The Midwest offers a plethora of perfect sites for blazing new trails. Here are four hiking spots in the Prairie State and Hoosier State that should delight any outdoor enthusiast.
The Morton Arboretum (Illinois)
About 20 minutes southeast of Wheaton, The Morton Arboretum sprawls over 1,700 acres. This diverse nature preserve offers prairies, lakes, wetlands, woodlands and meadows for a scenic backdrop to any hike. Check out the park’s map of trails to help navigate through 16 miles of mulched, pedestrian-only paths without getting lost. Young visitors can peruse the 4-acre Children’s Garden while older ones can enjoy meandering the 2,400-hedge Maze Garden. Now through the summer of 2019, visitors can also witness the Troll Hunt display. This outdoor exhibit features Danish artist Thomas Dambo’s six oversized trolls constructed from reclaimed wood.
Indiana Dunes State Park (Indiana)
About 30 minutes north of Valparaiso, Indiana Dunes State Park is set against the scenic southern shore of Lake Michigan. Besides steep sand dunes, the park’s terrain also includes 2,182 acres of marsh, swamp, beach, white pine groves and hardwood forests. This location provides 16.5 miles of trails that both hikers and birdwatchers will enjoy. Per the Indiana Dunes website, more than 350 bird species live in or migrate to this region. Make sure to check out the great blue heron rookery for a chance to spot these amazing feathered creatures in their natural habitat. Per the National Park Service, this area is also home to 46 species of mammals, 60 species of butterflies (including the federally-endangered Karner blue butterfly), 18 species of amphibians and 23 species of reptiles. Trails range from easy to moderate to rugged, to suit different skill levels.
Starved Rock State Park (Illinois)
Less than 100 miles from Chicago, Starved Rock State Park makes a great day-trip excursion the next time you crave a physical challenge. Per the park’s website, this venue was voted the number one attraction in the state. It boasts 13 miles of trails and 18 different canyons, as well as waterfalls. Sandstone overhangs and epic overlooks provide great photo ops. Cedar, pine and oak trees provide welcome shade if you visit during warmer weather. Contact the visitor center to inquire about guided hikes available for groups of 10 or more hikers.
Hoosier National Forest (Indiana)
Hoosier National Forest features back-country trails and rolling hills, making it a popular spot for avid hikers. Boasting a mix of forests and fields, this region attracts foxes, possums, squirrels, white-tailed deer, turkeys and diverse bird species. Visitors occasionally see some endangered species, including the Indiana bat, gray bat, fan shell mussel and rough pigtoe mussel. The forest is also home to 165 caves, some of which have been featured in published studies about Indiana karst features. Browse the USDA’s website for a list of different trails to try, including popular ones like Hemlock Cliffs, Two Lakes Loop and German Ridge Lake.
Witness a wide range of wildlife while admiring picturesque landscapes when you hike one of these reputable trails. Whether you go alone or with some friends, you’re bound to have fun reconnecting with nature.
This article is presented by Jennings Chevrolet in Glenview, Illinois.