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.

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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.

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

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

Flint Hills Nature Trail – Kansas

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This 117-mile crown jewel is the seventh-longest rail-trail in the U.S. and the longest trail in Kansas. It follows the general route of the Santa Fe National Historic Trail and is a component of the coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail.

The trail crosses the Flint Hills, one of the last remaining tallgrass prairie ecosystems in the world. It is home to abundant prairie plant and wildlife species, spectacular views, national historic sites, and a diverse set of recreational areas. On eastern portions of the trail, hikers and bikers travel along the Marais Des Cygnes River, between rushing waters and towering bluffs, through rolling farmland and riparian woodlands. Trail-goers can enjoy the sites and hospitality of more than 12 rural communities across five counties.

 

Flint Hills Nature Trail History

The Flint Hills Nature Trail is built on an old railroad corridor. The route was originally developed in the late 1880s, as the Council Grove, Osage City & Ottawa Railway. It later became the Missouri Pacific Railroad.

MoPac discontinued railway service on the line in the 1980s, and subsequently abandoned. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy acquired and railbanked the corridor in 1995 and later transferred ownership to the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy.

The KRTC has been developing the trail in sections, where volunteers have been available, and where grant funding and donations have permitted the old corridor to be refurbished.

The Flint Hills Nature Trail was the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s “Trail of the Month” in March 2010. The RTC also features the Flint Hills Nature Trail on their TrailLink site.

Visit Flint Hills Nature Trailfor more information.