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.
Though a short distance from the urban areas of Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park seems worlds away. The park is a refuge for native plants and wildlife, and provides routes of discovery for visitors. The winding Cuyahoga River gives way to deep forests, rolling hills, and open farmlands. Walk or ride the Towpath Trail to follow the historic route of the Ohio & Erie Canal.
Over 125 miles of hiking trails are available for your hiking pleasure in CVNP. These trails range from nearly level to challenging.
Blue Hen Falls is favorite of visitors who wish to visit one of the prettiest waterfalls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The trail takers hikers down an old driveway to Spring Creek (named for the spring upstream that feeds this creek year-round).
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.
Badlands – South Dakota 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸
A must see destination
The Badlands were formed by the geologic forces of deposition and erosion over 69 million years ago when an ancient sea stretched across what is now the Great Plains. After the sea retreated, successive land environments, including rivers and flood plains, continued to deposit sediments. Although the major period of deposition ended 28 million years ago, significant erosion of the Badlands did not begin until a mere half a million years ago. Erosion continues to carve the Badlands buttes today. Eventually, the Badlands will completely erode away.
Devil’s Lake has over 29 miles of hiking trails for any skill level including amazingly scenic sections of the National Ice Age Trail. The trails vary in condition and difficulty from easy to challenging and are not maintained in the winter months. Steep climbs or descents and stairways are common on Devil’s Lake’s hiking trails.
For more information visit: https://www.devilslakewisconsin.com/activities/hiking/
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/