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.
Located in the Rock River Hills region of Illinois you will find 2000 acres of rolling topography. Awesome rock formations and ravines abound as well as unique northern plant associations.
Enjoy six miles of trials and you will encounter woodland animals and birds inhabiting the park. Bring your camera!
How did it get it’s name? A sandstone bluff along the river. Castle Rock is a bluff of exposed St. Peter Sandstone from the Middle Ordovician period. Newly exposed sections are white quartz, while older areas have browner tints from the formation of limonite. The bluff is along the axis of the Sandwich Fault Zone, separating Ordovician exposures from those of the Cambrian period.
Castle Rock State Park was one of eleven state parks slated to close indefinitely on November 1, 2008 due to budget cuts by former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. After delay, which restored funding for some of the parks, a proposal to close seven state parks and a dozen state historic sites, including Castle Rock, went ahead on November 30, 2008. After the impeachment of Illinois Governor Blagojevich, new governor Pat Quinn reopened the closed state parks in February. In March 2009 Quinn announced he is committed to reopening the state historic sites by June 30, 2009.
Located on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan in Manistee Township, Manistee County, Michigan……Orchard Beach State Park is a public recreation area covering 201 acres just north of the city Manistee which has a beach, campground and hiking trails. The park dates back to 1892 when it first opened and was developed by the Manistee, Filer City and Eastlake Railway Company. The site was purchased by the Manistee Board of Commerce after the company stopped trolley service to the park and then became part of the Michigan state park system in 1921. The Civilian Conservation Corps was active in the park during the 1930’s and Corps efforts included the construction of several limestone structures including a pump house, pavilion, line house and toilet. In 2009 the park was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places having been cited as “one of the most intact examples of a Michigan state park developed in the 1930’s and 1940’s under National Park Service guidelines. In 2019 it was reported that erosion caused by high water levels on Lake Michigan threatened the park’s historic pavilion with destruction. The pavilion stands only 50 feet from the edge of the bluff. High water had covered the sandy beach at the base of the bluff below the pavilion since 2017 and the stairway built to access the beach from the pavilion led straight into the high waters of Lake Michigan. As for activities and amenities the park offers swimming, fishing, three miles of hiking trails, picknicking facilities and a 166 site campground. (wiki)
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)
Looking for some of the funnest and most scenic trails around Michigan. Copper Harbor is your spot. It is an all-season resort town in northeastern Keweenaw County, Michigan located on the Keweenaw Peninsula which juts out from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan into Lake Superior. Due to its natural environment and surroundings it is a popular tourist destination within the Great Lakes region.
One popular spot for visitors is Hunter’s Island which is the name of a non-hilly point running out from the west into Lake Superior. It was named for an early settler of the area named Mr. Hunter who owned a tract of land on what is now Hunter’s Point or Hunter’s Island.
Situated at the opening of the harbor itself is the historic Copper Harbor Lighthouse built in 1866, replacing an earlier lighthouse made in 1849. It is only accessible via a short ride in a compact open vessel from the Copper Harbor marina. Exhibits inside the lighthouse museum cover both the lighthouse history along with the local shipwreck culture of the area.
Another popular site known as “the most beautiful road in Michigan” is the Brockway Mountain Drive that is an 8.8 mile route that follows the backbone of a 753-foot-high ridge between the towns of Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor and is the highest paved road between the Rocky Mountains to the west and the Allegheny Mountains to the east. Constructed during the 30’s, this very picturesque road offers stunning views of Lake Superior and Keweenaw Penisula as well as the archipelago of Isle Royale.
Located on the Northwest end of Lake Superior near the town of Laurentia, you will find the island called Isle Royale. It is part of the state of Michigan and along with 450 surrounding islands it makes up the territory called Isle Royale. This whole cluster of islands is 45 miles long and 9 miles wide covering over 206 miles in total area making it the fourth largest lake island in the world. In addition, it is the second largest island located in the Great Lakes and the largest natural island in Lake Superior.
Isle Royale is only about 15 miles of the Canadian and Minnesotan shores of the lake. There are no roads on the island making hiking the main method of movement and transportation. In Rock Harbor one can find wheeled carts available to move personal belongings from the Rock Harbor marina to the cabins and hotel.
Isle Royale was given to the United States by the 1783 treaty with Great Britain but the British remained in control of this land until after the War of 1812 and the already settled Ojibwa peoples considered the island to be their territory. The island was once the site of several lake trout and whitefish fisheries as well as a few resorts but as of today there are no permanent inhabitants. A major attraction to the island are it’s several shipwrecks located on the western tip making for exciting scuba dives and providing a glimpse into some maritime history of the area.
