66 Hikes Along Route 66

Gebhard Woods State Park in Morris, Illinois 

Don’t let the snow and cold slow you down. Hiking at Gebhard Woods State Park is a popular activity  on this 30-acre site. Located in Morris, this picturesque park is bordered on the south by the Illinois & Michigan Canal and to the north by Nettle Creek, which gently flows along the perimeter and through the park, adding to its natural beauty and abundance of wildlife. Stately old trees including walnut, oak, ash, maple, sycamore, hawthorn and cottonwood provide ample shade throughout the park. In the spring, trillium, bluebell, white trout lily, violets, wild ginger, phlox, toothwort and spring beauties are just a sample of the wildflowers that can be enjoyed by park visitors.​​​​
And Gebhard Woods is a footbridge away from the historic Illinois & Michigan Canal State Trail. This 61 mile trail on the old canal towpath is easy walking and gives access to unparalleled scenic and historic sights.  The trail is marked and has various wayside exhibits that describe canal era features encountered along the way.
The once Historic Route 66, of the most famous roads in the United States that ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona and ended  in Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covered a total of 2,448 miles.  It has always been iconic for roadside stops….dinners…antiquing…and many historical sites.  Although it longer exists, you can still “get your kicks” on the path it took through the United States on other highways and roads.  In this series, I will highlight the many places you can stop to explore nature along this route….focusing on spots in the Midwest.  Looking for more stops….check out this guide.


And here are a few other great resources.


America’s Best Day Hikes       Great Hiking Trails of the World

Robertsville State Park – Illinois — Planned Spontaneity

My goal for 2020 is to adventure more. Whether it is hiking, camping or just exploring, I want to do more of it in 2020. We recently took a drive to Robertsville State Park to check it out. This park is located along the Meramec River. It is a smaller park, but still beautiful in […]

via Robertsville State Park – Illinois — Planned Spontaneity

A Red-shouldered Hawk At The Celery Bog — Dave Wegiel Photography

Trapped Under Ice This red-shouldered hawk really did not mind my presence very much. It flew in with me being very close, and then didn’t mind that I was watching it. When it dove down to try and catch a meal though it picked something under the ice. It was very interesting watching the hawk […]

via A Red-shouldered Hawk At The Celery Bog — Dave Wegiel Photography

Brushy Creek Sunset — Jason Frels

Some awesome photography work by Jason!

On Monday morning, I grabbed my camera stuff and left for work early because I thought that I was going to go get a nice sunrise. While sitting bogged down in slow-motion traffic in Austin, I could see that there would be no real sunrise shoot so I headed on to work and got there […]

via Brushy Creek Sunset — Jason Frels

Rewilding through Birding


“Whether one goes to nature for truth, or for beauty, for knowledge or for relaxation, these things can be found in a yard in the city as well as a tropical jungle, for they exist in the common, simple, everyday things all about us, as well as the rare and exotic.”

~ Leonard Dubkin


A rewilding, brought about first through neglect and now through intentional human effort, is occurring on all over the world and certainly here in the Midwest. Over the years, I have discovered unique beauties on ambling adventures along the Wisconsin and Michigan Shoreline, and even in the heart the city…downtown Chicago.  At the Bird and Butterfly Sanctuary.

A bird lover and nature lovers Paradise.

Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary can be found by following Montrose Avenue east until crossing Lake Shore Drive and into Lincoln Park.  Visit the magic hedge, on the west side of the sanctuary, but stay on the trails as much as possible in order to not disturb the nesting and resting Birds. Make sure you take the path in One Direction and return in the opposite direction in order to navigate the whole area.

Don’t forget to walk down to the pier where you will see rare ducks,  loons, and possibly peregrine falcons.

Birding Magic

A small bird creeps out of a thicket and is greeted by flashing lights and muffled whispers. Welcome to the celebrity life of a bird along the “Magic Hedge.”

A small finger curling out into the lake, Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary can boast in having over 300 species recorded, including some of the rarest birds ever recorded in the state.  A small stretch of low-lying bushes and small trees on the west side of the sanctuary in particular have been a magnet for migrating songbirds and rarities.  Some would say that the hedge seems to bring birds in like magic.  The nickname for this spot is fitting: “The Magic Hedge.”

A definite must if you’re ever in the area!