Looking for some of the funnest and most scenic trails around Michigan. Copper Harbor is your spot. It is an all-season resort town in northeastern Keweenaw County, Michigan located on the Keweenaw Peninsula which juts out from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan into Lake Superior. Due to its natural environment and surroundings it is a popular tourist destination within the Great Lakes region.
One popular spot for visitors is Hunter’s Island which is the name of a non-hilly point running out from the west into Lake Superior. It was named for an early settler of the area named Mr. Hunter who owned a tract of land on what is now Hunter’s Point or Hunter’s Island. Situated at the opening of the harbor itself is the historic Copper Harbor Lighthouse built in 1866, replacing an earlier lighthouse made in 1849. It is only accessible via a short ride in a compact open vessel from the Copper Harbor marina. Exhibits inside the lighthouse museum cover both the lighthouse history along with the local shipwreck culture of the area.
Another popular site known as “the most beautiful road in Michigan” is the Brockway Mountain Drive that is an 8.8 mile route that follows the backbone of a 753-foot-high ridge between the towns of Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor and is the highest paved road between the Rocky Mountains to the west and the Allegheny Mountains to the east. Constructed during the 30’s, this very picturesque road offers stunning views of Lake Superior and Keweenaw Penisula as well as the archipelago of Isle Royale.
“In order to see birds, it is necessary to become park of the silence” – Robert Lund
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. 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.
The early interest in observing birds for their aesthetic rather than utilitarian (mainly food) value is traced to the late 18th century in the works of Gilbert White, Thomas Bewick, George Montagu and John Clare The study of birds and natural history in general became increasingly prevalent in Britain during the Victorian Era, often associated with collection, eggs and later skins being the artifacts of interest. Wealthy collectors made use of their contacts in the colonies to obtain specimens from around the world. It was only in the late 19th century that the call for bird protection began leading to the rising popularity of observations on living birds. The Audubon Society was started to protect birds from the growing trade in feathers in the United States while the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds began in Britain.
Bird watching will get your children to go outside. …
Bird watching allows for introspection and contemplation. …
Bird watching can improve cardiovascular health. …
Bird watching gives you an excuse to travel. …
Bird watching builds a sense of community. …
Bird watching quickens reflexes.
“I realized that if I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes” – Charles Lindbergh
Birding in North America was focused in the early and mid-20th century in the eastern seaboard region, and was influenced by the works of Ludlow Griscom and later Roger Tory Peterson. Bird Neighbors (1897) by Neltje Blanchan was an early birding book which sold over 250,000 copies. It was illustrated with color photographs of stuffed birds.
Here are some great resources if you like birding:
Theodore Roosevelt National Park is an American national park comprising three geographically separated areas of badlands in western North Dakota. The park was named for U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. It has three sections: the North Unit, the South Unit, and the Elkhorn Ranch Unit.
The park’s larger South Unit lies alongside Interstate 94 near Medora, North Dakota. The smaller North Unit is situated about 80 mi (130 km) north of the South Unit, on U.S. Route 85, just south of Watford City, North Dakota. Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch is located between the North and South units, approximately 20 mi (32 km) west of US 85 and Fairfield, North Dakota. The Little Missouri River flows through all three units of the park. The Maah Daah Hey Trail connects all three units.
Roosevelt first came to the North Dakota badlands to hunt bison in September 1883. During that first short trip, he got his bison and fell in love with the rugged lifestyle and the “perfect freedom” of the West. He invested $14,000 in the Maltese Cross Ranch, which was already being managed by Sylvane Ferris and Bill Merrifield seven miles south of Medora. That winter, Ferris and Merrifield built the Maltese Cross Cabin. After the death of both his wife and his mother on February 14, 1884, Teddy Roosevelt returned to his North Dakota ranch seeking solitude and time to heal. That summer, he started his second ranch, the Elkhorn Ranch, 35 miles north of Medora, which he hired two Maine woodsmen, Bill Sewall and Wilmot Dow, to operate. Teddy Roosevelt took great interest in his ranches and in hunting in the West, detailing his experiences in pieces published in eastern newspapers and magazines. He wrote three major works on his life in the West: Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail, Hunting Trips of a Ranchman and The Wilderness Hunter. His adventures in “the strenuous life” outdoors and the loss of his cattle in the starvation winter in 1886–1887 were influential in Theodore Roosevelt’s pursuit of conservation policies as President of the United States (1901–1909).
Both main units of the park have scenic drives, approximately 100 miles of foot and horse trails, wildlife viewing, and opportunities for back country hiking and camping. There are three developed campgrounds: Juniper Campground in the North Unit, Cottonwood Campground in the South Unit, and the Roundup Group Horse Campground in the South Unit.
