Friday, July 13, 2018

Exploring Nature and Reveling in Views at Pere Marquette State Park

Hiking Adventure at Pere Marquette State Park in Illinois

Pere Marquette State Park provides some of the best hiking trails in Illinois. Nature lovers know Pere Marquette as a spot where bald eagles nest in the winter. However, the preserve provides for a range of nature adventures year round.


Rustic path at Pere Marquette State Park
Rustic path at Pere Marquette State Park
The trails take you up bluffs and can prove to be a bit of a challenge in spots. So, be prepared to pace yourself and stop in spots if necessary. Bring plenty of water and some snacks.

Stop at the Visitor Center:

Hands on nature exploration is available at the Pere Marquette Visitor Center
Hands-on nature exploration
Before embarking, I recommend a stop in the Visitor Center where you can pick up trail maps. A number of exhibits inside detail the history of Pere Marquette State Park. The park is named after explorer and Jesuit priest Pere Marquette who explored the Mississippi River with Louis Jolliet. The two were the first to map the mouth of the Illinois River where the park rests.

Life size eagle's nest replica at Pere Marquette State Park in Illinois
Life size eagle's nest replica 
The exhibits also include introduction to the geology of the area and the animals that live there. Hands-on elements facilitate learning for kids. The exhibits establish a nice foundation for your Pere Marquette adventure. Plus, who can resist the ability to check out an eagle's nest replica?

Hiking up to McAdams Peak at Pere Marquette State Park
Hiking up to McAdams Peak 
The Views!

For our hike, we chose to hike to McAdams Peak to enjoy the overlook. We hiked on a relatively warm day and took extra stops for little water breaks. Hydration is very important no matter the temperature.

Perched up on McAdams Peak, hikers at Pere Marquette are reward with an incredible view of the Illinois River
Perched up on McAdams Peak, hikers at Pere Marquette are reward with an incredible view of the Illinois River
Once at the overlook, we reveled in stunning views of the Illinois River and its backwater. There are some benches here, so a nice spot to rest and soak it in.

What a view in every direction!

We opted to take a different trail on the way back. This one was even more rustic than the initial.

Cardinal on a path at Pere Marquette
Cardinal on a path at Pere Marquette
We saw many more birds and even a box turtle on this path. My photo came out a bit blurry, but he still is cute:

Box turtle on the move at Pere Marquette State Park in Illinois
Box turtle on the move at Pere Marquette.

There is also a scenic drive that you can take with some overlooks. Here is a look at one we loved:

View from the overlook on the scenic drive at Pere Marquette
View from the overlook on the scenic drive at Pere Marquette

Pere Marquette State Park is truly a jewel along the Illinois River. The state park is easily one of our favorite nature destinations and an ideal place for a nature getaway.

To Know:
  • The Pere Marquette Lodge and Cabins provide a wonderful option for staying in the park. The original portions of the lodge were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1940s.
  • There is a winery and a restaurant in the lodge.
  • Horseback riding, fishing, geocaching and more are available.
  • Winter is the time to see the bald eagles. Be on the lookout for Bald Eagle Days in the winter.
  • When you visit Pere Marquette, don't forget to visit the fun and charming town of Grafton as well.
  • The is a paranormal experience at Pere Marquette Lodge that sounds quite interesting especially for families with teens!
Hiking and enjoying views of the Illinois River at Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton, Illinois

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