Moraine Hills derives its name from a geologic formation known as a moraine, which is an accumulation of boulders, stones and other debris deposited by a glacier. As glacial ice melted here following the Wisconsin glaciation period, it left gravel-rich deposits called kames that make up the park’s wooded hills and ridges.
From fishing to hiking and biking – from lush habitat and rare plants to watching a wealth of wildlife – Moraine Hills State Park is home to a recreational bounty in northeast Illinois. Located 3 miles south of McHenry in McHenry County, the park is located near the Fox River and McHenry Dam, with about half of the park’s 2,200 acres composed of wetlands and lakes.
In 1939, the State of Illinois made the initial McHenry Dam State Park land acquisition of 15 acres on the east bank of the Fox River. Major acquisition of the Lake Defiance area began in 1971, and construction of park facilities took place in the spring of 1975. The present Moraine Hills State Park opened in October 1976. The park name is derived from a geologic formation known as a moraine, which is an accumulation of boulders, stones and other debris deposited by a glacier.
The 48-acre Lake Defiance, located near the center of the park, is one of the few glacial lakes in Illinois that has remained largely undeveloped, maintaining a near-natural condition.
The waters and wetlands of Moraine Hills are home to abundant wildlife; more than 200 species of birds have been identified at the park. Fishing is available on both Lake Defiance and on the Fox River. The McHenry Dam area provides access to the Fox River, and a fishing pier accessible. More than 10 miles of trails make Moraine Hills popular for hikers, skiers and cyclists, and provide one of the park’s main recreation features.
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).
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/
North Dakota Adventure
Whether you prefer hiking, canoeing or kayaking, winding along the bends of the Pembina River through the panoramic Pembina Gorge is a must for any nature lover. Enjoy the recreational, historical and natural scenery opportunities of this scenic North Dakota nook.
Rendezvous RegionWalhalla, ND
Head to the full-service Woodland Resort for unbeatable boating and fishing. The resort also boasts a restaurant, cabins, motel, campground, bait shop and boat rentals, along with a full-service winter ice fishing headquarters with fish house rental and guided ice fishing packages available.
1012 Woodland DriveDevils Lake, ND 58301
LAKE METIGOSHE STATE PARK
Nestled in the scenic Turtle Mountains on the shores of Lake Metigoshe, this state park includes several miles of rolling hills and multi-use trails. Amazing canoeing, kayaking and fishing opportunities abound on one of the cleanest natural fresh-water lakes in North Dakota. Cabin rentals are available in summer and winter
For more info visit https://www.ndtourism.com/best-places/11-great-north-dakota-outdoor-adventures
Looking for adventure in Minnesota….
It’s always worth visiting the North Shore, but in September and October, the region transforms into a truly magical destination that practically insists on becoming your annual vacation spot.
One of the hardest things about planning your first Boundary Waters trip is deciding where to go within the vast preserve’s 1,200 miles of canoe routes, 11 hiking trails and approximately 2,000 designated campsites. This four-day itinerary highlights some of the best sights and camping spots along a moderate course, and ends with a hearty dose of small town Minnesota on the final day—a complete “Up North” experience if there ever was one.
Minnesota boasts dozens of trails for all-terrain vehicle riders. Opportunities exist for riders throughout Minnesota, with the majority of trails clustered in the northern part of the state. There are trails to match every skill level, from flat and open trails that cater to beginners, to narrow, winding trails that will challenge even the most experienced riders.
Voyageurs National Park is Minnesota’s only full-fledged national park. It is uniquely water-based among national parks, with its interior accessible only by water. 240 camping, houseboat and day-use sites dot the shores of four large, island-studded lakes, and dozens of smaller lakes, along the Canadian border.
The Boundary Waters is a true wilderness preserved within Superior National Forest’s 3 million acres, and offers its many visitors an experience of a lifetime. But it isn’t the only place to take in the area’s beauty. Much of the forest shares the BWCAW’s distinctive, rugged beauty.
Six diverse and unique national park sites can be found in Minnesota, preserving and highlighting some of our most distinctive natural, historical and cultural resources.
For more information on these and other ideas visit http://www.exploreminnesota.com/travel-ideas/all-travel-ideas
If you want to see plenty of exciting wild life creatures up close……………plan a kayak trip on the Fox River in the Summer months. On a recent 3 hour kayak expedition during the month of August, one can plan to see and photograph large mouth bass jumping out of the water after flies and smaller flying creatures. Turtles swimming around the lily pads close to the river banks. Carp spawning in the creamy mud banks alongside the river.
In addition to the many underwater animals you’ll see many large flying birds such as Blue Herons, swallows and cranes hunting alongside the river banks for small insects and fish. As you round each bend and turn on the river you never know what to expect or what you will see. A true adventure awaits you on the Fox River in McHenry County, Illinois.