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Topic: Trapped in midwest, desperately need out.< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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QuietCommune Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 24 2012, 4:07 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've been brought up as a hiker/camper/backpacker ever since I was a little kid. Unfortunately, I've also lived in the greater Chicago area my entire life. There are no good locales withing 3 hours (that I know of) to hike/backpack at. Sure, there's Starved Rock State Park, but after going there the 10th time, it gets old. I've backpacked in Manistee Natl Forest in Michigan and loved it, but that's 5-6 hours away. Are there any great day hikes near chicago (2 hours max)? I've searched all over.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 24 2012, 5:01 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The Southern unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest in southeastern Wisconsin is within your time restriction.  If you want to Mapquest it, put in Whitewater, WI or Ottawa, WI to give you a sense of it.  The Ice Age Trail runs about 30 miles through it.  You are, however, restricted to staying at (car) campgrounds or at shelters along the trail, which require a reservation and a bit of a fee.  There are also daily fees (or you can buy an annual sticker) if you're leaving your car somewhere within the state forest such as a lot or campground area.  I don't really know of any other backpacking opportunities easily within 2 hours of Chicago in Wisconsin, though there are other places for shorter hikes.

Similar story if you wanted to look at the northern unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, but getting there in under 2 hours would probably be tough.  But the way you FIBs drive getting there it might be doable if you don't get pulled over.

Good luck, feel free to ask if you have more questions.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 24 2012, 8:26 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

For day hikes, maybe the 11 mile loop in the Forest Glen Preserve near Danville or in Indiana try Turkey Run State Park or Shades State Park (def include Pine Hills Nature Preserve!) for some good hiking trails. All are a bit south of I-74. I have videos of the first and last to give you a sense of them - see my profile.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 24 2012, 8:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 25 2012, 6:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

QuietCommune,

Yep, been there, done that in a past life.

Dayhike. Drive (or take trolley) to the Indiana Dunes. Park at the Dune Acres station, hop the trolley into Michigan City.

Walk the shore back (maybe 10 miles?). First national lakeshore (minor ford of a creek there), then Lake Front Dr. in Beverly Shores (yes a road, but pleasant with good views).

Then either the state park or swing inland to the national lakeshore trails.

Mind, my information is 25 years old but I suspect the components are still there.

Other neat trick but more of a week long trip (with some cash) is to take Amtrak's L.A. train to Flagstaff, shuttle up to the Grand Canyon. Put on your pack and go. Very viable, reasonable costs, as a single traveler. I'd suggest sticking to Nov. thru early March. I'm opinionated, having done some 34 winter backpacks there.

One other wild card.

Or a long weekend (with some cash). Fly into Vegas, grab a rental car. Death Valley, Zion, many other prime venues are nearby, broad choice of altitude, viable year round. Central Nevada is glorious, a poor man's Alaska.

I did a dozen of these trips, Vegas as port of entry. There is a strong argument to be made that Vegas is the "best wilderness city in the country." The nearby choices are that good.

Hope that helps.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 26 2012, 6:40 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

There are lots of day hikes and bike trips just outside of Chicago.  The Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, etc.) is part of the national program rails to trails for hiking and biking.  There is the Salt Creek Trail, I & M Trail, a hike/bike trail along Lake Michigan in Wisconsin, hiking the Indiana Dunes national and state parks.  

Go west of Kettle Moraine and south of Mineral Point for hiking or biking.  A lot of people visit Starved Rock, but never visit Buffalo Rock; which I think is just as beautiful and has a river bluff trail.  Then just over the border in Michigan by the Dunes and head north.  

Let's not forget Galena, and Jo Davies County for hill hiking.  It's not as far as Manistee.  You know your in great shape when you walk or run the stairs at Galena.  Sagawau Canyon and trail is in Lemont.

Have fun and enjoy yourself.  There are pictures of Buffalo Rock and some of other trails I mentioned on my blog Canoe Communications Blog Nature :)  :) http://canoecommunications.wordpress.com/category/nature/page/3
I have included some trail maps.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 27 2012, 2:32 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(QuietCommune @ Jul. 24 2012, 3:07 pm)
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I've been brought up as a hiker/camper/backpacker ever since I was a little kid. Unfortunately, I've also lived in the greater Chicago area my entire life. There are no good locales withing 3 hours (that I know of) to hike/backpack at. Sure, there's Starved Rock State Park, but after going there the 10th time, it gets old. I've backpacked in Manistee Natl Forest in Michigan and loved it, but that's 5-6 hours away. Are there any great day hikes near chicago (2 hours max)? I've searched all over.

