Shawnee National Forest – Illinois

Water pool with rock cliffs and heavily forested area surrounding it

Clear, rocky streams and scenic canyons bordered by high sandstone cliffs and plants unique to Illinois. The trail consists of seven miles of interconnected trails, featuring strange and wonderful rock formations, such as Devil’s Backbone, Boulder Falls and a natural rock bridge.

Aerial view of river with rock cliffs and shrubs surrounding it

Looking for solitude?  Wilderness areas are some of the largest contiguous forested lands within the Shawnee, and together they make up about 10 percent of the national forest.

Rocky waterfall

This place has it all – majestic bluffs, a lush bottomland habitat, colorful cliffs and expansive views of the Big Muddy and Mississippi rivers. If you like to watch birds, this spot is haven for neotropical migratory songbirds during the spring and fall.

Scenic view from trail looking out at meadow and trees from a rock pinnacle

Majestic views await you at Inspiration Point, a National Recreation Trail, located at LaRue Pine Hills. With more than 170 bird species, it is a birders’ paradise. In the spring, the trail is bordered with wildflowers — blazing star, bellwort, bluets and spiderwort.

Natural bridge

Check out this rocky bridge, which spans 90 feet, while you’re visiting the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail. Located just minutes off Highway 127, it takes less than an hour to hike.

 

https://www.fs.usda.gov/attmain/shawnee

Hocking Hills State Park – Ohio

Discover the 7 different amazing hiking areas of Hocking Hills State Park 

Ash Cave – Hocking Hills State Park – 27291 Ohio 56, South

Cedar Falls – Hocking Hills State Park – 21724 Ohio 374 Scenic, Logan, OH 43138

Conkle’s Hollow- Hocking Hills State Park – 24132 Big Pine Road

Cantwell Cliffs – Hocking Hills State Park – Ohio 374, Rockbridge, OH 43149

Rock House – Hocking Hills State Park – 16526 Ohio 374, Laurelville, OH 43135

Hemlock Bridge Trail/Whispering Cave

 

https://www.thehockinghills.org/

Brown County State Park – Indiana

The Smokies of the Midwest

Nicknamed the “Little Smokies” because of the area’s resemblance to the Great Smoky Mountains, Brown County encompasses nearly 16,000 acres of rugged hills, ridges and fog-shrouded ravines. Glaciers from the most recent ice ages stopped short of the “hills o’ Brown,” but their meltwaters helped create the narrow ridges, steep slopes and deep gullies of Brown County State Park. Indiana’s largest park is a traditional fall color hot spot, with nearly 20 miles of tree-lined roads and many scenic vistas overlooking miles of uninterrupted forestland.

The park’s rustic Abe Martin Lodge offers accommodations that include motel rooms, cabins, dining and conference facilities and an indoor water park. Large campgrounds, hiking and mountain biking trails, interpretive services, a saddle barn for guided horse rides and a separate horseman campground with 70 miles of horse trails are some of the things that make Brown County State Park popular year-round.

 

 

https://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2988.htm

Moraine Hills State Park – Illinois

Moraine Hills derives its name from a geologic formation known as a moraine, which is an accumulation of boulders, stones and other debris deposited by a glacier. As glacial ice melted here following the Wisconsin glaciation period, it left gravel-rich deposits called kames that make up the park’s wooded hills and ridges.

From fishing to hiking and biking – from lush habitat and rare plants to watching a wealth of wildlife – Moraine Hills State Park is home to a recreational bounty in northeast Illinois. Located 3 miles south of McHenry in McHenry County, the park is located near the Fox River and McHenry Dam, with about half of the park’s 2,200 acres composed of wetlands and lakes.

In 1939, the State of Illinois made the initial McHenry Dam State Park land acquisition of 15 acres on the east bank of the Fox River. Major acquisition of the Lake Defiance area began in 1971, and construction of park facilities took place in the spring of 1975. The present Moraine Hills State Park opened in October 1976.​ The park name is derived from a geologic formation known as a moraine, which is an accumulation of boulders, stones and other debris deposited by a glacier.

The 48-acre Lake Defiance, located near the center of the park, is one of the few glacial lakes in Illinois that has remained largely undeveloped, maintaining a near-natural condition.

The waters and wetlands of Moraine Hills are home to abundant wildlife; more than 200 species of birds have been identified at the park.  Fishing is available on both Lake Defiance and on the Fox River. The McHenry Dam area provides access to the Fox River, and a fishing pier accessible.  More than 10 miles of trails make Moraine Hills popular for hikers, skiers and cyclists, and provide one of the park’s main recreation features.

 

https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Parks/Pages/MoraineHills.aspx

Kettle Moraine, Wisconsin

Prairie wildflowers at Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unit.

The Kettle Moraine State Forest—Southern Unit is 61 miles east of Madison and 37 miles southwest of Milwaukee.  More than 22,000 acres of glacial hills, kettles, lakes, prairie restoration sites, pine woods and hardwood forests can be found in the Southern Unit. The Forest is 30 miles long, extending from the village of Dousman, almost to the city of Whitewater. The forest headquarters is 3 miles west of the village of Eagle on State Highway 59.

cranes

The hills and valleys of Kettle Moraine South have a great variety of natural habitats, plants and animals, including many rare species. You may see or hear coyotes, red foxes, sandhill cranes and Cooper’s hawks. The 3,500-acre Scuppernong River Habitat Area is the largest wet prairie east of the Mississippi River.

Location

 

https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/kms/nature.html

Cuyahoga Valley National Park – Ohio

2019 River Celebration

Though a short distance from the urban areas of Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park seems worlds away. The park is a refuge for native plants and wildlife, and provides routes of discovery for visitors. The winding Cuyahoga River gives way to deep forests, rolling hills, and open farmlands. Walk or ride the Towpath Trail to follow the historic route of the Ohio & Erie Canal.

Over 125 miles of hiking trails are available for your hiking pleasure in CVNP. These trails range from nearly level to challenging.

Blue Hen Falls

Blue Hen Falls is favorite of visitors who wish to visit one of the prettiest waterfalls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The trail takers hikers down an old driveway to Spring Creek (named for the spring upstream that feeds this creek year-round).

 

https://www.nps.gov/cuva/learn/index.htm

Black Hills, South Dakota

South Dakota's Black Hills.The Black Hills, in western South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming, consists of 1.2 million acres of forested hills and mountains, approximately 110 miles long and 70 miles wide, a hikers and naturalist paradise.

The Black Hills rise from the adjacent grasslands into a ponderosa pine forest. Described as an “Island in the Plains,” the Forest has diverse wildlife and plants reaching from the eastern forests to the western plains. The Forest is a multiple-use Forest with activities ranging from timber production, grazing, to hiking, camping, mountain biking, horseback riding, rock climbing, mining, wildlife viewing and many others.

The four seasons offer amazing opportunities to view and enjoy nature on the Black Hills National Forest. In the springtime, flowers abound on the forest floor. Fall colors  brighten the hills and white winter snow illuminates the surroundings. Forest lakes glisten bright blue on summer days, and summer nights offer magnificent opportunities for star gazing.

Enjoy yourself while viewing the many rugged rock formations, canyons and gulches, open grassland parks, tumbling streams, and deep blue lakes.

 

Rock Climbing

 

 

 

https://www.fs.usda.gov/blackhills