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Topic: Looking For Suggestions: Illinois/Wisconsin< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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chicagoryan Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 02 2013, 1:40 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hello Everyone... good to finally register here!

I am new(er) to hiking/backpacking and have been doing 10-15 mile day hikes every week for the last 2 months.

I have been doing mostly intermediate forest trails (Kettle Moraine State Park/Starved Rock etc...) and feel like I am ready for more than a day hike.

I am looking for an 2-day hike in Wisconsin/Illinois that will have scenic views of bluffs/waterfalls/cliffs etc... I really enjoy the normal forest hike but am looking for recommendations on something more "grand".

I live about 20 miles west of Chicago and am willing to travel up to 200 miles.  Looking for a total of 20-30 miles of hiking over the two days.

Any suggestions on something like this with camping info would be so greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much in advance,
Ryan
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WisMike Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 02 2013, 7:36 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Well, in Wisconsin, you can find some scenery that might appeal to you in Gov. Dodge State Park, which I think might have enough trail miles to make a 2-day overnighter out of.  There is a nice (small) waterfall there, and topography typical of the driftless area.  I know other people have talked about the Yellow River SF in Iowa as well, which might actually be your best bet.

But if you want some "real" waterfalls, Wisconsin's most impressive waterfalls are mostly located in the far north.  Although northeastern Wisconsin probably has our greatest concentration of waterfalls, there aren't a lot of backpacking opportunities near falls in the northeast that I'm aware of, but maybe Eric could chime in if he knows of anything.  Anyway, that leaves you with far north central/northwestern Wisconsin, which is even further out of your range.  However, if you'd consider a longer drive, Copper Falls State Park has some of Wisconsin's best known waterfalls, and the park has a remote backpack site, though it requires a reservation.  One of our sections of the North Country Trail has a nice waterfall called Wren Falls and a nice overlook or two.  As for cliffs and scenery, your best bet is again probably far northwestern Wisconsin, particularly in the Chequamegon NF and the Penokee Mountains area west of Mellen, WI.

If you don't want to go that far, you are probably not going to find anything too dramatic as you describe in Wisconsin, but the north woods of Wisconsin still has a lot to offer. The Chequamegon unit that hosts some of the Ice Age Trail near Rib Lake, WI has some good opportunities and there are some other nice wooded, hilly areas to the east of there as well.  But that still is about 300-350 miles away.

You could look at some of our state parks in the southwest part of Wisconsin and in IL/IA and see if you could do some long hiking days and camp at the campgrounds, but you likely won't be able to camp along the trail and will probably be limited to car campgrounds.

Feel free to post back if you have more questions.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 03 2013, 12:59 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Based on your desired parameters, you're best off doing the Manistee River Loop in Michigan (LP, not the UP) or the Yellow River State Forest in northeastern Iowa, because frankly, there isn't anything in WI or IL that meets your conditions.  Lots of great forest day hiking, and there is backpacking on the Ice Age Trail in the Kettle Moraine State Forest, which is scenic in its own way, but as you said, it's not "grand".  

As Mike said, the waterfalls cluster near the Lake Superior shoreline in Wisconsin and Minnesota.  If you don't mind driving a lot farther than 200 miles, there is the Superior Hiking Trail in Minnesota, and the Porcupine Mountains and Trap Hills in the UP of Michigan.  All are much more scenic than the Ice Age Trail and North Country Trail segments in Wisonsin, which, while being nice backpacking experiences, gotta be honest here, aren't exactly "grand" scenery, just a lot of thick forest.

Scenic bluffs in Wisonsin are found in the lower Wisconsin River, Mississippi River and Devil's Lake.

For Illinois, you have to head way down south to the Shawnee National Forest for 20-30 mile backpack hikes and scenery.  The River-To-River Trail is oft-mentioned here.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 03 2013, 11:40 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thank you so much for the responses thus far!

I am going to read through them and look at the different suggestions and likely post back with some more thorough questions.

Thanks again!
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 03 2013, 12:36 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

To sum up, strictly based on your desired 200-mile driving radius, here are your options:

Kettle Moraine State Forest, WI:  Both South and North Units, shelter-type camping on the Ice Age Trail. The Lapham Peak Unit though does have a backpack campsite on its Ice Age Trail segment.

Black River State Forest, WI:  Forgot this one, the whole forest allows dispersed camping.  Only the Wildcat and Smrekar XC-ski trails though offer developed hiking trails of sizable length, but you'd need to be pretty creative to stretch them into a 20+ mile hike.  Good for a shorter overnighter option, and the views from the ridges/bluffs are great.  There are also miles and miles and miles of ATV/snowmobile trails throughout the forest.

Levis-Trow Mounds, WI:  Just north of the Black River State Forest is the large Clark County Forest, which also allows dispersed camping.  The Levis-Trow Mounds is the prime hiking and mountain biking rec area of the forest, with similiar terrain to the BRSF (steep-sided hills rising up from a level forested landscape), but with far more trails, both wide XC-ski and singletrack MTB.

Yellow River State Forest, Iowa:  This is in the Mississippi bluff area, so lots of hills.  Easily can do 20-30 milers.

Manistee River Loop, MI:  The loop combines the Manistee River Trail with part of the North Country Trail. Popular overnight 22-miler.

Going beyond a 200-mile radius and you get these options:

The Ice Age Trail and North Country Trail segments in northern WI.

The Porcupine Mountains and Trap Hills (on the NCT) in the UP of Michigan.  Best options period for wilderness-style backpacking.

The Superior Hiking Trail in Minnesota, and beyond that the Kekekabic and Border Route Trails.

Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois.

Hoosier National Forest in Indiana.

The Ozarks in Missouri and Arkansas
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 14 2013, 11:21 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Well i tried sending you a message but apparently messed it up. I live in Southern IL, grew up feet from the River to River Trail, and now only live less than 5 minutes from it. I know the Eastern Half of the Trail as good as any. If interested in learning more about it or needing help planning a hike feel free to contact me
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 25 2013, 5:44 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(DerekD @ Jul. 14 2013, 11:21 pm)
QUOTE
Well i tried sending you a message but apparently messed it up. I live in Southern IL, grew up feet from the River to River Trail, and now only live less than 5 minutes from it. I know the Eastern Half of the Trail as good as any. If interested in learning more about it or needing help planning a hike feel free to contact me

Hey Derek, did we exchange PMs before regarding the R2R and the Shawnee? I thought maybe we had. I have spent a lot of time mucking around the east side.

I was going to suggest to Chicago Ryan that he extend his travel a bit and hit the Shawnee after a rainy spell, if possible. Burden Falls, Jackson Falls, Double-Branch Falls are all great during wet periods. And there is great hiking if you are good with a map.

The Manistee River Loop is another good option, but I think the Shawnee might be a tad closer for Ryan.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 27 2013, 9:54 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yes, Burden Falls is great. After a rainy time Bell Smith Springs can be very rewarding as well
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7 replies since Jul. 02 2013, 1:40 pm < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

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