PREAMBLE: Please leave me a message with ideas, tips, thoughts, opinions. I sure would like some feedback. Thanks.
CHOOSE A TOPIC on the right side of the page. My most recent post wil appear at the bottom of this page. Because of the way that blogger works I have tried to set up the topic list in a way that will make it easy to find things. Canoe trips are designated “Canoe.”
Hikes in the Illinois State Parks are listed alphabetically.
X denotes a hike in an area other than an Illinois State Park.
z indicates a Gear Review.
INTRODUCTION - Hi! My name is Jim and I am a slightly overweight, definitely out of shape suburban Dad who likes getting out into the great piney woods. I've spent 30 years working in an office environment. Over that time I let myself forget how much I enjoy being out in the woods and breathing fresh air. Well, I have decided to go back to doing what I most enjoyed back in the late 70's and early 80's. This project gives me the excuse I've needed to take a little more time out of the office and put a little more time into the woods.
THE CONCEPT - Over the last few months of 2011, I was browsing the web looking at a lot of material posted up by guys like me who are getting out and having fun on the trail. I thought, “I can do that.” And so, I kept reading and watching and the weeks went by. I realized I had to give myself an excuse to get up and GO!
So I decided to set myself a goal. I wanted to engage in a project that would be long term, but not too ambitious. So, what could I do that would show some accomplishment early on and that could be a path to improvement? Well, my wife got a new DSLR camera in 2011 and she was learning how to use it. I suggested we take a little hike and she could snap a bunch of cool shots. So I looked at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website to get directions to a State Park. There are about 140 state parks listed on the IL DNR web site. Some of those are too small to hike in, but most of them have at least 3 miles of trails.
I had found my project. I call it Hiking Illinois, A Journey Through the State Parks of Illinois.
On January 27, 2012, I came up with the basic rules. Keeping it simple, I decided to hike a minimum of 3 miles in each of the Illinois State Parks. Of course, just walking 3 miles in a park isn’t all that appealing, but if I were to backpack I could buy, test, tweak, and play with a lot of gear. Now, I really like gear and this presented a real good excuse for me to buy more gear. So, rule number two, I will pack as if I am going to do a few days’ solo hike in each park. And that is the extent of the rules I set.
Louisa Falls, Quetico
In some parks I’ll just do day hikes and in others I’ll do overnighters. Along the way, I’ll pick up little tidbits of information about the parks and maybe look at the history of the surrounding area a bit. Now I realize that we don’t have the AT, CDT, or PCT to hike around here, but we do have some pretty interesting looking places on our state map. Illinois is a state with a whole lot of variety and a lot of history, so that aspect should enrich the project and leave me with a greater appreciation for my home stomping grounds.
Wabakimi Provincial Park
Please note that these will not be comprehensive surveys of all features and attractions at all the parks.I just want to give you a sample of what is out there and encourage you to explore for yourself.I will try to show some highlights at each park and give my impressions of the park by hiking at least some of the trails that each park contains.I hope my adventures will whet your appetite to come on out and explore what Illinois has to offer in the way of hiking, camping, and nature-centric recreation.
ADDENDUM - Well, once I got the blog up and running, I realized that I had other adventures that I wanted to recount. So I went back into my archives and I posted up about some earlier hikes and canoe trips that I have taken over the years. So I have expanded the scope of this blog to cover my outdoor life. Now I want to keep a record of all the fun I have had, and am having, enjoying all the various outdoor activities.
So off I go, Hiking Illinois.
Chattahoochee National Forest, Georgia
Matthiessen State Park
DISCLAIMER - I do not have any affiliation with any manufacturer or distributor of any products that I review. The reviews are my opinions based upon my experience with any particular piece of gear. I have not monetized this website so you may be assured I do not stand to gain personally by anything I post here.
DON’T BE STUPID! - I do not claim to be an expert in any area of outdoor living and I urge you to learn about the risks which are always inherent in any outdoor activity.Think about your own limitations before you go out. I have done some pretty stupid things out in the woods and nearly died because I did not think ahead of time.If you have little, or no, experience in the wilderness you should exercise extreme caution before adventuring out there. Read, study, learn and practice your camping and survival skills near your home BEFORE leaving the safety of modern society.
On November 9, 2013, coolkayaker1 and I hiked seven miles of the I & M Canal Trail. We met at The Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial in Marseilles, IL at 10:00 am. Then we shuttled with one vehicle to the park just west of the Fox River Aqueduct in Ottawa. We hiked from Ottawa back to Marseilles. The mile posts on the trail all have little tidbits of information so any hike on the trail is informative.
The weather was spectacular! We had to take off layers of clothes and the sun felt wonderful. I think we discovered another of the unlisted campsites along the I & M Canal Trail. Right at Long Creek on the west edge of Marseilles it seems IL DNR has set up a campsite and planted trees and grass.
ck1 has a GPS unit and it showed that while we were actually walking, we were going at better than 3MPH. Even with stopping and filming and exploring, we finished the hike at about 1:45 p.m.
After we finished our hike we drove back to Ottawa to get the other vehicle. We stopped for lunch at a place in Ottawa called the Corner 230. What a great surprise! The restaurant has a nice selection of beers and giant, fresh, tasty cheeseburgers. The staff was cheerful and the whole place had a good, easy feeling about it.
I had planned on doing an overnight at Illini State Park, but I decided to head home after driving around the park a bit and seeing all the Winnebago type campers already there.