A photo essay………… (and yes, it is 30 degrees here in Illinois and will be all week)
Kankakee River State Park, a treasured and historical area for centuries, is an Illinois state park on 4,000 acres. Originally, 35 acres (14 ha) of land was donated by Ethel Sturges Dummer for the creation of the state park in 1938. Another 1,715 acres (694 ha) was donated by Commonwealth Edison in 1956, which again donated more land in 1989. The area includes three amazing river islands.
There are plenty of hiking trails throughout the park that go through different ecosystems and different park features. While some go along the Kankakee River, with places to sit along the river, others go into the forests or along Rock Creek, a tributary of the Kankakee River that cuts through the ground, creating a gorge with cliffs. The trails are very diverse. The site is very good for mushroom hunting.
The park’s trails stretch along both sides of the river. Hiking, biking and cross-country ski trails are on the river’s north side. Horse and snowmobile trails can be found on the south. A 3-mile route along Rock Creek lets hikers take in the beauty of limestone canyons and a waterfall. A bicycle trail begins at Davis Creek Area and travels 10.5 miles of trails in the form of a linear trail along the river and a loop in the west end of the park.
“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure one of them is dirt” – John Muir (Essential Muir – A collection of Muir’s Writings)
The Wauponsee Glacial Trail of Illinois
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 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…
For some great resources:
Don’t let a snowy forecast stop you from setting aside time for a enjoying the great outdoors. Head to the woods for a peaceful hike, snow shoeing or cross country skiing.
Turkey Run State Park, Indiana For picturesque views!
You’ll marvel at the natural geologic wonders of this beautiful park as you hike along its famous trails. Nestled along State Road 47 southwest of Crawfordsville, the park offers the chance to explore deep, sandstone ravines, walk along stands of aged forests, and enjoy the scenic views along Sugar Creek.
Door County, Wisconsin
Sightseeing along frozen Lake Michigan
Many people call Door County the Cape Cod of the Midwest, and that’s no less true in winter, when snow covers the picturesque northeast Wisconsin peninsula. Shops, galleries and inns stay open for visitors who come for cozy shopping and peaceful walks along frozen Lake Michigan beaches. Sleigh rides, trolley tours and wine tastings round out a romantic weekend.
Interstate State Park, Wisconsin and Minnesota
Hardy hikers can snowshoe on fresh white snow
Interstate Park comprises two adjacent state parks on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, both names Interstate State Park. The staddle the Dalles of the beautiful St. Croix River, a deep basalt gorge with glacial potholes and other rock formations.
Southwest Lake Michigan shore
A stunning winter lighthouse road trip landscape!
Every winter, lake-effect storms leave southwest Michigan’s lighthouses and sand dunes cloaked in ice and snow. From South Haven to New Buffalo and beyond winter is the perfect time to take a road trip along Lake Michigan, especially since the beautiful scenes of winter are in full force now.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
And here are a few great resources for some great hikes!!
White Pines Forest State Park is an Illinois state park in Ogle County, Illinois, which is a 385 acre park that contains the southernmost remaining stand of native white pine trees in the state of Illinois designated an Illinois Nature preserve in 2001. The park contains two freshwater streams, dolomite rock formations and a variety of activities generally associated with Illinois state parks.
Among the park’s most distinctive and well known features are the vehicular river crossings. At three places, crossing Pine Creek, fords were constructed instead of bridges. The fords offer visitors a chance to actually drive through the creek, though high water frequently closes the crossings. Hikers are relegated to pedestrian bridges or stepping stones in the creek to cross the stream. Floods are frequent enough on Pine Creek, a large watershed to the north of the park, that there is an emergency exit from the campground. When high water closes the fords, the campground is cut off and the emergency exit is the only way out.
The banks of Pine Creek and Spring Creek are lined with large rock and cliff formations that provide habitat to plants ranging from large trees to moss to hanging vines. The forest undergrowth provides small mammal habitats and among the mammals that can be seen include red squirrels, raccoons, deer and chipmunks. The creeks are populated with smallmouth bass, rock bass, channel catfish and , when they are stocked by the IDNR, rainbow trout.
The park is Illinois’ third oldest and has become one of the state’s most visited parks hosting over 350,000 visitors each year. During the warmer months picknicking, camping, lodging, hiking and fishing are available. The lodge and cabins are listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Books you might like:
And just released last month by Scott Stillman…Nature’s Silent Message
Fort Sheridan is a residential neighborhood located within the cities of Highwood, Lake Forest and Highland Park, Illinois. It was originally established as Fort Sheridan, an Army post named after the Civil War cavalry general Philip Sheridan to honor his services to Chicago.
There is a forest preserve that is operated by Lake County Forest Preserves which includes 250 acres of the former fort. The preserve has roughly 4.5 miles of hiking trail, 3.7 miles of trail for cross country skiing and 1.3 miles of trail for biking. The preserve also includes 0.75 miles of shoreline property alongside Lake Michigan. Throughout the preserve there are educational exhibits and viewing stations along the trails.
In 1984 parts of Fort Sheridan were designated a National Historic Landmark District by the National Park Service who stated that the site “possesses national significance in commemorating the history of the United States of America.” The historic districts includes 230 acres of land and buildings which include officers’ quarters, barracks, stables, a drill hall, water tower and many other institutional buildings. Also there is the 54 acre parade ground which was preserved as open space. (wiki)
Think there is not much wilderness left in the United States…think again. And while much of it is in such states as California, Arizona, Washington and Alaska, we have a gem right here in the Midwest – Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota!
Bordering the Arrowhead Region of the Canadian Board, the combined region of the BWCAW, Superior National Forest, Voyageurs National Park, and Ontario’s Quetico and La Verendrye Provincial Parks make up a large area of contiguous wilderness lakes and forests called the “Quetico-Superior country”, or simply the Boundary Waters. Lake Superior lies to the south and east of the Boundary Waters.
190,000 acres, nearly 20% of the BWCAW’s total area is water. Within the borders of the area are over 1,100 lakes and hundreds of miles of rivers and streams. Much of the other 80% of the area is forest. The BWCAW contains the largest remaining area of uncut forest in the eastern portion of the United States.
The Boundary Waters area is within the Laurentian Mixed Forest Province (commonly called the “North Woods”), a transitional zone between the boreal forest to the north and the temperate hardwood forest to the south that contains characteristics of each. Trees found within the wilderness area include conifers such as red pine, eastern white pine, birch, ash and even raspberries can be found in cleared areas.
The BWCAW contains a variety of hiking trails. Shorter hikes include the trail to Eagle Mountain (7 miles) Loop trails include the Pow Wow Trail, the Snowbank Trail, and the Sioux-Hustler Trail. The Border Route Trail and Kekekabic Trail are the two longest trails running through the BWCAW. The Border Route Trail runs east-west for over 65 miles through the eastern BWCAW, beginning at the northern end of the Superior Hiking Trail and following ridges and cliffs west until it connects with the Kekekabic Trail. The Kekekabic Trail continues for another 41 miles (66 km), beginning near the Gunflint Trail and passing through the center of the BWCAW before exiting it near Snowbank Lake. Both the Border Route and the Kekekabic Trail are part of the longer North Country National Scenic Trail.
Junction of the Eagle Mountain and Brule Lake Trails