REGION 1 MAP
River Canyon When was the last time it took you an hour
to hike a mile? Untouched by glaciers that leveled off other parts
of the state, Apple River Canyon in the hilly northwest gives experienced
hikers a run for their money. Pine Ridge Trail is the easiest, but
even it is classified as moderately difficult. Four others, including
the self-guiding Primrose Lane - not to be confused with the primrose
path - are strenuous. Stay on the marked trails because grades are
extremely steep. Your diligence will result in your viewing pine
groves and other timbered areas teeming with wildflowers, ferns
and birds of all kinds, plus deer, rabbits and raccoons.
Lake Smokey Bear is a bear of a trail at Argyle Lake State
Park, but then so are 10 of the park's other 12 hiking trails. Don't
let their serene names, like Little Fawn or Lonesome Oak, fool you
into thinking they're simple. Only Blackberry and Pitch Pine trails
can be classed as moderate. Steep grades account for difficult to
very difficult rankings for most of Argyle's 5 miles of trails.
Beaver dams highlight Shore Trail that winds along the lake, and
wood duck houses are always a kick to check out. Admittedly, the
poison ivy is bad here, but its berries help attract the more than
200 bird species that call Argyle Lake home.
River State Forest and Delabar
State Park Lincoln's Trail at Big River State Forest is
a 1.5-mile trail with a bit of history - Abraham Lincoln traversed
here in 1832 when he led 2,000 militiamen to fight in the Black
Hawk War. Two other moderate trails, Wilderness at a half-mile and
Big Pine at 1.4, bring trail totals to right at 3.5 miles. Patterson
bindweed, first found here in 1873, and wild turkeys are just as
much a part of the natural scene as Big River's timber stands. Nearby,
Delabar State Park's forested areas serve as a natural habitat for
still more wild turkeys plus other birds. The Mills Slough Trail,
with its old black oak trees and assorted wildflowers, is an easy
hike the whole family can enjoy.
Rock Hikers with intermediate skills find Castle Rock a
dream come true. Six trails, ranging in length from a quarter-mile
to 2 miles, take hikers through mature forest, native prairies and
prairie restoration areas. The rock outcropping you'll see along
some of the trails is St. Peter sandstone, which lies under most
of the state but comes to the surface in only a few places. Pick
up a brochure at the park office for Castle Rock's self-guiding
nature trail, then load your camera to photograph not only scenic
views, but also the birds and woodland animals you'll see along
the way. As you should after any hike, check yourself for ticks.
In the winter, return to the same trails with your cross-country
Creek The 0.3-mile concrete-surfaced Mill Springs Trail
for the disabled is only one reason people come back to Franklin
Creek Natural Area again and again. Others include Pioneer Pass
at 1.85 miles and Norwegian Hill, Black Bass and Quarry trails,
each about a mile long and all moderate in difficulty. In the springtime
you'll be treated to an abundance of wildflowers and songbirds.
Check out Franklin Creek's many natural springs, including Mill
Springs, among the largest in northern Illinois. Geology buffs will
recognize New Richmond sandstone, the oldest exposed bedrock found
in Illinois, dating back 500 million years.
Canal Parkway If you've eaten a little too much at Sunday
dinner, just stand up and stretch, pat your tummy, and head for
the Hennepin Canal Parkway. With its 155 miles, you'll have those
extra calories walked off in no time. Shorter lengths, of course,
may be attempted, and the going is level and easy. That's because
the trail is an old towpath originally intended for but never used
by animals for towing boats along the canal's mainline and feeder
routes. During the first half of the century, the Hennepin Canal
linked the Illinois and Mississippi rivers for commercial shipping,
and today you can still see lock and dam sites, aqueducts and some
of the original houses used by the canal's maintenance workers.
A wildlife observation blind is featured along a 4-mile trail at
Sheffield. From the natural to the manmade, Hennepin Canal Parkway
State Park offers a little of everything.
Autumn colors of red and gold are all the more spectacular when
contrasted with the green of pines, and Illini State Park is the
perfect place to enjoy the season's kaleidoscope. The park's 3 miles
of moderate hiking trails also have the advantage of being a haven
for doves, cardinals and goldfinches. Try the 2-mile White Tail
Run, which doubles as a cross-country ski trail in the winter. For
shorter jaunts, there are the Chassogoac and the Marsottawa trails,
each a half-mile. After your hike, pay a visit to the nearby LaSalle
Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area and work on your own definition
Trail Fields of sunflowers swaying with the wind, venerable
pines rimming the lake and a variety of hardwood trees waiting till
the second or third week of October to show their true colors are
among the natural beauties hikers encounter at Johson-Sauk Trail
State Park. The park's 3.75 miles of hiking trails, all easy to
moderate in difficulty, carry the Native American names of Sauk,
Ottawa, Potawatomi, Kaskaskia, Fox, Ojibwa, Winnebago and Piankashaw.
