Hike & Go Seek – The Grand Illinois Trail

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The Grand Illinois Trail (GIT) is over 535 miles in length and is the longest cycling loop trail in Illinois.  It extends from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi along the northern border of Illinois.   Parts of it are in the coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail.  The GIT was started in l992 and offers much for riders too.  Since it routes through the prairie state, it contains flat and easy to ride portions through green farmlands and pastoral vistas.  The GIT also gives touring cyclists special glimpses into much of the essence of Illinois like……….Chicago streetscapes  and trails along Lake Michigan; the hilly and picturesque geography of Jo Davies’ County; the mighty Mississippi river itself; Small Town America and medium sized cities and suburbs.

 

There is approximately 200 miles of the trail on paved township and county roads while the rest is on limestone trails or paths.  There is a GIT Trail Guide that was jointly produced by Ride Illinois and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources that is easily downloadable and helps to promote the use of this beautiful long distance bike route in the state of Illinois.  The guide divides the trail into ten segments each with a map and cue sheet for directions and local features to enjoy along the way.  In the guide you will also find information on lodging, food, camping and bike repair and detailed maps will guide you through areas with many turns.  You can download the GIT map and brochure at www.rideillinois.org.
Each trail section has its own special history and history of development.  Particularly noteworthy is the famous Prairie Path that runs through the western suburbs of Chicago and was the first long rail-trail development in America along with the great Chicago Lakefront trail.  The best long section of the GIT is the southern section along the state canal trails between Joliet and the Quad Cities.   (wiki)

The Chief Shabbona Trail

The Chief Shabbona Trail is a part of the 61 mile long National Park Service Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor that is ideal for hiking, bicycling and canoeing.  The trail is open year round and all activities just mentioned are free to the public.  While the trail offers eight different access points allowing for various trail lengths, you can earn the official Chief Shabbona Patch by completing the 15 mile stretch from Channahon to Gebhard Woods.
Well protected from traffic and the elements, the Shabbona Trail is primarily a compacted gravel trail and there is only one point where a rural two-lane road is crossed.  The remainder of the trail is a National Park Service trail that is maintained by the State of Illinois.  Much of the trail is near the Illinois River and is mostly tree lined making it an ideal location for hiking and backpacking, bicylcing, canoeing or kayaking, and cross country skiing.
Established on July 30th, 1960 by Troop 25, The Chief Shabbona Historical Trail is Nationally Approved by the Boy Scouts of America and follows the paths that Shabbona was known to have walked.  Over 10,000 scouts have hiked the trail by 1963.  In 2010 the trail celebrated its’ 50 anniversary.  While hiking along the trail you will see full size replicas of canal boats, a locktender’s house, working stone blocks and a fully restored stone aqueducts…..which date back to the mid 19th century.
The nearby Illinois River provides for many panoramic views while the habitat ranges from dense woods to open prairie grasslands.  The trail is shaded in most areas by a variety of trees including walnut, oak, ash, maple, sycamore, hawthorn and cottonwood.  If you are into birding, you will find songbirds, mallards, wood ducks, green herons and great blue herons feeding and nesting along the trail.  If you are also into fishing…….you can try your hand at catching bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish and bullhead.   Other wildlife include beaver, muskrat, mink, raccoon and deer can often be seen.    wiki
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Hike & Go Seek – Starved Rock

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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.

Starved Rock State Park

 

And here are a few other great resources.

168268265X      

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

Birding in Illinois in April

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One of my favorites, The mourning dove is a member of the dove family, Columbidae. The bird is also known as the American mourning dove or the rain dove, and erroneously as the turtle dove, and was once known as the Carolina pigeon or Carolina turtledove.  It is one of the most abundant and widespread of all North American birds. It is also a leading gamebird, with more than 20 million birds (up to 70 million in some years) shot annually in the U.S., both for sport and for meat. Its ability to sustain its population under such pressure is due to its prolific breeding; in warm areas, one pair may raise up to six broods of two young each in a single year. The wings make an unusual whistling sound upon take-off and landing, a form of sonation. The bird is a strong flier, capable of speeds up to 88 km/h (55 mph).  It is the national bird of the British Virgin Islands.

Mourning doves are light grey and brown and generally muted in color. Males and females are similar in appearance. The species is generally monogamous, with two squabs (young) per brood. Both parents incubate and care for the young. Mourning doves eat almost exclusively seeds, but the young are fed crop milk by their parents.

 

Yellow rail adults have brown upperparts streaked with black, a yellowish-brown breast, a light belly and barred flanks. The short thick dark bill turns yellow in males during the breeding season. The feathers on the back are edged with white. There is a yellow-brown band over the eye and the legs are greenish-yellow.

Love the Sandhill Crane!  A species of large cranes of North America and extreme northeastern Siberia. The common name of this bird refers to habitat like that at the Platte River, on the edge of Nebraska’s Sandhills on the American Plains. This is the most important stopover area for the nominotypical subspecies, the lesser sandhill crane (Antigone canadensis canadensis), with up to 450,000 of these birds migrating through annually. (wiki)

 

Here are some good resources if you like birding:

         1591934060

             National Geographic Birds               Birds of the Midwest

Hike & Go Seek – Wauponsee Glacial Trail

Image result for wauponsee glacial trail in winter

“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

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

For some great resources:

168268265X      

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

 

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

Winter at Starved Rock

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.

http://starvedrock.org/plan-your-visit/trail-maps-and-hikes/st-louis-canyon/

Robertsville State Park – Illinois — Planned Spontaneity

My goal for 2020 is to adventure more. Whether it is hiking, camping or just exploring, I want to do more of it in 2020. We recently took a drive to Robertsville State Park to check it out. This park is located along the Meramec River. It is a smaller park, but still beautiful in […]

via Robertsville State Park – Illinois — Planned Spontaneity

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.

Neighborhood Colors in Siouxland, Sioux City

Neighborhood Colors in Siouxland, Sioux City

https://lostinsiouxland.wordpress.com/2019/11/07/neighborhood-colors-in-siouxland-sioux-city/
— Read on lostinsiouxland.wordpress.com/2019/11/07/neighborhood-colors-in-siouxland-sioux-city/

Morman Pioneer National Historic Trail

A pointed bluff landmark sticks out above a flat valley with large green shrubs.

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

Martins Cove, Wyoming

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.

On March 1, 1846, some 500 Mormon wagons lurched northwesterly across the winter-

National Trails Intermountain Region
Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail
PO Box 728 

Santa Fe, NM 87504

Phone:

(801) 741-1012

https://www.nps.gov/mopi/index.htm