Wilderness Wednesday

Pose lake Minnesota.jpg

Think there is not much wilderness left in the United States…think again.   And while much of it is in such states as California, Arizona, Washington and Alaska, we have a gem right here in the Midwest – Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota!

Bordering the Arrowhead Region of the Canadian Board, the combined region of the BWCAW, Superior National Forest, Voyageurs National Park, and Ontario’s Quetico and La Verendrye Provincial Parks make up a large area of contiguous wilderness lakes and forests called the “Quetico-Superior country”, or simply the Boundary Waters. Lake Superior lies to the south and east of the Boundary Waters.

190,000 acres, nearly 20% of the BWCAW’s total area is water. Within the borders of the area are over 1,100 lakes and hundreds of miles of rivers and streams. Much of the other 80% of the area is forest. The BWCAW contains the largest remaining area of uncut forest in the eastern portion of the United States.

The Boundary Waters area is within the Laurentian Mixed Forest Province (commonly called the “North Woods”), a transitional zone between the boreal forest to the north and the temperate hardwood forest to the south that contains characteristics of each. Trees found within the wilderness area include conifers such as red pine, eastern white pine, birch, ash and even raspberries can be found in cleared areas. 

Green Pine Trees

The BWCAW contains a variety of hiking trails. Shorter hikes include the trail to Eagle Mountain (7 miles) Loop trails include the Pow Wow Trail, the Snowbank Trail, and the Sioux-Hustler Trail. The Border Route Trail and Kekekabic Trail are the two longest trails running through the BWCAW. The Border Route Trail runs east-west for over 65 miles through the eastern BWCAW, beginning at the northern end of the Superior Hiking Trail and following ridges and cliffs west until it connects with the Kekekabic Trail. The Kekekabic Trail continues for another 41 miles (66 km), beginning near the Gunflint Trail and passing through the center of the BWCAW before exiting it near Snowbank Lake. Both the Border Route and the Kekekabic Trail are part of the longer North Country National Scenic Trail.


Junction of the Eagle Mountain and Brule Lake Trails







Whispers in the Wilderness



Wild: From Lost to Found



Nature’s Silent Message 

Hike & Go Seek – The Grand Illinois Trail


The Grand Illinois Trail (GIT) is over 535 miles in length and is the longest cycling loop trail in Illinois.  It extends from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi along the northern border of Illinois.   Parts of it are in the coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail.  The GIT was started in l992 and offers much for riders too.  Since it routes through the prairie state, it contains flat and easy to ride portions through green farmlands and pastoral vistas.  The GIT also gives touring cyclists special glimpses into much of the essence of Illinois like……….Chicago streetscapes  and trails along Lake Michigan; the hilly and picturesque geography of Jo Davies’ County; the mighty Mississippi river itself; Small Town America and medium sized cities and suburbs.


There is approximately 200 miles of the trail on paved township and county roads while the rest is on limestone trails or paths.  There is a GIT Trail Guide that was jointly produced by Ride Illinois and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources that is easily downloadable and helps to promote the use of this beautiful long distance bike route in the state of Illinois.  The guide divides the trail into ten segments each with a map and cue sheet for directions and local features to enjoy along the way.  In the guide you will also find information on lodging, food, camping and bike repair and detailed maps will guide you through areas with many turns.  You can download the GIT map and brochure at www.rideillinois.org.
Each trail section has its own special history and history of development.  Particularly noteworthy is the famous Prairie Path that runs through the western suburbs of Chicago and was the first long rail-trail development in America along with the great Chicago Lakefront trail.  The best long section of the GIT is the southern section along the state canal trails between Joliet and the Quad Cities.   (wiki)

The Chief Shabbona Trail

The Chief Shabbona Trail is a part of the 61 mile long National Park Service Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor that is ideal for hiking, bicycling and canoeing.  The trail is open year round and all activities just mentioned are free to the public.  While the trail offers eight different access points allowing for various trail lengths, you can earn the official Chief Shabbona Patch by completing the 15 mile stretch from Channahon to Gebhard Woods.
Well protected from traffic and the elements, the Shabbona Trail is primarily a compacted gravel trail and there is only one point where a rural two-lane road is crossed.  The remainder of the trail is a National Park Service trail that is maintained by the State of Illinois.  Much of the trail is near the Illinois River and is mostly tree lined making it an ideal location for hiking and backpacking, bicylcing, canoeing or kayaking, and cross country skiing.
Established on July 30th, 1960 by Troop 25, The Chief Shabbona Historical Trail is Nationally Approved by the Boy Scouts of America and follows the paths that Shabbona was known to have walked.  Over 10,000 scouts have hiked the trail by 1963.  In 2010 the trail celebrated its’ 50 anniversary.  While hiking along the trail you will see full size replicas of canal boats, a locktender’s house, working stone blocks and a fully restored stone aqueducts…..which date back to the mid 19th century.
The nearby Illinois River provides for many panoramic views while the habitat ranges from dense woods to open prairie grasslands.  The trail is shaded in most areas by a variety of trees including walnut, oak, ash, maple, sycamore, hawthorn and cottonwood.  If you are into birding, you will find songbirds, mallards, wood ducks, green herons and great blue herons feeding and nesting along the trail.  If you are also into fishing…….you can try your hand at catching bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish and bullhead.   Other wildlife include beaver, muskrat, mink, raccoon and deer can often be seen.    wiki