As for recreational activities one can enjoy hiking, backpacking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking and bird watching. Wheeled vehicles are not permitted on Isle Royale such as bicycles or canoe portage devices. There are many campgrounds to explore with most of them being accessible only by water. There are two small settlements on the island and they are Rock Harbor (which has a resort, marina and basic amenities) and Windigo, a smaller facility on the far western end of the island. A typical National Park Service campground will consist of a few shelters (cabin-like structures with one wall of mosquito-proof screen), individual tent sites with a picnic table and group camping sites. There are one or more pit toilets at each facility. Campgrounds along the shore have a boat dock and overnight boaters are a common sight at the campgrounds. The waterfront locations also attract many canoeists and kayakers. Please note that no wells are available so one should plan to bring their own water for the trip.
There are over 170 miles of hiking trails for everything from day hikes to a two week circumnavigation kike with some of the trails having steep grades that are quite challenging. The most popular, best marked and longest single route in the 40 mile Greenstone Ridge Trail that extends down the island’s backbone. A memorable adventure for the serious hiker.
As with last weeks post, I have been digging through the archives to find captures that I have not done anything with. That being said, we are jumping back to 2013 in North Bend, Washington. North Bend is on the western side of the Cascade Mountain Range just east of Seattle. The town is nestled in a beautiful valley and is home to numerous hiking trails and some pretty intense ones at that.
Todays captures come from two different trails, the first one is called Little Si and is rated low to intermediate.
I miss the lushness of the Pacific Northwest woods…….
I love the way the sun was shining through the forest canopy on these moss covered boulders.
The next three captures are from the Twin Falls trail. I have shared numerous shots of the falls, but nothing from the trail to get to them.
Located on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan in Manistee Township, Manistee County, Michigan……Orchard Beach State Park is a public recreation area covering 201 acres just north of the city Manistee which has a beach, campground and hiking trails.
The park dates back to 1892 when it first opened and was developed by the Manistee, Filer City and Eastlake Railway Company. The site was purchased by the Manistee Board of Commerce after the company stopped trolley service to the park and then became part of the Michigan state park system in 1921.
The Civilian Conservation Corps was active in the park during the 1930’s and Corps efforts included the construction of several limestone structures including a pump house, pavilion, line house and toilet. In 2009 the park was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places having been cited as “one of the most intact examples of a Michigan state park developed in the 1930’s and 1940’s under National Park Service guidelines.
In 2019 it was reported that erosion caused by high water levels on Lake Michigan threatened the park’s historic pavilion with destruction. The pavilion stands only 50 feet from the edge of the bluff. High water had covered the sandy beach at the base of the bluff below the pavilion since 2017 and the stairway built to access the beach from the pavilion led straight into the high waters of Lake Michigan.
As for activities and amenities the park offers swimming, fishing, three miles of hiking trails, picknicking facilities and a 166 site campground.
The N.C.T. or generally known as the North Country Trail is a footpath stretching over 4,600 miles from Central Vermont (Middlebury) to Lake Sakakawea State Park in central North Dakota connecting both the Long Trail with the Lewis & Clark Trail. Passing through eight states….it is the longest of eleven National Scenic Trails that combine for a total of 3,129 miles to explore.
The trail begins in Vermont and proceeds to the western end of the state….cutting across northwestern Pennsylvania then follows southwest through the hilly region of southern Ohio until in gets near Cincinnati turning north through western Ohio on to the hills of southeast Michigan. It continues from southeast Michigan through the western Lower Penisula, crosses the Straits of Mackinac and takes a northern route through the Upper Penisula. After crossing northern Wisconsin, one leg follows the shores of Lake Superior onwards to the northeast corner of Minnesota before turning west where it meets the other leg in central northern Minnesota. The trail enters southeast North Dakota and continues to its other termination point in the center of the state.
The NCT also threads its way through 57 state parks and state historic areas, 47 state forests, 22 state game areas, seven water conversation districts and at least ten county forests and parks. Several hundred miles of trail will eventually cross private land thanks to owners who have granted easements across their property.
There are about 10,000 people involved with the NCT either through membership in the North Country Trail Association or membership in one of eight organizations affiliated with the NCTA.
With the warmer weather and states opening up after long months of social distancing, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite regions of the United States – the highest rocky headlands of Maine and Acadia National Park, located near the city of Bar Harbor. I traveled to Maine right after my Kilimanjaro […]