Love of the Lens – On Location

Daniel Wright Woods  – Lake County,  Illinois

While March generally isn’t the best of weather anywhere in the midwest, today showed us sunny skies and 50 degrees.  With the warmer weather, the melted snow leaves for slushy, muddy trials and the Des Plaines River closer then we want (literally cutting off many of the paths) at the Daniel Wright Woods Forest Preserve. But nonetheless a very enjoyable experience.

This peaceful oasis among the bustling suburbs offers 4 miles of scenic trails: a short loop for hikers, bicyclists and skiers that circles a pond, and a 3-mile loop for hikers, bicyclists, skiers and horses.

A footbridge spanning the Des Plaines River (assuming the path to get to it is not flooded like today) links Wright Woods to Half Day Forest Preserve. Together they offer some of southern Lake County’s most scenic outdoor recreation opportunities and the Des Plaines River Trail passes through both preserves.

A Little History?

Wright Woods was named for one of Lake County’s first settlers, Captain Daniel Wright. In the early 1960s, these acres were some of the first acquired. In 2004, the 168-acre Lloyd’s Woods addition to Wright Woods expanded the preserve to its current 750 acres.

It provides the opportunity to see the powerful effects of water and fire. Prior to settlement by Europeans, wildfires regularly swept eastward across Lake County, only to be stopped by the Des Plaines River. Situated just east of the river, Wright Woods supports a rich oak and maple woodland that sometimes develops in less frequently burned areas. With large stands of maples found at few other places in Lake County, Wright Woods is a great place to view autumn colors.

 

For more information and location, visit https://www.lcfpd.org/wright-woods/

Shawnee National Forest – Illinois

The Shawnee National Forest at approximately 280,000 acres is the single largest publicly owned body of land in the state of Illinois. It is located in the Ozark and Shawnee Hills of Southern Illinois.  There are many miles of diverse hiking and backpacking trails including the 160-mile River to River Trail. In the southern tip of Illinois lies the rolling Shawnee Hills where 289,000 acres await you to relax, unwind and explore.   Here you will find vast forests, wetlands and rugged bluffs home to a variety of plants and animals. The natural beauty of the area is ideal for all types of outdoor recreation.

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

Map of Shawnee National Forest

  • Phone: (618) 253-7114
  • Address: 50 Highway 145 S, Harrisburg, IL 62946

Love of the Lens – On Location

The Volo Bog – Illinois

Summer or winter – the Volo Bog is a place for discovery.  Located in Northeast Illinois, the bog sports a half mile walk on a boardwalk (similar to a pier) and an approximately three-mile trail with views of the tamarck forests.

After the end of the last Ice Age, a chuck of retreating glacial ice lodged itself deep in the ground at what is now Volo Bog. Several thousand years later the remnant lake began to fill with salt and vegetation, creating the wetlands present today.  The Volo Bog is technically known as a quaking bog because vegetation floats atop the open water….that is in the spring, summer and fall.  The boardwalks you see here, take you directly over the frozen wetlands which are very near where you are stepping. 

For more information, visit https://openlands.org/2018/06/05/have-you-discovered-volo-bog/

 

Garden of the Gods

Shawnee National Forest is a Midwest destination unlike any other. Traverse 403 miles of hiking trails, discover local wineries and craft breweries, and don’t miss the Garden of the Gods.

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n southern Illinois, fields give way to forested hills, rugged bluffs and sweet surprises in Shawnee National Forest.

Outdoor enthusiasts make tracks to Giant City State Park, which gets its name from the steep, carved sandstone cliffs that resemble city streets fit for a giant. Hikers explore miles of trails or gather their gear and tackle rock-climbing and rappelling on the massive bluffs. Giant City Stables leads guided horseback tours along wooded paths. The clear and calm waters of Little Grassy Lake, part of the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, are ideal for a day of fishing and boating. For a colorful detour, the quirky Makanda Boardwalk showcases the works of local artisans, including metalwork and gemstone jewelry.

Head for the Forest

Woodlands, Wetlands, Prairies and Birds!

Hike the Preserves at Crabtree Nature Center near Chicago, IL.

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With the help of active restoration and natural succession, the 1,182 acre parcel of farmland that has become Crabtree Nature Center has been restored to ecological heath and biodiversity.

Crabtree is known as a birding site.  Up to 270 species have been recorded migrating through the area.  Many have been thrilled to spy a sandhill crane family or spot a flock of hooded mergansers on the lake.