66 Hikes Along Route 66 – #9

Meramec State Park – Stanton MO

Created in 1926 it protects over 40 caves and a forested landscape.   Fisher Cave sports massive columns and bear claw marks from the past.

Exhibits in the visitor center interpret the natural and cultural features of the park. No visit to the park would be complete without a tour of Fisher Cave with hand-held lights.

Meramec River

The Meramec River flows by majestic bluffs, wooded areas and a dramatic cave entrance.

 

More than 13 miles of hiking trails are available for exploring the park

 The once Historic Route 66, of the most famous roads in the United States that ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona and ended  in Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covered a total of 2,448 miles.  It has always been iconic for roadside stops….dinners…antiquing…and many historical sites.  Although it longer exists, you can still “get your kicks” on the path it took through the United States on other highways and roads.  In this series, I will highlight the many places you can stop to explore nature along this route….focusing on spots in the Midwest.  Looking for more stops….check out this guide.

And here are a few other great resources.

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America’s Best Day Hikes       Great Hiking Trails of the World

66 Hikes on Route 66 – #7 – Cal-Sag Trail

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Imagine a marathon trail (at just over 26 miles, we mean that literally) connecting across the Chicago Southland from Indiana and the Chicago Lakefront to Lemont, Illinois and the I&M Canal Trail.

Imagine a channel that’s seen its share of booms and busts becoming a destination for recreation, a nature corridor, and a driver of good health and high quality of life.

Imagine discovering it was real. Welcome to the Cal-Sag Trail.

https://www.calsagtrail.org/

The once Historic Route 66, of the most famous roads in the United States that ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona and ended  in Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covered a total of 2,448 miles.  It has always been iconic for roadside stops….dinners…antiquing…and many historical sites.  Although it longer exists, you can still “get your kicks” on the path it took through the United States on other highways and roads.  In this series, I will highlight the many places you can stop to explore nature along this route….focusing on spots in the Midwest.  Looking for more stops….check out this guide.

66 Hikes Along Rt. 66 – #4 – Starved Rock

 

 

Plan to be surprised and awed at the spectacular natural features found here at Starved Rock in Illinois.

Surrounded by the flat, seemingly endless fields of Illinois farm country, a totally different topography is found within the park. Starved Rock was formed thousands of years ago by the melting of glaciers releasing torrents of water. As the water rushed downstream it eroded and stripped away everything in its path except the resistant St. Peter sandstone. It is that sandstone that formed the steep rock walls and the cool dark valleys of the eighteen canyons. When conditions are right cascades of falling water spill down into these gorges, creating the waterfalls so many come here to enjoy.

WATERFALLS
Although you can technically see waterfalls in 14 of the 18 canyons, some of the most scenic waterfalls are found in St. Louis, French, Wildcat, Tonty, Ottawa and Kaskaskia canyons. The best times to see waterfalls are in the spring when the snow and ice melt or after a heavy rainfall.

ICEFALLS
Winter brings a whole new life to the canyons. The freezing and melting that happens during this time of year creates amazing ice sculptures in the canyons. Make sure you come back in the winter to see an icefall – they are spectacular!

600 million years ago Northern Illinois was part of a broad upland that was undergoing extensive erosion. The erosion wore
the land down to near sea level. Erosion that forms a near sea
level surface is called a peneplain. This peneplain was submerged several times by sea water and several layers of sediment were laid on the surface.
Starved Rock State Park was once covered with 3000-5000
feet of glacial ice on and off over a course of 700,000 years.
Glacial ice can move forwards never backwards. When a glacier is said to be retreating, it is actually melting faster than it is
moving forward. As glacial ice can only move forward, it picks
up rocks and carries them in the ice. When the ice melts, these
rock particles are dropped at the point of melting. All dropped
rock material is called drift. Drift found at the point of melting is
called till. Till is unsorted glacial drift. When the glacier is stagnant, the drift accumulates into a pile called an end moraine.
After the glacier has retreated, it leaves a range of irregular hills
which are the end moraine. The melt waters of the glacier were
so great that they would accumulate behind the moraines and
form vast lakes. The streams that drain these lakes were gigantic compared to today’s streams. The Illinois Valley was
formed by one of these streams.
15,000 years ago during the Wisconsinan Glacial Age, the glacial meltwater of a large lake overtopped the Marseilles Moraine and formed Lake Ottawa behind the Farm Ridge Moraine
that ran north to south along what we call Starved Rock State
Park today. This lake drained when it overtopped the Farm
Ridge Moraine cutting a channel that became the Illinois River.
Repeated meltwater floods of the Kankakee Torrent poured
through the channels cut through the Marseilles and Farm
Ridge Moraines establishing the drainage for the Illinois, Fox,
and Vermillion Rivers. This repeated drainage also cut the outcrops , overlooks, and 18 canyons that you see today.

