From the Desk of the President:

Last Spring, we put out a survey with the intention of finding out how many people have bought property and moved to the Shawnee area and how many people use the local campgrounds

After some major flaws were fixed, mistakes made by me, the survey was completed by 673 people.  While I'm sure this is not the actual number of equestrians who do recreate in the Shawnee in any given year, it is what we have to work with.

Of those who answered the survey, there are 139 who have bought property and moved here, almost all specifically because of the Shawnee Forest.  There were 114 who said they were permanent campers at one of the campgrounds.  There are certainly more permanent campers than this number since several campgrounds have that many in their respective camps.

We have some directors who will be packing in gravel for trail maintenance in the Wilderness. The STC has not done this before but with willing participants we can do it. It is a very labor-intensive endeavor and we'll be working with the Forest Service on this type of project.

Our membership form is always included in the newsletter, dues are from Jan 1 – Dec 31.  The form is included for your convenience and for those who have not joined this year.

The bees have not been bad so far. Maybe it was all the rain we had early this spring, or maybe they just haven't grown in size enough to be a problem yet. Either way, may each of you have a great fall riding and stay safe, but have fun!

Happy tails,

Linda Sanders


The FS is expected to put out a preliminary proposal for adding mountain bikes to hiker/equestrian trails making some of them multi-purpose trails.  It is expected yet this fall.  At that time there will public meetings and a chance for the public to make comments.  The FS has stressed this will be just a starting point. 



Trigg Trailhead (aka Hitching Rail Trailhead) located 3 miles north of Simpson and is just south of Jack Davis property was expanded in April as a project between the Forest Service and STC.  The STC provided $5,000.00 worth of rock, McKinney's Western Store provided $500.00 towards the rock and the FS bought some too. The FS did the clearing of brush and trees and spreading of the gravel.

Because there were no grants involved the work was done quickly. It gives more parking for those who day ride. Jackson Falls - Bay Creek area and over to Gum Springs area can be accessed from this trailhead. The last photo is of the new north entrance that is larger and more accessible. We want to thank all who have made donations to the STC so that we could collaborate with the FS for this expansion and improvement. And a special thanks to Rick McKinney for his support.

The photo on the left is from the new north entrance which is larger and more easily accessed. The photo on the right is a view of the expanded trailhead from the south entrance that was not changed. It is a pull through area similar to Lusk Trailhead. Cars are to park closer to the road. Signage will be needed to help keep cars out of the trailer parking.


Volunteers for the STC loaded and spread gravel on the "boat" trail the last week of July.  We worked for 3 separate days spreading gravel in the wet places and creating water bars to help stop erosion.

Special thanks go to Ben & Patti Laubscher from Hayes Canyon Campground, even their four children helped by picking up rocks and moving them to wet areas so the rocks could be used as a base for the gravel. Aimee Robards, Cathy Jennings and Dave Sanders used their tractors loading gravel. Ben Laubscher brought his gravel wagon and spread rock.   Brent Lecher used the STC wagon to spread gravel. And special thanks to Grace, Harry, Emmy, & AJ. Laubscher for all their hard work.

This trail is on private property and connects the trail from Bowed Tree crossing up the hill to trails that go to Indian Kitchen. The landowner is very particular that people do not get off this trail and enter his fields, yard around his house or cut through his woods.

It is so important for riders to respect all private property. Without this use of this particular trail, the option of making a shorter loop to Indian Kitchen would be gone.

tractor dumping rocks

kids gathering rocks


As part of our cost share agreement with the Forest Service, we have mowed Franks tract again. This winter it will need more work to cut back the autumn olive, it takes very little time for this stuff to take over an area. Any member who wants to help, once the bugs are gone, let Linda Sanders know at 618-534-5048.


A National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance Grant was awarded to various groups involved with the River to River Trail in the Shawnee National Forest for $18,000+. Having a variety of user groups applying for a grant makes the odds of receiving a grant much higher.

This grant for the River to River Trail will be used as a funding vehicle to get a better map, improve signage and on ground maintenance. The trail is in very poor shape in some areas, needs to be rerouted in some areas, and is going back to nature in many areas. The main focus of the grant will be new signage across the forest. Once the new signage is complete, then the STC will be responsible for getting the old signs taken down especially where the trail has been rerouted. Having multiple trails marked has caused so much confusion over the years for users.