One of the most popular attractions is wildlife viewing. The park is home to a wide variety of Great Plains wildlife including bison, coyotes, cougars, feral horses, badgers, elk, bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer and mule deer, prairie dogs, and at least 186 species of birds including golden eagles, sharp-tailed grouse, and wild turkeys. Bison may be dangerous and visitors are advised to view them from a distance. Bison, elk, and bighorn sheep have been successfully reintroduced to the park.
The scenery changes constantly in relationship with the seasons. The brown, dormant grass dominates from late summer through the winter, but explodes into green color in the early summer along with hundreds of species of flowering plants. Winter can be a beautiful scene as snow covers the sharp terrain of the badlands and locks the park into what Theodore Roosevelt called “an abode of iron desolation.
Plan to be surprised and awed at the spectacular natural features found here at Starved Rock in Illinois.
Surrounded by the flat, seemingly endless fields of Illinois farm country, a totally different topography is found within the park. Starved Rock was formed thousands of years ago by the melting of glaciers releasing torrents of water. As the water rushed downstream it eroded and stripped away everything in its path except the resistant St. Peter sandstone. It is that sandstone that formed the steep rock walls and the cool dark valleys of the eighteen canyons. When conditions are right cascades of falling water spill down into these gorges, creating the waterfalls so many come here to enjoy.
WATERFALLS Although you can technically see waterfalls in 14 of the 18 canyons, some of the most scenic waterfalls are found in St. Louis, French, Wildcat, Tonty, Ottawa and Kaskaskia canyons. The best times to see waterfalls are in the spring when the snow and ice melt or after a heavy rainfall.
ICEFALLS Winter brings a whole new life to the canyons. The freezing and melting that happens during this time of year creates amazing ice sculptures in the canyons. Make sure you come back in the winter to see an icefall – they are spectacular!
600 million years ago Northern Illinois was part of a broad upland that was undergoing extensive erosion. The erosion wore the land down to near sea level. Erosion that forms a near sea level surface is called a peneplain. This peneplain was submerged several times by sea water and several layers of sediment were laid on the surface. Starved Rock State Park was once covered with 3000-5000 feet of glacial ice on and off over a course of 700,000 years. Glacial ice can move forwards never backwards. When a glacier is said to be retreating, it is actually melting faster than it is moving forward. As glacial ice can only move forward, it picks up rocks and carries them in the ice. When the ice melts, these rock particles are dropped at the point of melting. All dropped rock material is called drift. Drift found at the point of melting is called till. Till is unsorted glacial drift. When the glacier is stagnant, the drift accumulates into a pile called an end moraine. After the glacier has retreated, it leaves a range of irregular hills which are the end moraine. The melt waters of the glacier were so great that they would accumulate behind the moraines and form vast lakes. The streams that drain these lakes were gigantic compared to today’s streams. The Illinois Valley was formed by one of these streams. 15,000 years ago during the Wisconsinan Glacial Age, the glacial meltwater of a large lake overtopped the Marseilles Moraine and formed Lake Ottawa behind the Farm Ridge Moraine that ran north to south along what we call Starved Rock State Park today. This lake drained when it overtopped the Farm Ridge Moraine cutting a channel that became the Illinois River. Repeated meltwater floods of the Kankakee Torrent poured through the channels cut through the Marseilles and Farm Ridge Moraines establishing the drainage for the Illinois, Fox, and Vermillion Rivers. This repeated drainage also cut the outcrops , overlooks, and 18 canyons that you see today.
Although a bit barren in January, Glacial Park Conservation Area offers 3,432 acres of recreation including a wide array of prairies, wetlands and savannas. There are over eight miles of hiking trails with a beautiful backdrop of hickory trees, oak trees. and wildflowers. It is the home for over 41 species of state endangered animals and plants. And a great spot for birding.
Trekking the Interpretive Nature Trail On this 2 mile trek, call the edge, you will search for owls, deer, wood ducks and blue birds. This “edge” offers the perfect combination of of both woodland and grassland which is exactly what these animals need. Many types of berries, nuts and seeds are available.
Trekking the Plant Community Interpretive Trial
This open woodland is a savanna, hosting plant both native and non native to the area. Some of the plants include bottlebrush grass, joe pye weed, and mayapple. The green plants here produce their own food by trapping the energy of the sun. They then support a wide array of organisms throughout the savanna. Here there is a very healthy ecosystem and therefore a vast biodiversity.
12,000 years ago glaciers were in this park. After leaving they left the land shaped into unique land forms and bringing rocks and till from Canada. Because of so much till, the bedrock was buried and after breaking down, plants were able to grow in this new fertile soil. This area then became of the top regions for agriculture.
Starved Rock State Park, an amazing area complete with hiking trails and waterfalls is located in Deerpark Township and LaSalle Counties in Illinois, sits along the south bank of the Illinois River.
