Shotgun creek flows southeast into the Mohawk Valley, not far from the town of Marcola. As the story goes, one day many, many, many years ago, a young man was out hunting and forgot his shotgun along a creek. He had to go back to get it, thus giving this creek its name. Fast forward to today and it is now home to an enjoyable recreation site operated by the BLM.
I visited the Shotgun Creek Recreation Site for the first time in mid-August, when we met friends there for a hike. It turns out, this is a great place for a casual walk/hike.
We found that several loop trails of varying lengths leave from the main parking area. This let us pick a route that fit our time and interests. We linked together two hikes, for roughly a 4 mile jaunt through the woods. It was peaceful, relaxing, and an enjoyable place to be on a warm summer afternoon. I think it would also be great place to hike in the spring when the wildflowers are in bloom, or perhaps in the fall on a crisp day.
Besides the hiking trails, the day we visited, families were enjoying the swimming hole and a wedding occupied one of the two large shelters. A ball field, volleyball court, playground, and picnicking sites are also available — Shotgun Creek has a lot to offer.
To be honest, I had sort-of been avoiding Shotgun Creek because I thought it would be too busy for my tastes. And, the weekend before our hike, the day-use area had been closed because two large gatherings were scheduled at the shelters. However, the day we visited it never felt too crowded and during our time on the trails we only cross paths with two other groups.
Shotgun Creek is almost an hours drive from Cottage Grove, north of Springfield and Marcola. (Here’s a nice brochure about the area: https://www.blm.gov/or/resources/recreation/files/brochures/Shotgun_Creek.pdf.) If you go, note that the trail markers don’t always carry the same names as what you’ll find on the maps.
I don’t think I’ve ever been to Marcola before, so it was a fun drive and you’ll have a chance to see the Earnest Covered Bridge on the way.