Hawks, owls, pheasant and quail, as well as migratory birds and
waterfowl, roost here. If you want to stay out of the way of sportsmen
during hunting season, stop by the park office for information on
which trails are not located in hunting areas. But know that whenever
you visit, Johnson-Sauk Trail gives you an opportunity for some
great nature watching.
Le-Aqua-Na Lake Le-Aqua-Na has 7 miles of easy to moderate
hiking trails. Go for it, and you won't be disappointed. Within
the park are streams, springs, limestone bluffs and very mature
pine plantations, plus a wide variety of birds and even an occasional
badger. Gorgeous spring wildflowers and seasonal berries keep your
eyes occupied for hours. The trails also are marked for equestrian
and cross-country ski use, but don't worry there's enough pure nature
to go around.
State Fish & Wildlife Area A 200-foot oak-and-hickory bluff
overlooking the scenic backwater lakes of the Illinois River is
the setting for your day of hiking at Marshall State Fish & Wildlife
Area. More than 3 miles of trails give you an excellent chance for
observing migrating songbirds in season and bald eagles in winter,
while the area is always home to white-tailed deer, foxes, opossum
and raccoons. Hiking trails are closed during firearm deer season,
and hikers are asked to wear blaze orange clothing during squirrel
hunting season in September, October and November. If there's more
than 2 inches of snowcover in the winter, you might want to bring
along your cross-country skis to use along Marshallís three interconnecting,
multi-use trails. Mushroom hunting in spring and a superb wildflower
array in April and early May are just two more traits that help
turn each visit into a quintessential hiking experience.
It's difficult to say who, exactly, enjoys hiking at Matthiessen
State Park the most. Is it birders? More than 200 species of birds
have been observed there. How about botanical revelers? In excess
of 100 types of woodland flowers pop up every spring and summer.
Or do those with an interest in geology outnumber them all? That
illusive sedimentary rock, St. Peter sandstone, makes an appearance
in the form of bluffs at Matthiesssen, which also boasts canyons,
steep cliffs, mineral springs and the beautiful Cascade Falls. The
park's 5 miles of well-marked, well-surfaced trails keep intermediate
and experienced hikers awestruck. Three pieces of advice, however:
unmarked areas are dangerous; rock climbing and rappelling are forbidden;
and keep out of the way of poison ivy.
Palisades Ten marked hiking trails, moderate to strenuous
in difficulty and totaling nearly 13 miles, make Mississippi Palisades
a hiker's paradise. Generally easier to hike than its southern counter-part,
the North Trail System includes trails ranging from 0.8 mile to
4 miles. But to really work up a sweat, head to the short but not
so sweet trails on the park's south side. One of theseóthe mile-long
Sunset Trailótakes you to an observation platform. Maybe you'll
catch a glimpse of a pileated woodpecker for your efforts, but even
if you don't, you'll enjoy the paper birch trees and ferns dotting
the deep ravines. Be careful of poison ivy, nettles and, of course,
the bluffs themselves.
Cut Approximately 15 miles of trails winding through 3,000
acres prevent hikers at Rock Cut State Park from getting bored.
The main trail circling Pierce Lake is 4.25 miles long, but all
trails interconnect, so you could hike for days and never see quite
the same terrain. Waterfowl are plentiful, as are wild turkeys and
deer. Be advised the park's trails run the gamut from easy to moderate
to difficult. Cross-country skiing is allowed on the park's multi-use
trails when snow is deep enough. There are 7 miles accessible to
Island Trail There aren't many trials that offer multiple
parking lots, toilets and drinking fountains along the way, but
then there aren't many like the Rock Island Trail. Stretching from
Alta, near Peoria, to Toulon in Stark County, the path is the state's
first rail-to-trail conversion, following a 27-mile portion of an
old railroad right-of-way. You can access the trail at either Alta
or Toulon as well as in Wyoming, in Princeville and in Dunlap. The
trail's crushed limestone surface is 8-feet wide and also is used
by cyclists and cross-country skiers. Where Peoria and Stark counties
meet, the trail divides a spectacular remnant of Illinois tallgrass
prairie at our nature preserve. A historic trestle spans over the
scenic Spoon River just west of Wyoming. A renovated railroad depot
in Wyoming serves as the Park Office/Interpretive Center for the
trail. You're reminded to stay on the trail and off private property
throughout your excursion.
