm and hearty meal will be served family-style in the St. Noel Center's dining area. Dessert to follow!
 Evening: Southern Illinois is unique on several different levels. From inland seas to that vast glaciation of ice ages past, several prehistoric occurrences impacted and shaped the geology of this area. Learn how this geology, and the convergence of several different natural divisions, allows for the astonishing plant and animal combinations found in this area. Cacti growing within a hundred feet of a moist oak-hickory forest? Southern cypress swamps in Illinois? Join us after dinner to find out more!
   
Accommodations: St. Noel Center at Camp Ondessonk
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Some Must-See locations in the Shawnee National Forest!/picnic lunch/Must-See locations in the Shawnee National Forest!/Dinner Served Family Style/Evening Program: Night Hike!
(Tuesday, October 15)
   
 Breakfast: A warm breakfast served family-style in the St. Noel Center dining area.
 Morning: Spend the morning exploring the trails, natural springs, and canyon systems of Bell Smith Springs, a National Natural Landmark. See a sand stone natural bridge, and a stone stair case built into the cliffs by the Civilian Conservation Corp (C.C.C.) during the Great Depression. You will certainly enjoy this local favorite!
 Lunch: Enjoy a picnic lunch while listening to the trickling of the spring fed waters of the Bell Smith Springs area.
 Afternoon: After lunch we will travel to one of the highest points in the Shawnee Hills to visit a retired Forest Service fire look-out tower, taking in the view of the sweeping National Forest land below. Before heading back to Camp for some down time, we will make a stop at Mill-stone Bluff, the sight of another Woodland Indian stone fort that was taken over by the people of the Missippian Culture (900-1500a.d.). Artifacts, foundations, and rock art are still visible today!
 Dinner: Enjoy another delicious meal prepared fresh by our talented food-service director and served family style in the St. Noel Center Dining Area.
 Evening: Join us in exploring the enchanting nocturnal world. Listen for the distant calls of Coyotes echoing up the canyon systems you had been hiking through during the daylight hours. Listen to the Great Horned Owls calling to their mates, or the Barred Owls squabbling over territory. See the starts like never before. A night hike through the Oak-Hickory forests of Southern Illinois is an experience not to forget!
   
Accommodations: St. Noel Center at Camp Ondessonk
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Cache River State Natural Area/picnic lunch/Cache River State Natural Area/A Favorite Camp Tradition: Cookout!/Evening Program: Campfire!
(Wednesday, October 16)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast served family-style in the St. Noel Center's dining area.
 Morning: The Coastal Plain natural division nudges just a ways into the southern tip of Illinois offering a rare opportunity to see the very northern-most tip of the reaches of southern swamps so characteristic of Mississippi and Louisiana. Join us on a walk through the Heron Pond floating board walk that winds through cypress and tupelo trees. Explore the natural and cultural history presentations in the state-of-the-art Cache River Wetlands visitor center. See the state champion cherry bark oak tree, and peek inside the "Winnie the Pooh Tree", a hollowed 1,000 year old bald cypress tree.
 Lunch: We will enjoy a picnic lunch at the Lower Cache River Access Area. Feel free to take an opportunity to view the Champion Bald Cypress Tree!
 Afternoon: After leaving the Cache River Wetlands Center we will visit the section 8 board walk to see the state champion water tupelo tree. The climate of Southern Illinois has been compared to some of the productive vineyard regions of France, and several successful local wineries have emerged over the past few decades. Group members will have the option to return to the St. Noel Center for some extended relaxation time or visit the Cache River Winery for a taste of local wine.
 Dinner: Enjoy a delicious Camp Ondessonk tradition! Our foil dinners will be prepared on a bed of hot coals. Burgers, fresh fixin's, and the works, all enjoyed in the fresh air of a crisp fall evening.
 Evening: Another Camp favorite: the campfire program. Songs, stories, and warm memories waiting to be made.
   
Accommodations: St. Noel Center at Camp Ondessonk
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: River to River Trail/Garden of the Gods/Reflections
(Thursday, October 17)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast served family-style in the St. Noel dining area
 Morning: The River to River trail follows the route of the American Heritage Trail through the southern tip of Illinois, running from Devil's Backbone park on the Mississippi River to Battery Rock park on the Ohio River. It is hiked extensively by backpackers and horse travelers alike. We will be exploring a five mile section of this popular hiking trail, enjoying the feeling that one only gets as the miles disappear under the boots, and the fresh forest air fills the lungs.
 Lunch: We will be enjoying lunch at a resting point along the trail. This spot can only truly be communicated once seen. The trail opens up along the ridge we will be traveling and offers up a sand stone outcropping with an unobstructed view of the valleys and hills below. Lunch never tasted so good.
 Afternoon: We will be leaving the trail at Garden of the Gods, the most popular outdoor attraction in Southern Illinois. Unique sandstone formations have been carved by wind and time, offering a playground for those who appreciate time to explore the natural things around them.
 Dinner: Dinner served family-style in the St. Noel dining area.
 Evening: An opportunity to reflect on time spent in the natural world, to share memories freshly made, and to recognize new trail companions who made the experience meaningful.
   
Accommodations: St. Noel Center at Camp Ondessonk
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Program Wrap Up/Departure
(Friday, October 18)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast served family-style in the St. Noel dining area.
 Morning: "We have not ceased from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." -T.S. Eliot. Thank you for joining Camp Ondessonk on this journey through Illinois' hidden gem.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


A Sand County Almanac


Author: Aldo Leopold


Description: Since his death in 1948, Aldo Leopold has been increasingly recognized as one of the indispensable figures of American environmentalism. A pioneering forester, sportsman, wildlife manager, and ecologist, he was also a gifted writer whose farsighted land ethic is proving increasingly relevant in our own time. Now, Leopold’s essential contributions to our literature––some hard-to-find or previously unpublished––are gathered in a single volume for the first time. Here is his classic A Sand County Almanac, hailed––with Thoreau’s Walden and Carson’s Silent Spring––as one of the main literary influences on the modern environmental movement. Published in 1949, it is still astonishing today: a vivid, firsthand, philosophical tour de force. Along with Sand County are more than fifty articles, essays, and lectures exploring the new complexities of ecological science and what we would now call environmental ethics. Leopold’s sharp-eyed, often humorous journals are illustrated here for the first time with his original photographs, drawings, and maps. Also unique to this collection is a selection of over 100 letters, most of them never before published, tracing his personal and professional evolution and his efforts to foster in others the love and sense of responsibility he felt for the land.



Field guide to Trees


Author: National Audubon Society


Description: Great field guide for trees in Southern Illinois



Illinois Wildflowers


Author: Don Kruz


Description: Color Photos and Descriptions of more than 400 flowers in "The Prairie State"





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