Well, that's what I get for talking smack about the Shawnee National Forest not being as good as Red River Gorge in Kentucky. The next day I went over to Bell Smith Springs Recreation Area and discovered a section that looks incredibly like it!
Just down the road from the trailhead is the Red Bud Campground, which doesn't open until March 15th. Some research leads me to conclude that spring wildflowers start in Shawnee National Forest at that time, so pack up your tent and head out this way! I have other plans for this spring, but if I get a chance to come down this way again I will want to camp there. I found a list of wildflower hikes for spring and summer that will be helpful when I'm ready to come down this way again. Sites at Red Bud are primitive with no showers or dump station, but what do you expect for $10?
Well, you know I couldn't peer down into that ravine and not go have a closer look. Luckily there were stairs.
At the bottom of the stairs was a large rock shelter that probably kept native cool in the summer and dry when it rained.
I guess the first thing I'll have to pack on my return trip is a pair of water sandals to make that crossing! Toward the other shore the water looked like it would be at least knee deep and a test with my fingertips ascertained that even though the air temperature was climbing the stream was still icy.
Unable to cross, I settled for taking a few moments to enjoy the serenity instead.
However, the point of this trip was to get exercise so back up out of the little canyon I went, legs quivering in protest. I wandered around above for a bit and then returned to my car because I wanted to save further exploration of this spot for another day.
Bell Smith Springs Road is in need of some new gravel, watch out for the potholes and mud! Near the beginning of the road is Griffin Cemetery where about 2 dozen Griffins are buried going back to the 1800's. Perhaps not interesting to most folks, but a curiosity to me since my mother's maiden name is Griffin. I doubt these pioneers came from Newfoundland though!
Before I ended up at Bell Smith Springs I explored a waterfall 3 miles away which I'll share in my next post.