Illinois Hikes

Cache River State Natural Area: Big Cypress Tree Trail

Throughout the area you will discover ancient cypress trees with their flared bases and many "knees", which were mere saplings over 1,000 years ago, now standing sentinel over the rich, black-water swamps that still nourish them. On the short, 250 foot Big Cypress Tree Trail you will find one very special bald cypress. This particular cypress tree has been so nourished by the rich waters that it has developed a remarkable base (also referred to as a buttress) of over 40 feet in circumference and towers over 73 feet tall, which has earned it recognition as a state champion.... (click for more)

Cache River State Natural Area: Section 8 Boardwalk

There is something nearly hypnotic about the chorus song of nature, in particular the melodies of the amphibious inhabitants of the wetlands. The soprano trills of the tree frogs blend with the rich baritones of the southern leopard frogs, while the deep bass of the bullfrogs seem to keep the beat and complete the scale, providing the perfect background accompaniment as you stroll the wooden Section 8 Boardwalk... (click for more)

Cache River State Natural Area: Todd Fink-Heron Pond Trail

This short, 1.5 mile to Heron Pond, trail begins simply enough. You'll find yourself descending into a mix of hardwood forest comprised of a mix of oak, hickory and sweet gum. As you reach the bottom of your descent you will come to a small truss bridge over which you will make your way over a convergence of Dutchman's Creek and the Cache River. If you find yourself crossing this bridge without setting an eye just upstream, toward the actual meeting of these two streams of water, you are missing a truly magnificent sight... (click for more)

Garden of the Gods

The exquisite sandstone formations located at Garden of the Gods Recreation Area, located in Illinois, took nearly 320 million years to form and, in myopinion, every single second has been very, very well spent. The areaboasts truly awe inspiring vistas that beg to be fully taken in, smallwell worn trails that beckon you to lay tread to, and unique formationsthat are instantly recognizable, such as; Camel, Mushroom, and AnvilRock formations. This true Illinois treasure is one of the most aweinspiring locations I have laid eyes upon, and was reminiscent of views I experienced in South Dakota and Colorado, only far, far closer to home!... (click for more)

Giant City State Park: Devil's Standtable Trail

After taking in the history and spectacular view from the StonefortNature Trail we piled back in the old family truckster and set oursights on the Devil's Standtable Nature Trail, which was to provide abit more of a strenuous hike and a fantastic opportunity to get in a bit of boulder hopping and rock climbing fun for me. This was another short trail, winding another one-third of a mile into the beautiful forest,and the cherry on top, the Devil's Standtable itself, was well worth the short trek. However, if you find yourself wanting to take a seat atthis table you may want to bring along a mighty large chair...(click for more)

Giant City State Park: Giant City Nature Trail

There are times in which Mother Nature takes the subtle approach. Shegently nudges you, providing you a wondrous moment or a special littleinsight to what makes her tick. And then there are times that she getsright in your face, causing you to be unable to look away, and assuringthat you notice her grandeur, her beauty, her utter uniqueness... As you set tread to the Giant City Nature Trail be prepared, Mother Nature ismoving in close, she'll be sure that after this short one mile looptrail you'll be fully aware of her rare and unique beauty. ...(click for more)

Giant City State Park: Stonefort Nature Trail

We began our whole excursion in GiantCity State Park pondering exactly what a "Stonefort" was, and since weall had a different idea of what it may actually be we decided to makethe Stonefort Nature Trail our first official stop. Little did we know, but we actuallycaught a glimpse of the Stonefort Nature Trail's breathtakingobservation point from atop an 80 foot sandstone bluff as we entered the main park...(click for more)

Little Grand Canyon

Little Grand Canyon, tucked away in the Shawnee National Forest, was one of my very favorite hiking spots back in college. I discovered it on afield trip in my botany class back in 1998, I was impressed with thelush green beauty of the area, the "ruggedness" of the 3.6 mile hike and the relative feeling of remoteness as our instructor led classtraversed the sandstone walled canyon trail in search of endangeredlocal plant species. Would I feel the same sense of remoteness, would Iencounter the same beauty, would the trail seem as "rugged" in a 2011revisit with my family?... (click for more)

Panther Den Wilderness

Panther Den Wilderness may be the smallest wilderness area in the state of Illinois, but itpacks in some of the most distinctive and maze-like rock formations youmay ever see! This distinctive and unique area boasts over 820 acres ofland and is bordered by Crab Orchard Wilderness, which offers an additional 4050 acres of Illinois wilderness to itsnorth. Before you read on, you may want to brush up on exactly what a Wilderness Areas is and print yourself off a map of the area... (click for more)