66 Hikes Along Route 66

Route 66 State Park, Missouri

In the woods

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.

Travel through history on the mother road at Route 66 State Park.  Route 66 captured Americans’ imagination and exposed millions of citizens to small towns across the county.  Sample a slice of that at the visitor center, which has displays showcasing the road and is the former Bridgehead Inn, a 1935 roadhouse that sat on the original Route 66.  The park has more than 40 types of birds and encompasses 419 acres abounding with field of wild grass and brush.  Trails are sprinkled throughout the park. It sits on the Meramec River at the site of the former town of Times Beach, Missouri.  The Meramec River is one of the longest free-flowing waterways in the U.S. state of Missouri.

 https://mostateparks.com/park/route-66-state-park

Flower Field

Meramec River

Meramec-river.jpg

 

And here are a few other great resources.

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

Route 66 State Park – Missouri

In the woods

 

 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

Travel through history on the mother road at Route 66 State Park.  Route 66 captured Americans’ imagination and exposed millions of citizens to small towns across the county.  Sample a slice of that at the visitor center, which has displays showcasing the road and is the former Bridgehead Inn, a 1935 roadhouse that sat on the original Route 66.  The park has more than 40 types of birds and encompasses 419 acres abounding with field of wild grass and brush.  Trails are sprinkled throughout the park. It sits on the Meramec River at the site of the former town of Times Beach, Missouri.  The Meramec River is one of the longest free-flowing waterways in the U.S. state of Missouri.

 https://mostateparks.com/park/route-66-state-park

Flower Field

Meramec River

Meramec-river.jpg

 

And here are a few other great resources.

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

66 Hikes Along Route 66

McLean County’s Historic Route 66 Trail

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.
U.S. Highway 66, popularly known as Route 66 or the Mother Road, holds a special place in American Consciousness and evokes images of simpler times, mom and pop businesses, and the icons of a mobile nation on the road. Historic Route 66 Trail is a designated section of the larger Constitution Trail.
Constitution-Trail-007-02.jpg   

Constitution Trail

The Constitution Trail is a multi-use rail trail located in Illinois. It occupies an abandoned Illinois Central Gulf Railroad corridor that runs through the ‘Twin Cities’ of Bloomington and Normal in McLean County, Illinois.

The trail, which is owned by the municipalities of Bloomington and Normal, is approximately 24 mi of former railways. It features the Camelback Bridge in Normal, a site on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Its official opening was May 6, 1989. In 2000, the trail was officially named a “Millennium Trail” by the White House Millennium Council.

And here are a few other great resources.

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

66 Hikes Along Route 66

Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri

 

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.

 

The Mark Twain National Forest,  Missouri’s only national forest, encompasses roughly 1.5 million acres, mostly within the Ozark Highlands. Located across southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, the Ozark Highlands are an ancient landscape characterized by large permanent springs, over 5,000 caves, rocky barren glades, old volcanic mountains and nationally recognized streams. Portions of the Ozarks were never under oceans, nor were the areas glaciated.is a U.S. National Forest located in the southern half of Missouri.   It was established on September 11, 1939. It is named for author Mark Twain, a Missouri native. The park covers 3,068,800 acres with abundant Wilderness and Wildlife and a National Scenic River area. This huge park spans 29 counties and represents 11% of all forested land in Missouri.

Some unique features of the Mark Twain include Greer Spring, which is the largest spring on National Forest land and part of the Eleven Point National Scenic River, and pumps an average of 214 million gallons of water per day into the river.  The public can also visit the Glade Top Trail National Scenic Byway, which offers views of over 30 miles to the Boston Mountains in Arkansas. The 350-mile Ozark Trail system winds through much of the National Forest.

Wilderness Areas   The park has 9 Wilderness areas to explore

Bell Mountain.jpg

 

And here are a few other great hiking resources.

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66 Hikes Along Route 66 – Starved Rock

 

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.

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.

Starved Rock State Park

 

And here are a few other great resources.

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

66 Hikes Along Route 66

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.

Hike the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Prairie Creek Woods

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. 

big bison in a field

 

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

66 Hikes Along Route 66

Gebhard Woods State Park in Morris, Illinois 

Don’t let the snow and cold slow you down. Hiking at Gebhard Woods State Park is a popular activity  on this 30-acre site. Located in Morris, this picturesque park is bordered on the south by the Illinois & Michigan Canal and to the north by Nettle Creek, which gently flows along the perimeter and through the park, adding to its natural beauty and abundance of wildlife. Stately old trees including walnut, oak, ash, maple, sycamore, hawthorn and cottonwood provide ample shade throughout the park. In the spring, trillium, bluebell, white trout lily, violets, wild ginger, phlox, toothwort and spring beauties are just a sample of the wildflowers that can be enjoyed by park visitors.​​​​
And Gebhard Woods is a footbridge away from the historic Illinois & Michigan Canal State Trail. This 61 mile trail on the old canal towpath is easy walking and gives access to unparalleled scenic and historic sights.  The trail is marked and has various wayside exhibits that describe canal era features encountered along the way.
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

66 Hikes Along Route 66 – #9

Meramec State Park – Stanton MO

Created in 1926 it protects over 40 caves and a forested landscape.   Fisher Cave sports massive columns and bear claw marks from the past.

Exhibits in the visitor center interpret the natural and cultural features of the park. No visit to the park would be complete without a tour of Fisher Cave with hand-held lights.

Meramec River

The Meramec River flows by majestic bluffs, wooded areas and a dramatic cave entrance.

 

More than 13 miles of hiking trails are available for exploring 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