Discover the magic of Secret Falls — Plateau Daily News

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ecret Falls is a hidden gem nestled just south of downtown Highlands that makes for an excellent day hike.

A half-mile hike leads to a multi-tiered Secret Falls off Horse Cove Road. Visitors can see the falls from the top, by the swim hole at its base, or a riverbend downstream with several small drop-offs. The view from the bend in the river is a 180-degrees of waterfall splendor.

Pictured below is Secret Falls

Brandon Anderson made the trip from Waynesville and said he had the day off and wanted to hike something in Western North Carolina.

“I thought it was awesome,” said Anderson. “It’s tucked away down here so it’s not crowded, and it’s not too much of a hike and it’s really scenic.”

There are two creek crossings that are spanned by logs and the trail is well marked by blue rectangles making it easy to follow.

Directions from Highlands:

Head east from Highlands on Horse Cove Road and drive approx. 4 miles and turn right on Walking Stick Road.

Directions from Cashiers:

Drive southeast on Highway 107 for approx. 2 miles and turn right on Whiteside Cove Road. Travel approx. 9 miles on Whiteside Cove Road and turn right onto Horse Cove Road. Drive a mile and turn left on Walking Stick Road.

Beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota

South Dakota's Black Hills.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.

 

Rock Climbing

 

https://www.fs.usda.gov/blackhills

Hike and Go Seek – Snowy trails of the Midwest

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!

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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

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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

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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!

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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.

Wonderstruck by Waterfalls

Top Waterfalls of the Midwest

 

Hickory Canyons National Area – Missouri

Hickory Canyons

This area is botanically rich, supporting 541 native vascular plant species and 152 bryophyte (liverworts and mosses) species. A number of these species are considered glacial relicts. Glacial relicts are species that were more common in Missouri 12,000 years ago during the last Ice Age. Since then, the climate has warmed, forcing some species to inhabit micro-climates that mimic the cool, moist conditions of glacial times. Glacial relicts at Hickory Canyons include hay-scented fern, fir clubmoss and winterberry. The area is rich in fern species with over a dozen species represented.

The Lamotte sandstone here was formed from the sandy beaches of a shallow ocean that existed 500 million years ago. Layers of limestone were deposited over the sandstone, but millions of years of erosion and uplift of the Ozark Plateau exposed the sandstone we see today. After a rain event a wet-weather waterfall can be enjoyed from the end of the hiking trail on the east side of the county road. In the spring the headwater creeks here are a good place to spot a Louisiana waterthrush.

https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places/hickory-canyons

 

Starved Rock State Park – Illinois

 

There are over 13 miles (21 km) of hiking trails in Starved Rock State Park. There are 18 deep canyons in the park; French, LaSalle, Ottawa and St. Louis Canyons feature the more long-lasting waterfalls at Starved Rock.  A trail along the river offers scenic views from attractions such as Lover’s Leap Overlook, Eagle Cliff Overlook and Beehive Overlook. Camping, boating and fishing are among the other activities offered in the park.There are 133 campsites at Starved Rock State Park, of those 100 can be reserved. There are also horseback riding trails at Starved Rock on the far western side of the park.

 

French Canyon

From December through February bald eagles can be viewed at the park, either fishing below the Starved Rock Dam, where turbulent waters stay unfrozen during the cold winter months or roosting on the Leopold or Plum Island. The Starved Rock State Park Visitor Center loans out binoculars to aspiring birders in exchange for the birder’s drivers license. During the winter, sports such as ice skating, tobogganing, cross-country skiing and sledding are allowed in parts of the park. Snowmobiling is not allowed at Starved Rock State Park.  Waterfalls become constantly changing ice falls during the winter as well.  14 of 18 waterfalls transform into scenic ice falls, with those at LaSalle, French, St. Louis, Tonty, Wildcat, Hennepin, Ottawa and Kaskaskia Canyons being especially scenic.   Ice climbing is another winter activity allowed in select canyons.

 

Hocking Hills State Park – Ohio

 

Hocking Hills State Park is a state park in the Hocking Hills region of Hocking County, Ohio, United States; in some areas adjoining the Hocking State Forest. Within the park are over 25 miles of hiking trails, rock formations, waterfalls, and recess caves. The trails are open from dawn to dusk, all year round including holidays.
The park contains seven separate hiking areas: Ash Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, Cedar Falls, Conkle’s Hollow (nature preserve), Old Man’s Cave, Rock House and Hemlock Bridge Trail to Whispering Cave. 

The area is very popular with tourists and collectively is known as the Hocking Hills Region. It features many private inns, campgrounds, cabins, restaurants, and other related businesses, including a recently developed zipline.

Cataract Falls – Indiana

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Cataract Falls is a waterfall located in northern Owen County in the west central part of the U.S. state of Indiana. The largest waterfall by volume in the state, it is part of the Lieber State Recreation Area.

Cataract Falls consists of two sets of waterfalls on Mill Creek separated by about 1 mile (1.6 km). Both falls consist of a series of drops. The total height of the Upper Falls is approximately 45 feet (14 m), while that of the Lower Falls is about 30 feet (9.1 m).

Immediately downstream of the Lower Falls, Mill Creek enters the southern end of Cagles Mill Lake, near the towns of Cunot and Cataract. The falls are just off State Road 42 and close to State Road 243.

66 Hikes Along Route 66 – Petrified Forest National Park

Although a bit west of what is considered the tradition Midwest, Petrified Forest National Park is an American national park in Navajo and Apache counties in northeastern Arizona. Named for its large deposits of petrified wood, park covers about 230 square miles, encompassing semi-desert shrub steppe as well as highly eroded and colorful badlands.

The Petrified Forest is known for its fossils, especially fallen trees that lived in the Late Triassic Epoch.  The sediments containing the fossil logs are part of the widespread and colorful Chinle Formation, from which the Painted Desert gets its name.

The park’s seven maintained hiking trails, some paved, vary in length from less than 0.5 miles (0.8 km) to nearly 3 miles.  These named trails are Painted Desert Rim, Puerco Pueblo, Blue Mesa, Crystal Forest, Giant Logs, Long Logs, and Agate House.  Hikers and backpackers may also visit the park’s wilderness areas.

1000px-Shortgrass_pano_Petrified_Forest_NPPanorama of shortgrass prairie near Dry Wash in the southern section of the park.

Some of the larger animals roaming the grasslands include pronghorns, black-tailed jackrabbits (hares), Gunnison’s prairie dogs, coyotes, bobcats and foxes. Bobcats and bullsnakes hunt smaller animals, such as deer mice and white-tailed antelope squirrels in the park’s riparian zones.  More than 16 kinds of lizards and snakes live in various habitats in 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

A Classic Birding Adventure — ASIC Photo

Fellow bird fans will likely have experienced this kind of adventure. The camera gear is double-checked and ready, a new spot has been chosen to visit, and a lot of research has been done into the kind of territory it is, the habitat and features selected carefully. On this trip, I was determined to scour…

via A Classic Birding Adventure — ASIC Photo