We used John Voigt’s trail guide and found it indispensable. We also found Jeff Wegerson’s maps and GPS files extremely useful. They were originally published on the Chicago Backpacker’s Meetup page, but that has since been disbanded. I am reprinting them here with Jeff’s permission. Between the three, we got lost a lot less often than we would have otherwise! We printed the maps on waterproof paper, which was indispensable and strongly recommended.

Get the maps and GPS files here

We encourage people to buck tradition and hike from Grand Tower to Elizabethtown. While the Devil’s Backbone Campground folk are lovely people, the area itself is uninspiring and has nowhere to hang a hammock. We also found the west end of the trail to be the most beautiful and it affirmed our desire to finish the entire trail. Best ever, ending in E-Town lands you smack dab in front of the famous catfish restaurant, which is an excellent way to celebrate a triumphant hike. There are two delightful bed and breakfasts in Elizabethtown where you can take a break before heading home. We can see no reason not to hike West to East.

Read the Blog:
River to River Intro
Trail Running Shoes
Don’t Bug Me
We are Hammock Campers
Eating On the Trail
Blogging on the Trail

Hiking days were all in June of 2014
Day 1 – Devil’s Backbone Park to Godwin West Trailhead
Day 2 – Godwin West Trailhead to Broken Wheel Ranch
Day 3 – Broken Wheel Ranch to Cedar Lake Spillway
Day 4 – Cedar Lake Spillway to Giant City Lodge
Day 5 – Giant City Lodge to Home
Day 6 – Home to Shawnee Canopy Tours to Giant City
Day 7 – Giant City State Park to Crab Orchard
Day 8 – Crab Orchard to Panthers Den
Day 9 – Panthers Den to Bork’s Falls
Day 10 – Bork’s Falls to Fern Clyffe Campground
Day 11 – Fern Clyffe Campground to just before Dutchman Lake
Day 12 – Dutchman Lake to Max Creek
Day 13 – Max Creek to 2 miles before pictographs
Day 14 – Before pictographs to before Tin Whistle Tunnel
Day 15 – Tin Whistle Tunnel To Bay Creek Ranch
Day 16 – Bay Creek Ranch to Petticoat Junction
Day 17 – Petticoat Junction to Bowed Tree Crossing
Day 18 – Bowed Tree Crossing to Little Lusk Creek
Day 19 – Little Lusk Creek to One Horse Gap
Day 20 – One Horse Gap to nearly Herod
Day 21 – Herod to Garden of the Gods
Day 22 – Garden of the Gods campground to High Knob Campground
Day 23 – High Knob Campground to wilderness before E-town
Day 24 – Elizabethtown wilderness to Rose Hotel
Day 25 – Elizabethtown to Home