The Lost Mine Trail: We Found Hiking Gold, but No Mine — BIT|Hiker

The Lost Mine Trailhead is on Basin Junction Road near the Chisos Basin Campground. The parking area is small (about 15 cars), so it’s a good idea to get there early. In case you’re wondering, 9:30am is not early. There were no spots, but we found another tiny lot about a quarter-mile east and road-hiked back to the trailhead. The mileage on this hike includes that extra distance, but the coordinates represent the actual trailhead.

Your mileage may vary.

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As on our South Rim Loop hike (read here), we were starting in the shadow of Casa Grande Peak; this time to the east of that majestic alp. We started off uphill directly into the blinding morning sun. The temperature was hovering around 50°F, and the sky was a brilliant azure broken only occasionally by a fluffy white cloud. The first hundred yards or so was paved, but the trail soon turned to gravely dirt and began to narrow. We were hiking into the same autumn-colored forest that we had enjoyed a few days before. Casa Grande again peeked over a mottled sea of red, orange, and brown.

IMG_4780IMG_4786After gaining some altitude, we we were able to look west through The Window and see the rumpled Texas desert stretching off to the horizon. The higher we climbed, the better the view. Soon we were getting views to the south as well, down into Boot Canyon. Twisting and turning, we wound our way east toward Lost Mine Peak. The countryside was stunning; much more open than the South Rim Loop (the rim itself being a noteworthy exception, with some of the most expansive views we’ve ever seen).  Still, this climb was a delight; at every turn in the trail we had a different vista to view.

IMG_4794IMG_4815We were headed in the direction of the Lost Mine Peak, but we would not gain that summit. We found it a little peculiar that the Lost Mine Trail doesn’t go up Lost Mine Mountain. The trail instead eventually turns south and culminates on a rocky bald about three-quarters of a mile southwest of that peak. Legend has it that somewhere near the summit of the Lost Mine Mountain was a particularly lucrative gold mine run by Spanish explorers. So protective were the Spanish of their find that they made the miners (usually life-term prisoners) wear blindfolds as they marched to work from their barracks. The legend holds that a band of indigenous people of the Comanche Tribe, resentful of the European invaders, slaughtered the Spaniards, leaving no man alive who knew the location of the mine. No one has been able to find it since. Curiously, the legend also states that if, on Easter morning, one stands at the former location of the door to San Vicente’s mission (sixteen miles to the southeast on the Rio Grande), the sun’s first rays will fall on the mine’s entrance. For our part, we couldn’t have cared less about gold, except for that which gilded the leaves of nearby trees; our coffers were full to the brim with sunlight, fresh air, and magnificent views. We were rich.

IMG_4821IMG_4838IMG_4844We continued to climb, and eventually we were high enough that we were looking over some lesser peaks to the landscape beyond. A mile and a half into our ascent, we reached a series of intense switchbacks. The next mile would be a dusty back and forth to the apex of our hike, alternately looking up a wooded incline or out over the valley to Casa Grande. Due west was The Window and miles of Texas desert beyond. Immediately below us, we could see Chisos Basin and the Basin Junction threading its way through the sage and brown countryside. We bent to our task.

IMG_4880IMG_4877IMG_4851IMG_4865IMG_4859Leaving the switchbacks behind, we emerged onto a spacious, rounded bald. Here, the view truly opened up. The trail followed a ridge toward a large rock formation to the south. Other hikers were milling around, snapping photos, and chatting. Small children buzzed about, climbing on the boulders that were scattered around the ridge. The general consensus seemed to be that this was the end of the line. It was not. The trail dipped into a shallow draw and climbed back toward the distant rock formation. We continued on, determined to tramp every foot of trail available. Focused on the jumble of massive boulders ahead, we hiked on, now virtually alone.

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via The Lost Mine Trail: We Found Hiking Gold, but No Mine — BIT|Hiker

Hike and Go Seek – Peninsula State Park

Peninsula State Park is a 3,776-acre  Wisconsin state park with eight miles of Green Bay shoreline in Door County. Peninsula is the third largest state park in Wisconsin.

