Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Illinois Beach State Park

On September 17, 2013, I had to conduct some business in downtown Waukegan.  As the weather was nice, I decided to take advantage of the drive up and do a short hike at Illinois Beach State Park.
I arrived at the south parking area at 3 p.m. and realized that I was overdressed.  The weather had improved since I left home so I took off my camp shirt and the bottoms of my pants and hiked in a tee-shirt and shorts.  There was a nice breeze and it was great to be out again after it took so long to heal up from minor surgery.

The park is divided into a northern and southern section.  I did not even drive to the northern section much less hike any of its trails.  But the northern part of the park was a Civil War prisoner of war camp called Camp Logan.  The U.S. military used the area right through the 1940s.  The northern section did not become state park land until the 1970s.

The south section is the oldest part of the park.  It became a state park in 1953.  The area was platted to be a town, but that never happened.  It was used by movie studios as on scene location for several westerns  in the early part of the 20th century. I only had a few hours so I hiked two loops at the far south end of the park. 

The park contains the last bit of beach ridge terrain left within Illinois.  The Dead River flows through the south section of the park.  The river does not always flow into the lake.  Most of the time the Dead River mouth is blocked by a sand bar.  Only when the water levels rise high, e.g big rain storms, does the river actually flow into the lake.  A great resource about the history of the park and the geology of the area can be found at

In the attached map I hiked 1) the outbound section of the Dead River Trail, then I went to the mouth of the Dead River, then I hiked 2) the inbound portion of the Dunes Trail back to the Beach Trail.  I took the Beach Trail back to the parking area.  Then I hiked 3) the outbound portion of the Dunes Trail and finally, 4) the inbound portion of the Dead River Trail.  All combined it was just about 4 miles.
Fall is just beginning to turn here so I saw the fall flowers, goldenrod, gayfeather, and the exploded milkweed seedpod.  I saw many songbirds as well.

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