Morman Pioneer National Historic Trail

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.

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.

On March 1, 1846, some 500 Mormon wagons lurched northwesterly across the winter-

National Trails Intermountain Region
Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail
PO Box 728 

Santa Fe, NM 87504

Phone:

(801) 741-1012

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

 

Shawnee National Forest – Illinois

 

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.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/shawnee/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=10685&actid=50

 

Moraine Hills State Park – Illinois

Moraine Hills State Park – Illinois

https://best-of-the-midwest.blog/2019/04/13/moraine-hills-state-park-illinois/
— Read on best-of-the-midwest.blog/2019/04/13/moraine-hills-state-park-illinois/

Starved Rock State Park: Gorging on Gorges

Starved Rock State Park: Gorging on Gorges

https://bithiker.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/starved-rock-state-park-gorging-on-gorges/
— Read on bithiker.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/starved-rock-state-park-gorging-on-gorges/

Cove Hollow Trail

Hike along Cedar Lake

by James Baughn

Rollins Savana – Lake County, IL

Grasslands – The Secret to the Rescue

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On any given day, you will find numerous souls walking, running or biking the Rollins Savana trials in Grayslake, Illinois which also connects to the Millennium Trail to the North and South, enjoying the peaceful beauty of what a grassland habitat provides.

The space is the most important ingredient in building a grassland bird habitat.  A minimum of 150 acres is needed, undivided by roads, in order for many species to breed successfully.

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The land used in this grassland restoration project passed through a number of hands before becoming a preserve in the late 1980’s.  Rollins Savanna in is now one of Lake County’s largest forest preserves with over 1,200 uninterrupted acres.

Plants are a supporting structure within a habitat.  Their root systems hold the soil together and prevent erosion.  With a natural water flow, ecologists restore the mix of plants that  protect and enrich the soil.  Plants feed the animals, provide materials and places for nests, and break the cold winter winds.  The right mix of plants supports the animals that northern barriers feed – ground squirrels, voles and mice.

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Apple River Canyon State Park: Illinois.

Apple-River-Canyon-SP_web

In hilly northern Illinois, the park offers hiking, day use, camping and fishing, plus Millville, a National Historic Register site.

Apple River Canyon State Park is in the hilly northwest corner of Illinois near the Wisconsin border. Limestone bluffs, deep ravines, springs, streams and wildlife characterize this area. Once a part of a vast sea bottom that stretched from the Alleghenies to the Rockies, the scenic canyon area was formed by the action of the winding waters of the Apple River.

The park was established by the State of Illinois in 1932, and today consisting of 1,907 acres. Several other sites within Jo Daviess County are managed as part of the Apple River Canyon State Park Complex: Thompson and Salem Units, Iris and Jack Witkowsky Wildlife Area, Tapley Woods Natural Area, Hanover Bluff Natural Area, Hanover Bluff Nature Preserve, Wards Grove Nature Preserve, McKeague Unit Nature Preserve, Rall Woods Natural Area, and Apple River Canyon – Winston Tunnel Unit.