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Hiking Northeast Region  

Click here for map of sitesNORTHEAST REGION 2 MAP | KEY

Chain O'Lakes The 2.5-mile-long Nature's Way Trail at Chain O'Lakes near the Illinois-Wisconsin border beckons hiking enthusiasts throughout the area. The 6-mile hiking/biking trail with limestone screenings is moderately difficult. An equestrian trail totaling 7.3 miles also ranks high on their lists because of many bluebird houses seen along the way. Disabled nature lovers enjoy the half-mile loop at Pike Marsh North, which, with its crushed limestone surface and viewing platform, offers access to the parkís abundance of timberlands and wildlife, including chipmunks, gophers, mink and deer. Deer flies can be bad in late July, and some grades can be steep, but basically Chain OíLakes is an excellent place to unwind mentally and physically.

Goose Lake Prairie Goose Lake Prairie's 6 miles of hiking trails will leave no doubt in your mind as to why Illinois is dubbed The Prairie State.î Prairie View Trail, with 3.5 miles of moderate hiking, goes through prairie and prairie restoration and, as its name suggests, to the area's highest point. Tall Grass Self-Guided Nature Trail can be an easy 1 mile or 3.5 miles, depending on the route you take, with one loop of the trail offering a hard-packed, wheelchair-accessible surface. Try to catch a glimpse of the rare Henslowís sparrow and, in the fall, you won't be able to miss the wild ducks and geese. Wildflowers bloom continuously from late April to early September, but some think autumn is the best time to hike the trails as prairie grasses more than 8-feet tall turn bronze and ripple with the wind.

Illinois Beach Family hikers and others with a yen for learning more about the Illinois dunes and migratory birds find Illinois Beach a premier hiking experience. Join the park interpreter for a guided nature hike Saturday and Sunday year-round or pick up a trail guide and go it alone. The southern part of the park features three trails leading through the dunes and out to Lake Michigan with a graveled, compacted surface. The north end of the park boasts a 1.8-mile loop that hikers and cross-country skiers alike use. The going is flat and easy and scenic wherever you wander.

Illinois & Michigan Canal The I & M Canal, once a towpath connecting Lake Michigan to the Illinois River, has been reincarnated into a 60-plus-mile hiking, biking and snowmobile trail stretching from Brandon Road in Rockdale all the way to LaSalle-Peru. The smooth, easy-walking trail gives you a chance to view a wealth of wildlife, including egrets and great blue herons. Among the trail's resting points are Channahon Park access, Gebhard Woods, William G. Stratton and Buffalo Rock state parks. Buffalo Rock also offers an easy 2-mile-long trail to the Effigy Tumuli, a former mining site that combines land reclamation with artistic land sculpting. Steep bluffs there require you to stay on surfaced trails.

Kankakee River Kankakee River State Park offers an easy, 3-mile-long trail featuring canyons and a waterfall and other interesting sights along Rock Creek. Visitors to the Kankakee River State Park have over 30 miles of trails to choose from including: North side of the Kankakee River: 7-mile handicap accessible asphalt trail which runs along the Kankakee River and over a 50-foot suspension bridge over Rock Creek Canyon; Rock Creek Canyon Trail is a leisurely 1.5-mile trail along the canyon which allows for viewing of the beautiful limestone bluffs; Area ìAî at the west end of the park contains 4.5 miles of trails which loop through mature forest and sand prairie and border a nature preserve; Self-guided 1.5-mile nature trail with 20 interpretive stations, including Potawatomi Chief Shawanassee's burial site, Rock Creek Canyon and a pond. South side of the Kankakee River: 12 miles of moderate hiking trails. Visitors should take advantage of the guided hikes offered at the park, including spring wildflower, summer nature and fall color hikes. Call for a schedule of these programs.

Moraine Hills In addition to the 0.7-mile Pike Marsh Trail through a dedicated nature preserve, the park also features Leatherleaf Bog Trail at 3.5 miles, Fox River Trail at 2 miles and Lake Defiance Trail at 3.75 miles. A half-mile nature trail will take you along the edge of Lake Defiance, one of the last glacial lakes left in Illinois. A rich variety of animal life lives within the parkís borders, including deer, mink, migrating sandhill cranes, Canada geese, ducks and occasionally, great blue herons. It's important to stay on the trailsógetting stuck in the peat calls to mind scenes from British horror films.

Volo Bog If you think a bog is a bog is a bog, you haven't made seasonal visits to Volo Bog in the northeast corner of the state. Hike the 2.75 miles of the easygoing Tamarack View Trail in spring, and the fern fiddle-heads will catch your eye. Summer is an excellent time to observe turtles, frogs and muskrat, and even though you probably won't see them during the day, you should know mink also inhabit the area. The gold of the tamarack needles highlight your autumn hiking, while winter walks present the bog's floating vegetative mat in an entirely different light. An informative pamphlet directs you along Volo Bog's half-mile-long interpretive trail, while guided hikes are given every Saturday and Sunday at 11a.m. and 1p.m. Since poison sumac is prevalent, you're advised to stay on the trails. And insect repellent is a necessity during summer months because, after all, a wetland is a fen is a marsh is a bog.

Another Northeast Trail Hikers make a point of walking the four easy to moderate trails at Silver Springs State Park in springtime to catch nature's display of wildflowers and return in autumn for the tapestry of color the wooded lakesides provide.

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