Starved Rock is famous for its fascinating rock formations, which are mainly outcrops of St. Peter Sandstone. This sandstone began as a sheet of sand in clear, shallow water near the shore of a Paleozoic sea and consists of fine-to-medium-size, well-rounded quartz grains with frosted surfaces. The extent of these amazing formation span north–south from Minnesota to Arkansas and east–west from Illinois into Nebraska and South Dakota.
This sandstone is an Ordovician geological formation. This sandstone originated as a sheet of sand in clear, shallow water near the shore of a Paleozoic sea and consists of fine-to-medium-size, well-rounded quartz grains with frosted surfaces. The extent of the formation spans north–south from Minnesota to Arkansas and east–west from Illinois into Nebraska and South Dakota.
The sandstone, typically buried, is exposed in this area due to an anticline, a convex fold in underlying strata. This creates canyons and cliffs when streams cut across the anticline. The sandstone is pure and poorly cemented, making it workable with a pick or shovel.A similar geologic feature is found at Castle Rock State Park, also in Illinois.
What helped create the park’s signature geology and features was 1 catastrophic flood known as the Kankakee Torrent, which took place somewhere between 14,000 and 17,000 years ago.
This flood, the Kankakee Torrent resulted from a breach of moraines forming a large glacial lake fed by the melting of the Late Wisconsin Laurentide Ice Sheet. The point of origin of the flood was Lake Chicago. The landscape south of Chicago still shows the effects of the torrent, particularly at Kankakee River State Parkand on the Illinois River at Starved Rock State Park which took place somewhere between 14,000 and 17,000 years ago, before humans occupied the area, helped create the park’s signature geology and features, which are very unusual for the central plains.
The park is on the south bank of the Illinois River.
The Hennepin Canal roughly follows the ancient channel of the Mississippi upstream of Rock Island.), a major tributary of the Mississippi River, between the Fox and Vermilion Rivers. The Vermilion created large sandbars at the junction of the Illinois, preventing practical navigation farther upriver. Rapids were found at the base of the butte before the construction of the Starved Rock Lock and Dam.
Located in the Rock River Hills region of Illinois you will find 2000 acres of rolling topography. Awesome rock formations and ravines abound as well as unique northern plant associations.
Enjoy six miles of trials and you will encounter woodland animals and birds inhabiting the park. Bring your camera!
How did it get it’s name? A sandstone bluff along the river. Castle Rock is a bluff of exposed St. Peter Sandstone from the Middle Ordovician period. Newly exposed sections are white quartz, while older areas have browner tints from the formation of limonite. The bluff is along the axis of the Sandwich Fault Zone, separating Ordovician exposures from those of the Cambrian period.
Castle Rock State Park was one of eleven state parks slated to close indefinitely on November 1, 2008 due to budget cuts by former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. After delay, which restored funding for some of the parks, a proposal to close seven state parks and a dozen state historic sites, including Castle Rock, went ahead on November 30, 2008. After the impeachment of Illinois Governor Blagojevich, new governor Pat Quinn reopened the closed state parks in February. In March 2009 Quinn announced he is committed to reopening the state historic sites by June 30, 2009.
Kankakee River State Park, a treasured and historical area for centuries, is an Illinois state park on 4,000 acres. Originally, 35 acres (14 ha) of land was donated by Ethel Sturges Dummer for the creation of the state park in 1938. Another 1,715 acres (694 ha) was donated by Commonwealth Edison in 1956, which again donated more land in 1989. The area includes three amazing river islands.
There are plenty of hiking trails throughout the park that go through different ecosystems and different park features. While some go along the Kankakee River, with places to sit along the river, others go into the forests or along Rock Creek, a tributary of the Kankakee River that cuts through the ground, creating a gorge with cliffs. The trails are very diverse. The site is very good for mushroom hunting.
The park’s trails stretch along both sides of the river. Hiking, biking and cross-country ski trails are on the river’s north side. Horse and snowmobile trails can be found on the south. A 3-mile route along Rock Creek lets hikers take in the beauty of limestone canyons and a waterfall. A bicycle trail begins at Davis Creek Area and travels 10.5 miles of trails in the form of a linear trail along the river and a loop in the west end of the park.
The 275-acre Wauponsee Glacial Trail was acquired between 2004 and 2016.
Prior to the District’s acquisition of the land, it was two abandoned railroads: Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific from Joliet to Manhattan and the Wabash/Norfolk Southern from Manhattan to Custer Park.
The Wauponsee Glacial Trail is a 22.42-mile paved/crushed limestone linear trail consisting of two segments.
The northern segment of the trail travels 2.80 miles from Sugar Creek Preserve north to Rowell Avenue in Joliet. This flat, paved segment of the trail travels through woodland, prairie and wetland.
The southern segment of the trail extends an additional 19.62 miles from Sugar Creek Preserve south to the Kankakee River. This flat, crushed limestone segment of the trail travels through prairie. It is ideal for the following activities:
You will cross bridges and you might even see some wild turkeys…