The once Historic Route 66, of the most famous roads in the United States that ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona and ended  in Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covered a total of 2,448 miles.  It has always been iconic for roadside stops….dinners…antiquing…and many historical sites.  Although it longer exists, you can still “get your kicks” on the path it took through the United States on other highways and roads.  In this series, I will highlight the many places you can stop to explore nature along this route….focusing on spots in the Midwest.  Looking for more stops….check out this guide.

Starved Rock State Park

Rewild through Birding

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“Whether one goes to nature for truth, or for beauty, for knowledge or for relaxation, these things can be found in a yard in the city as well as a tropical jungle, for they exist in the common, simple, everyday things all about us, as well as the rare and exotic.”

~ Leonard Dubkin

 

A rewilding, brought about first through neglect and now through intentional human effort, is occurring on all over the world and certainly here in the Midwest. Over the years, I have discovered unique beauties on ambling adventures along the Wisconsin and Michigan Shoreline, and even in the heart the city…downtown Chicago.  At the Bird and Butterfly Sanctuary.

A bird lover and nature lovers Paradise.

Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary can be found by following Montrose Avenue east until crossing Lake Shore Drive and into Lincoln Park.  Visit the magic hedge, on the west side of the sanctuary, but stay on the trails as much as possible in order to not disturb the nesting and resting Birds. Make sure you take the path in One Direction and return in the opposite direction in order to navigate the whole area.

Don’t forget to walk down to the pier where you will see rare ducks,  loons, and possibly peregrine falcons.

Birding Magic

A small bird creeps out of a thicket and is greeted by flashing lights and muffled whispers. Welcome to the celebrity life of a bird along the “Magic Hedge.”

A small finger curling out into the lake, Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary can boast in having over 300 species recorded, including some of the rarest birds ever recorded in the state.  A small stretch of low-lying bushes and small trees on the west side of the sanctuary in particular have been a magnet for migrating songbirds and rarities.  Some would say that the hedge seems to bring birds in like magic.  The nickname for this spot is fitting: “The Magic Hedge.”

A definite must if you’re ever in the area!

66 Hikes Along Route 66 – #3

The Wauponsee Glacial Trail

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Trail History

The 275-acre Wauponsee Glacial Trail was acquired between 2004 and 2016.

Prior to the District’s acquisition of the land, it was two abandoned railroads: Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific from Joliet to Manhattan and the Wabash/Norfolk Southern from Manhattan to Custer Park.

The Trail

The Wauponsee Glacial Trail is a 22.42-mile paved/crushed limestone linear trail consisting of two segments.

The northern segment of the trail travels 2.80 miles from Sugar Creek Preserve north to Rowell Avenue in Joliet. This flat, paved segment of the trail travels through woodland, prairie and wetland.

The southern segment of the trail extends an additional 19.62 miles from Sugar Creek Preserve south to the Kankakee River. This flat, crushed limestone segment of the trail travels through prairie. It is ideal for the following activities:

You will cross bridges and  you might even see some wild turkeys…

Image result for wauponsee glacial trail

Image result for wauponsee glacial trail

The once Historic Route 66, of the most famous roads in the United States that ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona and ended  in Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covered a total of 2,448 miles.  It has always been iconic for roadside stops….dinners…antiquing…and many historical sites.  Although it longer exists, you can still “get your kicks” on the path it took through the United States on other highways and roads.  In this series, I will highlight the many places you can stop to explore nature along this route….focusing on spots in the Midwest.  Looking for more stops….check out this guide.

 

https://www.reconnectwithnature.org/preserves-trails/trails/wauponsee-glacial-trail

66 Hikes Along Route 66 – #1

Gebhard Woods State Park in Morris, Illinois 

 

Don’t let the snow and cold slow you down. Hiking at Gebhard Woods State Park is a popular activity  on this 30-acre site. Located in Morris, this picturesque park is bordered on the south by the Illinois & Michigan Canal and to the north by Nettle Creek, which gently flows along the perimeter and through the park, adding to its natural beauty and abundance of wildlife. Stately old trees including walnut, oak, ash, maple, sycamore, hawthorn and cottonwood provide ample shade throughout the park. In the spring, trillium, bluebell, white trout lily, violets, wild ginger, phlox, toothwort and spring beauties are just a sample of the wildflowers that can be enjoyed by park visitors.​​​​
And Gebhard Woods is a footbridge away from the historic Illinois & Michigan Canal State Trail. This 61 mile trail on the old canal towpath is easy walking and gives access to unparalleled scenic and historic sights.  The trail is marked and has various wayside exhibits that describe canal era features encountered along the way.