Hike & Go Seek – Indiana Dunes

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan City, Indiana, Estados Unidos, 2012-10-20, DD 03.jpg
Love sand and hiking on packed sandy paths?  Indiana Dunes National Park, designated as the nation’s 61st national park is located in Northwestern Indiana along the southern shores of Lake Michigan.  The park runs for nearly 25 miles alongside of Lake Michigan containing approximately 15,000 acres where you will find sand dunes, wetland, river, prairie and forest ecosystems.  The Park is host to a wide variety of wildlife including white-tailed deer, red fox, raccoons, opossums, cottontail rabbits, various rodents, Canada geese, gulls, squirrels, hawks, turkey vultures , mallards, great blue herons,
songbirds and garter snakes.
There are nine different diverse trails to explore!
    *  Paul H. Douglas Trail
    *  Tolleston Dune Trail
    *  Succession Trail.
    *  Bailly-Chellberg Trail.
    *  Little Calumet River Trail.
    *  Cowles Bog Trail.
    *  Calumet Dune Trail
    *  Glenwood Dune Horse and Hiking Trail
The Indiana Dunes has over 369 species of flowering plants of which thirteen are considered threatened or in danger of extinction.  In addition, there are four invasive flowering plants on the list.  Some of the more common spring flowers you will find include the May apple, 6 varieties of buttercups, and violets (14 types).  During the Summer months orchids( 5 types) and lots of goldenrods (11 types) can be found.
For your first visit to the park, it is highly recommended that you visit the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center located at U.S. Route 20 and Indiana Route 49 near Porter, Indiana.  The center offers standard visitor-center amenities including a video, brochures, hands-on exhibits and a gift shop.  It is free to the general public.
If you like to camp…..check out the Dunewood Campground located on U.S. Route 12 which includes two loops of trailer accessible sites and a RV dump station.  All sites have grills, a picnic table and access to restrooms with running water and showers.  There are also a limited number of camp sites at the neighboring Douglas Loop. The park provides for 45 miles of hiking, fishing, swimming, horseback riding and cross-country skiing.  Cycling is available on the Calumet Trail which is a crushed limestone multi-use trail that runs through the eastern section of the park.  With all the things to see and do here……………….the park will draw over 2 million visitors each year.
Insect Shield Sport Crew Sock
White and Black Birds Piercing on Tree Branch

Midwest Birding


Hike & Go Seek -Ancient Sanilac Petroglyths

Sanilac Petroglyphs - Archer.jpg
Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park is located in the state of Michigan consisting of 240 acres of land containing the largest collection of Native American petroglyphs in Michigan.  The carvings were created in the pre-Columbian era and represent s aspects of Native American spirituality.  There is also an interpretive hiking trail within the park along the nearby Cass River.
The main feature of the park is a 1,000 square foot sandstone outcrop with around 100 petroglyphs on it which makes this the largest grouping of such carvings in Michigan.  These carvings were likely carved between 400 to 1,400 years ago and were discovered by the area’s settlers after much of the Thumb region was burned over .by a massive forest fire in 1881.
Many archaeologists have studied the site dating back to the 1920’s.  The stone tools and pottery found in the park show that various tribal groups have occupied the area periodically throughout the last 8,000 years.  The petroglyphs were thoroughly recorded in 1940 by Darrel Richards and Carl Holmquist of the Aboriginal Research Club of Detroit who created drawings and castings of the carvings which are now in the collection at the Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
In addition to the rock carvings, the Cass River floodplain forest within the park can be explored via a 1.5 mile trail loop which crosses the river twice.  The area is home to a wide variety of animals including deer, turkey, ruffed grouse, green heron and belted kingfisher.  Also, numerous outcrops of Marshall Sandstone are visible along with the site of a 19th century logging camp.
Insect Shield Sport Crew Sock
White and Black Birds Piercing on Tree Branch
Woman Standing on Cliff

Hike & Go Seek – Copper Harbor

Aerial view of Copper Harbor
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.