Upon entering the Peninsula State Park, I realized how just a few hours north created an entirely different landscape.  The trees were so tall the I could not often see the tops.  The same area that I saw on the map…..was a bit deceiving as this peninsula is surrounded by Lake Michigan on 3 sides.   I could not help but wonder…could there be bears?  My understanding growing up in Northern Illinois was that bears where “native” to upper Wisconsin.  But upon checking in and registering my car (yes…there is a fee to park), I asked.  And the seemingly gentle man behind the check in counter went”gggrrowllllll” as if joking.  But then he said….well….there have been a few sightings.  Ugh…I would be hiking alone and this is different than many of the trails I had enjoyed closer to home where they are quite populated…and yes…no bears.  So he told me that IF I did see a bear all I need to do is  to just stand up tall and  make myself  look big.  While I might be a bit big around the belly…I am certainly not tall.

And ok.. while this site is all about nature, hiking and adventure…I must say Door County offers many small quaint towns, with a vast array of shops and restaurants…lots of outdoor dining (you hear….”outdoor”…so that counts).

Oh by the way and I never did see a bear.

On Location – Glacier Park

Although still a bit barren in March, Glacial Park Conservation Area offers 3,432 acres of recreation including a wide array of prairies, wetlands and savannas.  There are over eight miles of hiking trails with a beautiful backdrop of hickory trees, oak trees. and wildflowers. It is the home for over 41 species of state endangered animals and plants.

Trekking the Interpretive Nature Trail On this 2 mile trek, call  the edge, you will search for owls, deer, wood ducks and blue birds.  This “edge” offers the perfect combination of of both woodland and grassland which is exactly what these animals need.  Many types of berries, nuts and seeds are available.

  Midwestern Birds: Backyard Guide - Watching - Feeding - Landscaping - Nurturing - Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, ... Dakota (Bird Watcher's Digest Backyard Guide)                        National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 7th Edition

Midwestern Birds                    National Geographic Birds

Trekking the  Plant Community Interpretive Trial

This open woodland is a savanna, hosting plant both native and non native to the area.  Some of the plants include bottlebrush grass, joe pye weed, and mayapple.   The green plants here produce their own food by trapping the energy of the sun.  They then support a wide array of organisms throughout the savanna. Here there is a very healthy ecosystem and therefore a vast biodiversity.

Geology of Glacial Park

12,000 years ago glaciers were in this park.  After leaving they left the land shaped into unique land forms and bringing rocks and till from Canada.   Because of so much till, the bedrock was buried and after breaking down, plants were able to grow in this new fertile soil.  This area then became of the top regions for agriculture.

Here are a few other great resources.

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66 Hikes Along Rt 66

The once gist oric 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.

Hike the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

With over over 34 miles of trails on a prairie of over 18,225 acres, the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie about is an ideal spot for a day hike.

And the Tallgrasses are no all to see.  In 2016, The National Forest Foundation and USDA Forest Service installed a web cam for visitors to check-in on the bison herd throughout the day. Midewin Public Services tracks to see when the bison are visible in the web cam & will post on Twitter and Facebook. 

 

While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the seedbeds, another on-going project at Midewin to restore the prairie with native Illinois plants.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/midewin/home

Hike and Go Seek – Garden of the Gods at Shawnee National Forest – Illinois

 

There are many miles of diverse hiking and backpacking trails in the Shawnee National Forest including the 160-mile River to River Trail.

One of the most photographed locations in the state, Garden of the Gods’ scenic beauty is extraordinary. In the recreation area you can hike, camp, nature watch or picnic.

The Observation Trail features unique sandstone rock formations and panoramic views of the surrounding Garden of the God Wilderness. Interpretive signs explain the geological history. The 1/4-mile trail is made of natural sandstone and takes about an hour to walk. It contains short, steep grades and steps; benches are located along the trail and as a whole the trail is not tiring. Caution should be used due to the high cliffs in the area.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/shawnee/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=10685&actid=50

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park — Natureholic1

My favorite lighthouse. Only 74 miles away from Philadelphia, Barnegat Lighthouse State Park is one of the best places in the East Coast to watch sea ducks during winter. I had been there in last 3 Januaries and it couldn’t be more exciting. The jetty could be little slippery and dangerous when wet. In 2020, […]

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via Barnegat Lighthouse State Park — Natureholic1

Hike and Go Seek – Petrified Forest

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.

168268265X      

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