Starved Rock is worth an 11th trip if you've never gone in the winter when frozen waterfalls spill over the canyon rims. Some years are better than others; ice formation depends on adequate snow and some thawing/freezing. St Louis Canyon is perhaps the most spectacular, but the canyons at the other end of the park also sport some pretty good columns of ice. Nearby Mathiesson State Park is also well worth a visit.

As for great dayhikes within 2 hours of Chicago, that depends on your definition of "great." I've been hiking in the Cook County forest preserves southwest of Chicago (15-20 minutes from my home in Downers Grove) for decades. Waterfall Glen, Swallow Cliff, and the Cap Sauer Holdings have some very nice hilly terrain, and the Red Gate Woods has good hiking as well as significant historical interest. The world's first nuclear reactor (from the fisrt sustained nuclear reaction at Stagg Field) is buried out there, marked by a big rock with an inscription telling the story. I first stumbled upon it in 1970 when my friend and I went hiking instead of fishing at nearby Saganashkee Slough.

Just off Lemont Rd alongside Bluff Rd runs a creek next to the Hindu Temple that sports an attractive little rock-lined canyon before the creek spills over an 8-ft waterfall. Not far from there between the RR tracks and the canal are some decent-sized rocky bluffs. There's a lot of good hiking back in there ... as long as your expectations do not exceed what is possible with the surface geology of Chicagoland.


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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 24 2012, 10:37 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Tough order if the limit is 2 hours.

Consider Morton Arboretum of all places. It is very scenic and hilly with 10+ miles of trail. Just no wilderness.

Apple River Canyon SP is scenic, but a smaller package.

Kettle Moraine State Forest is probably the closest thing to wilderness.


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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 25 2012, 8:58 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Check out all the county forest Preserves as they have a lot of trails to hike on. There is also Rock Cut SP over in Rockford, which has some nice trails. There is also Franklin Creek SP over by Dixon, IL along with Castle Rock and White Pines SPs. You can link several of the trails at these parks to get some length in.
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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 28 2012, 8:56 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Another vote for Kettle Moraine South - you won't find hills like this anywhere else nearby.  (Stairs at Palos don't count!)

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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 28 2012, 9:20 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Check out this site for trails up in the Chicago area. These are trails at the forest preserves and other areas.

http://saukthorncreektrails.com/
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 10 2012, 11:54 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Try Richard Bong Recreation Area in Wisconsin,  they have some good day hikes and a campground.

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 10 2012, 1:04 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Some other day trip spots beyond the Sag, Swallow Cliffs and the spots mentioned above are:    

Matthiessen State Park, like Buffalo Rock, doesn't get all the media like Starved Rock and it's closer than Starved Rock.  Matthiessen is where you can launch on to the Vermillion River, so pack fishing gear if you fish.  Eight miles of trails,  with waterfall and canyon and the river at this one.

If you like hiking dunes by a lake Illinois Beach State Park, Indiana Dunes Park, Woodland Dunes by Two River in Wisconsin and a little further is Whitefish Dunes, and in PJ Hoffmaster in Michigan and you camp.

Morrison-Rockwood State Park 2.5 hours from Chicago with 14 miles of bridle trail that hikers can use and in the winter there is 12 miles for cross-country skiing.

Goose Lake Prairie State Park is a flat, land easy hike and an hour or less from Chicago.  Moraine Hills State Park with trails running along wetlands for photo opportunities to snap wildlife and birds.  

The I & M Canal Trail that you can pick up in Lockport, map in post: http://canoecommunications.wordpress.com/2012....llinois      They are very scenic in fall when the leaves change colors.  Happy trails.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2012, 11:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Turkey Run is very nice; Palos and Waterfall Glen forest preserves are nice for day hiking and xc-skiing in the river; Mathiessen and Starved Rock are very nice; Apple River Canyon is another good suggestion; Veteran Acres in Crystal Lake is a pleasant suprise...

Happy Trails,

RS


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 22 2012, 11:37 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Oh I feel your pain!  Stuck, probably permanantly due to job and kids, in northeast IN.  Sounds like you have some great suggestions so far.  I do want to add that Shades State Park in Indiana does have a backpack option.  It's only a 2.5 mile hike to the campsites but it's great short weekend trip or beginner's trip.  I took someone on her first backpack there just a couple of weeks ago.  Hiked in, set up, then spent the rest of our time hiking all the trails in the park and the adjacent nature preserve.  We were all alone in the backpack area and only saw 2 other people the whole weekend, one being a park ranger.  Turkey Run is also nice but tends to be MUCH more crowded.  Probably too late this year, at some point in October Shades becomes day use only but something to keep in mind for the future...

Also want to second the Amtrak to Grand Canyon idea.  Amtrak is a slow way to travel but it's fun and relaxing.  We took it to Texas several years back and it beat the heck out of driving.  Grand Canyon is awesome for hiking!
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