Wild: From Lost to Found

Hike & Go Seek – Isle Royal

Isle Royale shipwrecks Lake Superior.jpg
Located on the Northwest end of Lake Superior near the town of Laurentia, you will find the island called Isle Royale.  It is part of the state of Michigan and along with 450 surrounding islands it makes up the territory called Isle Royale.  This whole cluster of islands is 45 miles long and 9 miles wide covering over 206 miles in total area making it the fourth largest lake island in the world.  In addition, it is the second largest island located in the Great Lakes and the largest natural island in Lake Superior.
Isle Royale is only about 15 miles of the Canadian and Minnesotan shores of the lake.  There are no roads on the island making hiking the main method of movement and transportation.  In Rock Harbor one can find wheeled carts available to move personal belongings  from the Rock Harbor marina to the cabins and hotel.
Isle Royale was given to the United States by the 1783 treaty with Great Britain but the British remained in control of this land until after the War of 1812 and the already settled Ojibwa peoples considered the island to be their territory.  The island was once the site of several lake trout and whitefish fisheries as well as a few resorts but as of today there are no permanent inhabitants.  A major attraction to the island are it’s several shipwrecks located on the western tip making for exciting scuba dives and providing a glimpse into some maritime history of the area.
As for recreational activities one can enjoy hiking, backpacking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking and bird watching.  Wheeled vehicles are not permitted on Isle Royale such as bicycles or canoe portage devices.  There are many campgrounds to explore with most of them being accessible only by water.  There are two small settlements on the island and they are Rock Harbor (which has a resort, marina and basic amenities) and Windigo, a smaller facility on the far western end of the island.  A typical National Park Service campground will consist of a few shelters (cabin-like structures with one wall of mosquito-proof screen), individual tent sites with a picnic table and group camping sites. There are one or more pit toilets at each facility.  Campgrounds along the shore have a boat dock and overnight boaters are a common sight at the campgrounds.  The waterfront locations also attract many canoeists and kayakers.  Please note that no wells are available so one should plan to bring their own water for the trip.
There are over 170 miles of hiking trails for everything from day hikes to a two week circumnavigation kike with some of the trails having steep grades that are quite challenging. The most popular, best marked and longest single route in the 40 mile Greenstone Ridge Trail that extends down the island’s backbone.  A memorable adventure for the serious hiker.
Just released:

Hiking Captures from the Archives – thewallgalleryblog

As with last weeks post, I have been digging through the archives to find captures that I have not done anything with. That being said, we are jumping back to 2013 in North Bend, Washington. North Bend is on the western side of the Cascade Mountain Range just east of Seattle. The town is nestled in a beautiful valley and is home to numerous hiking trails and some pretty intense ones at that.

Todays captures come from two different trails, the first one is called Little Si and is rated low to intermediate.

I miss the lushness of the Pacific Northwest woods…….

I love the way the sun was shining through the forest canopy on these moss covered boulders.

The next three captures are from the Twin Falls trail. I have shared numerous shots of the falls, but nothing from the trail to get to them.

via Hiking Captures from the Archives — thewallgalleryblog



Scratch off map – National Parks

Hike & Go Seek – Orchard Beach State Park

Orchard Beach State Park 3 by Joshua Young.png
Located on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan in Manistee Township, Manistee County, Michigan……Orchard Beach State Park is a public recreation area covering 201 acres just north of the city Manistee which has a beach, campground and hiking trails.
The park dates back to 1892 when it first opened and was developed by the Manistee, Filer City and Eastlake Railway  Company.  The site was purchased by the Manistee Board of Commerce after the company stopped trolley service to the park and then became part of the Michigan state park system in 1921.
The Civilian Conservation Corps was active in the park during the 1930’s and Corps efforts included the construction of several limestone structures including a pump house, pavilion, line house and toilet.  In 2009 the park was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places having been cited as “one of the most intact examples of a Michigan state park developed in the 1930’s and 1940’s under National Park Service guidelines.
In 2019 it was reported that erosion caused by high water levels on Lake Michigan threatened the park’s historic pavilion with destruction.  The pavilion stands only 50 feet from the edge of the bluff.  High water had covered the sandy beach at the base of the bluff below the pavilion since 2017 and the stairway built to access the beach from the pavilion led straight into the high waters of Lake Michigan.
As for activities and amenities the park offers swimming, fishing, three miles of hiking trails, picknicking facilities and a 166 site campground.

Hiking Trails in Michigan: Featuring the North Country Trail

The N.C.T. or generally known as the North Country Trail is a footpath stretching over 4,600 miles from Central Vermont (Middlebury) to Lake Sakakawea State Park in central North Dakota connecting both the Long Trail with the Lewis & Clark Trail.  Passing through eight states….it is the longest of eleven National Scenic Trails that combine for a total of 3,129 miles to explore.
The trail begins in Vermont and proceeds to the western end of the state….cutting across northwestern Pennsylvania then follows southwest through the hilly region of southern Ohio until in gets near Cincinnati turning north through western Ohio on to the hills of southeast Michigan.  It continues from southeast Michigan through the western Lower Penisula, crosses the Straits of Mackinac and takes a northern route through the Upper Penisula.  After crossing northern Wisconsin, one leg follows the shores of Lake Superior onwards to the northeast corner of Minnesota before turning west where it meets the other leg in central northern Minnesota.  The trail enters southeast North Dakota and continues to its other termination point in the center of the state.
The NCT also threads its way through 57 state parks and state historic areas, 47 state forests, 22 state game areas, seven water conversation districts and at least ten county forests and parks.  Several hundred miles of trail will eventually cross private land thanks to owners who have granted easements across their property.
There are about 10,000 people involved with the NCT either through membership in the North Country Trail Association or membership in one of eight organizations affiliated with the NCTA.