Hike & Go Seek – Garden of the Gods

Green Tree Near Rocky Mountains

Looking for spectacular views with a short hike among some of the most unique rock formations in the United States? Look no further than Garden of the Gods in Southern Illinois. The most popular hike in the Shawnee National Forest, Garden of the Gods gives tourists amazing insight into the geologic structure of Southern Illinois and a view that stretches for miles high over the pristine hills of Shawnee Forest.

More than 320 million years ago, the wind and rain patiently started to chisel away at large deposits of sedimentary rock located in what is now, Shawnee National Forest . Over the years, the elements have sculpted some of the most stunning and extraordinary rock formations known to man. There are also plenty of trails for backpacking and horseback riding, allowing nature lovers a welcome tour of what the lively environment has to offer.

Trekking The National Parks: The Family Board Game (Second Edition)

Trekking the National Parks Family Board Game

There are many miles of diverse hiking and backpacking trails in the Shawnee National Forest including the 160-mile River to River Trail.

One of the most photographed locations in the state, Garden of the Gods’ scenic beauty is extraordinary. In the recreation area you can hike, camp, nature watch or picnic.

The Observation Trail features unique sandstone rock formations and panoramic views of the surrounding Garden of the God Wilderness. Interpretive signs explain the geological history. The 1/4-mile trail is made of natural sandstone and takes about an hour to walk. It contains short, steep grades and steps; benches are located along the trail and as a whole the trail is not tiring. Caution should be used due to the high cliffs in the area.

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Hike & Go Seek – The Blue Water River Walk

The Blue Water River Walk is a one mile stretch of land that runs along the St. Clair River in Port Huron, Michigan.  It has it’s own unique naturalized shoreline that is made up from natural rocks, pebbles and boulders while also consisting of many native plants, flowers, trees and shrubs that grow in their own natural landscape and habitat onshore.  The River Walk provides for a place where the natural habitat can thrive and visitors can take a walk along the shoreline and enjoy looking for turtles, watch the freighters or enjoy a nice outdoor picnic.
A very unique and noticeably different feature of the new St. Clair river shoreline along the Blue Water River Walk is the huge boulder and stone structures sticking up from the water just offshore.  These are huge offshore reefs that extend downwards almost 15 feet into the river bottom.  These large boulders weigh as much as 4,000 pounds and are resting on two other layers…recycled slabs of cement on the very bottom and a middle layer of smaller boulders.  All together over 8,000 tons of rock, stone, cement and boulders were used to build these reefs.

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These offshore reefs are a critical element to the overall naturalization of the St. Clair River shoreline.  The reefs are there to serve two purposes:  first, they help to knock down the incredibly strong wave energy caused by passing boats and if left unchecked those waves can create serious damage and erosion to the new shoreline.  Secondly, they create new shallow water habitats between the reefs and the shoreline which is critical to the growth and development of small fish, reptiles and amphibians.  

The River Walk has a 10′ wide asphalt Pedestrian trail that runs the entire length of the Blue Water River Walk.  Posts have been placed along the west edge of the trail for increased safety for walkers and to keep vehicles off the trail.  

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Whispers in the Wilderness

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Wild: From Lost to Found

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Wilderness Wednesday

A pointed bluff landmark sticks out above a flat valley with large green shrubs.

Covering Five States (IL, IA, NE, UT, WY)

Explore the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail across five states to see the 1,300-mile route traveled by Mormons who fled Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1846-1847

Martins Cove, Wyoming

A Brief History

The story of the Mormon Trail is rooted in the beginnings of a unique American religion. In 1827, 21-year-old Joseph Smith announced that he had unearthed a set of golden plates, inscribed with the tenants of God’s true church. Smith said that he had been directed to the plates by an angel named Moroni, who also had given him divine tools for translating the ancient inscriptions into English. Smith used these to produce new Scripture called the Book of Mormon. In 1830, in western New York, he organized a legal entity that would become The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His followers, who regarded Smith as a prophet, became known as Mormons.

Important differences between mainstream Christianity and Mormon doctrine quickly emerged, but it was primarily hostilities over land, business, and politics that caused Smith repeatedly to move church headquarters. Driven out of Missouri in 1838, the Mormons finally settled along a bend of the Mississippi River in Illinois. There they established a community they called Nauvoo, a Hebrew word meaning “beautiful place.” It was at Nauvoo that Smith cautiously began introducing the Old Testament practice of “plural marriage,” or polygamy, among select church leaders.

