Otter Pond FSR 345A

Total Miles
0.4

Elevation

117.65 ft

Duration

0.5 Hours

Technical Rating

4

Moderate

Best Time

Summer, Fall

Trail Overview

The Otter Pond FSR 345A is a natural forestry road in the Mississippi Bluffs Sector of Shawnee National Forest. The trail is in a very ecologically preserved area and closes yearly during the winter (December 9th to May 9th). It features a quick dose of offroading, mixed with a lot of scenery, featuring the rock bluffs on the east side of the road, and the wetland ponds to the west, both of these being so close that you have to navigate around both in a vehicle. Trail features rock, washes, a water crossing, and off-camber water erosion along the road surface. The end of the trail features a little turnaround at the end, but no more than two vehicles should go to the end at once.

Photos of Otter Pond FSR 345A

Otter Pond FSR 345A
Otter Pond FSR 345A
Otter Pond FSR 345A

Difficulty

The difficulty of this road is surrounding the natural ascetics paired with minimal maintenance yielding a fun forestry road. It features a natural surface of rock, gravel, and dirt, and could feature mild mud if wet, it features heavy water erosion washes as deep as 12-18", off-camber leaning and ruts being as much as 18" difference from side to side, with mild inclines, tight treelines, loose rock, and at least a 12" deep water crossing at the edge of the wetlands. If picking wise lines the road can be mostly easy to navigate but features intermediate difficulty when driving over the heavy washes. The difficulty is amplified if conditions are wet.

History

The yearly migration involves the hibernation of the animals during the winter months in the bluffs. These animals then move to their feeding grounds in the swamp during the summer months. Herpetologists have reported that the main factor in triggering seasonal migration is ground temperature. This road was open to traffic year-round prior to 1972. This resulted in the death of many animals that were crossing the road. Consequently, the Forest Service decided to close a 2.5-mile segment of the road during the seasonal migration to protect the reptiles and amphibians. The road is now being closed for two months in the spring and fall to further ensure the protection of early or late migrating species. The number of animals protected by this action is unknown, however, far fewer reptiles and amphibians are found dead on the road. LaRue-Pine Hills/Otter Pond Research Natural Area (RNA) became our nation's 250th RNA in 1991. RNAs are permanently protected to maintain biological diversity and to provide places for research and monitoring of undisturbed natural areas. Info sourced from https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5106391.pdf

Technical Rating

4

Status Reports

Chris Menz
May 23, 2023
1999 Jeep Cherokee
Open
Normal
Dusty

Access Description

From Wolf Lake, IL at Illinois Route 3 and Main Street, at 37.50431, -89.43742, head north on Route 3 for 3.1 miles, make a right onto Larue Road, at 37.54472, -89.46206, drive 1.3 miles to the small roadside parking lot at the Snake Road gate, turn right here onto the FSR 345A entrance, at 37.54556, -89.43933, there will be a marker sign on the right, you are now on the trail.

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