Shabbona Lake State Park invites blind and visually impaired visitors
to hike an interpretive nature trail guided by its Touch the Earthî
cassette tape. Cassettes and tape players, available at the park
office, aim to make the one-eighth-mile trek both informative and
enjoyable. Visitors in wheelchairs appreciate the trail's hard surface.
Arrowhead Trail at 2.4 miles is equipped with benches for resting
every mile or so. Tomahawk, Papara and the 7-mile long snowmobile
trail offer the opportunity to experience the remarkable scenic
beauty of Shabbona Lake. Wildlife is abundant with the opportunity
to observe deer, turkey and occasionally even the elusive coyote
as you hike through the park's woodland and prairie areas. Stop
and view the waterfowl as you round the lake and listen for songbirds
along the way. Be sure to bring along your wildflower and bird guides.
Please contact the park office if hiking after October 1st for updates
on hiking restrictions due to hunting in the park.
Spring Lake State Fish & Wildlife Spring Lake is simply a good
place to enjoy the trees, the scenery and the wildlife and isn't
it convenient because that's exactly what most hikers are after?
Whispering Pines Trail on the north side of the lake features short
(0.5), medium (1.5), and long (2.5) loops through fragrant pine
timber. On the south, the short Deer Run and Stagecoach trails summon
the whole family to join in a leisurely stroll. Myriad prairie wildflowers
bloom every summer and, in keeping with their pastime, birdwatchers
flock to the area. Spring Lake's trails prove time and time again
that simple pleasures are the best.
Rock When your psyche demands to be refreshed by spectacular
vistas and the urge to stretch your legs becomes an obsession, pack
it up and head for the 15 miles of moderate to difficult trails
at Starved Rock State Park. Eighteen soaring canyons laced with
trickling to cascading waterfalls set the stage for your hiking
retreat. Guided hikes, lasting from one-and-a half to three hours,
weekends and holidays from April through October and on Saturdays
from November through March. An annual wildflower pilgrimage is
held the first weekend in May, while fall color guided tours are
scheduled the third weekend in October. Set aside the third weekend
in January for viewing the park's scenic frozen waterfalls and watching
eagles feed in the open water below the dam. Contact the Visitor
Center at 815-667-4906 for guided tour hours. Don't be afraid of
venturing out on your own, however, Starved Rock's elaborate yet
easy-to-understand trail marking system should prevent even folks
with a horrible sense of direction from getting lost. To prevent
serious accidents, stay on the marked trails and don't climb the
rock formations, which are primarily St. Peter sandstone. Kindly
refrain from complaining about the poison ivy many of the park's
200 species of birds rely on its white berries as a primary food
Pines Forest and Lowden Immerse yourself in the solitude
of White Pines Forest State Park. Whether you choose an easy walking
trail or a more difficult path, you'll no doubt come away revitalized.
Vine-covered limestone bluffs, blossoming spring flowers and whispering
pines combine to lend this area its special charm. White Pines offers
seven marked trails aimed at treating you to all its natural beauty.
Trails vary in length from .5 mile to 1.4 miles long with the complete
trail system totaling over 5 miles. The trail system has .4 miles
of limestone screenings to allow accessibility for disabled visitors.
While you're in the area, you might also want to take in the trails
at Lowden State Park, 12 miles to the east. Its 3.8 miles of moderate
hiking trails could give you an opportunity to see the grand pileated
woodpecker. Odds are extremely good, however, that you'll see a
Scout or twoóLowden is one end of the 20-mile Black Hawk Trail that
Scouts attempt in order to earn a hiking patch.
Trails Early October is when you're most apt to enjoy the fall
color at Jubilee College State
Park, which offers a 10-mile trail with several loops, but return
in the spring for a flourish of flowers. Near Donnelley and DePue State Fish & Wildlife Areas, Miller-Anderson Woods,
with its 1.5 miles of moderate to difficult trails along Illinois
River bluffs, also affords the hiker some spectacular autumn scenery.
Morrison-Rockwood State Park's
hiking trail through mostly wooded areas is moderately difficult
and 3.5 miles long, but can be shortened by taking one of the three
loops. Prophetstown State Park
has an easy, one-third-mile trail named after Wa-bo-kie-shiek, the
adviser and prophet to the great Sauk war chief, Black Hawk.
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