Friends of Shawnee, Shawnee Trail Conservancy, River to River Trail Society, and Illinois Ozark Tours will be providing cash in kind as part of this grant.

In-kind voluntary hours will be provided by Friends of Shawnee, STC, Camp Odnessonk CITs. Show Me Backcountry Horsemen, River to River Trail Society, Associated Saddle Clubs, Greencorps Chicago, Americorps, Wilderness Trail Crew Interns, Giant City Park, Shawnee Backcountry Horsemen, SIUC Touch of Nature and a few others who had not been able to commit by the deadline for the grant application to have their names added.

On September 23, the STC will provide the animals needed for packing in gravel to a newly rerouted section west of Owl Bluff in the Lusk Creek Wilderness. The FS will provide volunteers to load the packs with the gravel.


The dam at Frank's Tract has been repaired. The trail now crosses the dam instead of going below it. The dam had been undercut by beavers at the overflow pipe and a large hole in the ground made it unsafe to cross. There was no way to know how much was undercut beneath what was visible. The FS was able to put this repair in their 2017 budget and the work was done by outside contractors very quickly.

Trails Unlimited will be working on the new trailheads at the Knights of the Golden Circle and Benham Ridge sometime during the month of September. Work will be done on the relocation of the trail 179 along Grand Pierre moving the trail from the edge of the creek up the hill. Along the north part, the creek has washed the trail either completely away or too close to ride without it collapsing.

The Hoosier Mule team from Indiana will be here again this year. Not sure what they will be working on but it will be in Lusk Creek Wilderness.


For several years now toys and decorations have been placed along certain trails.  Most have been concentrated in one particular area, but this idea has evidently grown.  Evidently people find them "fun" but leaving anything in the forest, whether beer cans or toys creates a negative image for equestrians.

Are people bored while riding?  What other reason is there for leaving toys in the forest?  Beer cans get left because people are too lazy to put them back in their saddle bags.

Please remember that each of us is sharing Shawnee not only with other equestrians but also with hikers and very soon mountain bikers. 

We have fought hard for over 20 years to keep our access to trails in the Shawnee, spent tens of thousands on legal fees.  We ended up with more trails because the Judge gave us more during the interim period before the trails were designated.  Putting "decorations" on the trails gives ammunition to the anti-equestrian trail users. They could present this evidence to the forest service to advocate trail closures to equestrians.  Please respect the Shawnee National Forest, it is federal land.

The Forest Service is aware that this is going on and disapproves.  Presently no action has been taken.  But as this trend progresses, it creates a black eye on all equestrians with the FS and other user groups, some who may not want equestrians on their trails. 



Guess where these photos were taken? All are located where they can be accessed by designated trails.

What trail is this pile of rocks found?
pile of stacked rocks

The trail this pile of rocks someone spent some effort to achieve is on Trail 185 east and north of High Knob Campground. There are other creative piles of rocks along this trail also. Unfortunately, there is a “toy” on the top of this one.


Linda Sanders, President

Julie Parnell, Director
cell - 618-499-3914

Kenny Wiseman, Vice-President

Sue Perina, Director

Anita Gallion, Secretary

Dave Scrivano, Director

Cathy Jennings, Treasurer

Lucy Walker, Director


Sandy Poletti

Loretta Wheeler, Director

Jack Flammang, Director

Terry Wheeler, Director

Gloria Heggy

Allissa Hollmann

The Shawnee Trail Conservancy is a grassroots nonprofit corporation which advocates multi-use of the Shawnee National Forest for recreational and sporting interests; yet, is dedicated to preserving and protecting its natural resources through proper trail maintenance, good trail signing, and education of trail, camping and hunting users to achieve a low environmental impact and wise usage management practices. Our mission is to keep the Shawnee available, now and in the future, to the public for its use and enjoyment in a responsible manner.

You may go to for information on the Shawnee Trail Conservancy and the issues that relate to recreating in the tailriding capitol of Illinois.

All memberships expire at the end of the year.  Please send in your membership dues or pay online by the beginning of the new year.

We now offer paying online at:

For us old fashioned folks, just mail us a check at: STC, PO Box 44, Eddyville, IL 62928

Click Here to Contact Us