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Thousands of converts flocked to Nauvoo, soon making it the largest town in Illinois. Neighbors initially welcomed the orderly, industrious settlers despite their religious differences. But relations gradually soured, with complaints centering on Mormons’ clannish business practices, accusations of theft, their electoral sway, and Smith’s political aspirations. Meanwhile, dissent emerged within the church as rumors leaked of secret plural marriages. After an opposition newspaper publicly accused the prophet and other leaders of polygamy, Nauvoo’s city council and Smith declared the paper a public nuisance and Smith ordered destruction of its press. For that he and others were arrested and jailed at Carthage, Illinois. On June 27, 1844, a mob broke into the jail and murdered Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. Other vigilantes attacked Mormon farms around Nauvoo in an attempt to expel them.

Brigham Young stepped up as Smith’s successor and began planning an orderly, spring 1846 evacuation of some 15,000 faithful to the Great Basin, Mexican-held territory beyond the Rocky Mountains. However, as anti-Mormon violence heated, Young decided to organize a vanguard of church leaders to depart in late winter, hoping that would pacify the vigilantes until the main body of Mormons could start west in April. On February 4, 1846, the first wagons ferried across the Mississippi to Iowa. This group halted after five miles and set up camp at Sugar Creek for a lengthy wait as Young and his associates concluded business at Nauvoo. Meanwhile others, anxious not to be left behind, drifted over to join the Sugar Creek camp. Young’s vanguard company unexpectedly swelled from his intended 1,800 emigrants to around 3,000—many without their own wagons and provisions.

https://www.nps.gov/mopi/index.htm

0996962662

Whispers in the Wilderness

B005CRQ4XI

Wild: From Lost to Found

1732352224

Nature’s Silent Message 

Wilderness Wednesday

A pointed bluff landmark sticks out above a flat valley with large green shrubs.

Covering Five States (IL, IA, NE, UT, WY)

Explore the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail across five states to see the 1,300-mile route traveled by Mormons who fled Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1846-1847

Martins Cove, Wyoming

A Brief History

The story of the Mormon Trail is rooted in the beginnings of a unique American religion. In 1827, 21-year-old Joseph Smith announced that he had unearthed a set of golden plates, inscribed with the tenants of God’s true church. Smith said that he had been directed to the plates by an angel named Moroni, who also had given him divine tools for translating the ancient inscriptions into English. Smith used these to produce new Scripture called the Book of Mormon. In 1830, in western New York, he organized a legal entity that would become The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His followers, who regarded Smith as a prophet, became known as Mormons.

Important differences between mainstream Christianity and Mormon doctrine quickly emerged, but it was primarily hostilities over land, business, and politics that caused Smith repeatedly to move church headquarters. Driven out of Missouri in 1838, the Mormons finally settled along a bend of the Mississippi River in Illinois. There they established a community they called Nauvoo, a Hebrew word meaning “beautiful place.” It was at Nauvoo that Smith cautiously began introducing the Old Testament practice of “plural marriage,” or polygamy, among select church leaders.

B007MIWUG0

READ FOR FREE

Thousands of converts flocked to Nauvoo, soon making it the largest town in Illinois. Neighbors initially welcomed the orderly, industrious settlers despite their religious differences. But relations gradually soured, with complaints centering on Mormons’ clannish business practices, accusations of theft, their electoral sway, and Smith’s political aspirations. Meanwhile, dissent emerged within the church as rumors leaked of secret plural marriages. After an opposition newspaper publicly accused the prophet and other leaders of polygamy, Nauvoo’s city council and Smith declared the paper a public nuisance and Smith ordered destruction of its press. For that he and others were arrested and jailed at Carthage, Illinois. On June 27, 1844, a mob broke into the jail and murdered Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. Other vigilantes attacked Mormon farms around Nauvoo in an attempt to expel them.

Brigham Young stepped up as Smith’s successor and began planning an orderly, spring 1846 evacuation of some 15,000 faithful to the Great Basin, Mexican-held territory beyond the Rocky Mountains. However, as anti-Mormon violence heated, Young decided to organize a vanguard of church leaders to depart in late winter, hoping that would pacify the vigilantes until the main body of Mormons could start west in April. On February 4, 1846, the first wagons ferried across the Mississippi to Iowa. This group halted after five miles and set up camp at Sugar Creek for a lengthy wait as Young and his associates concluded business at Nauvoo. Meanwhile others, anxious not to be left behind, drifted over to join the Sugar Creek camp. Young’s vanguard company unexpectedly swelled from his intended 1,800 emigrants to around 3,000—many without their own wagons and provisions.

https://www.nps.gov/mopi/index.htm

0996962662

Whispers in the Wilderness

B005CRQ4XI

Wild: From Lost to Found

1732352224

Nature’s Silent Message 

Hike & Go Seek – The Grand Illinois Trail

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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
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Hike & Go Seek – Indiana Dunes

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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.
Wiki
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White and Black Birds Piercing on Tree Branch

Midwest Birding

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Hike & Go Seek -Ancient Sanilac Petroglyths

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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.
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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.

 

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