Monday, June 18, 2018

Favorite Hiking Trails of the Midwest Part 2

Midwest travel writers' picks for favorite hiking trails in the Midwest

Hiking season is upon us and I am looking for new spots for incredible scenery and enjoyable trails here in the Midwest! Last year, I published around up of Favorite Midwest Hiking Trails curated from a collection of the favorites submitted by Midwest travel writers. This year we are adding to the list! Enjoy this second collection of cherished hiking trails throughout the Midwest with ideas from some of my favorite Midwest travel writers:

Illinois

Apple River Canyon State Park

Located in the Northwest section of Illinois, Apple River Canyon State Park affords several miles of hiking trails including through the forest on the hills above the river. The trails are rustic and provide for a little more challenge. A walk along Apple River yields additional serenity and a good way to spot a scenic nook for a picnic!

Rustic path through Apple River Canyon State Park. Image courtesy of A Little Time and a Keyboard.
Rustic path through Apple River Canyon State Park. Image courtesy of A Little Time and a Keyboard.
 Cuba Marsh in Barrington

Cuba Marsh is one of my favorite places to hike in the Chicago area. In addition to the marsh, the hiking trails wind through varied ecosystems including the prairie and woodlands. Additionally, it abuts against Citizens Park which has plenty of space for picnics and a large playground for kids after your hike. We always find quite a bit of wildlife along the trails during our hikes.


http://www.alittletimeandakeyboard.com/2016/05/cuba-marsh.html
Boardwalk winding through a section of Cuba Marsh. Image courtesy of A Little Time and a Keyboard.

Indiana

Hoosier National Forest


This fall we explored sections of Hoosier National Forest for the first time and were mesmerized by the dense wooded expanse climbing over sometimes steep hills. Some areas were punctuated by rock outcrops and another section held a calm lake. The varied environment encouraged further exploration and inspired us!


Towering pines in Hoosier National Forest. Image courtesy of A Little Time and a Keyboard.
Towering pines in Hoosier National Forest. Image courtesy of A Little Time and a Keyboard.
McCormick's Creek State Park

Lindsay from Let Me Give You Some Advice  suggests McCormick's Creek State Park. She details: "McCormick’s Creek offers a nice variety of trails including some kid-friendly easy trails and some more rugged ravine trails. Don’t miss the hike to Wolf Cave, where you can explore inside an actual limestone cave, or the waterfall overlook. The state park has lots of amenities too including a nature center, pool, and lodge."


Rugged landscape at McCormick's Creek State Park. Image credit Lindsay of Let Me Give You Some Advice.
Rugged landscape at McCormick's Creek State Park. Image credit Lindsay of Let Me Give You Some Advice.


Turkey Run State Park

Lindsay also enjoys family hikes at Turkey Run State Park. She explains: "One of Indiana’s most well known state parks, Turkey Run’s trails are a surprising challenge you don’t expect to find in the middle of the farm fields of the Midwest. Trail 3 is the most famous with multiple ladders and creek bed trails. Make sure to wear shoes that can get muddy!"



Enjoying Turkey Run State Park in Indiana. Image courtesy of Lindsay from Let Me Give You Some Advice.
Enjoying Turkey Run State Park in Indiana. Image courtesy of Lindsay from Let Me Give You Some Advice.
Iowa

Effigy Mounds National Park


Donna of DonnaHup.com: A Lifestyle Blog recommends Effigy Mounds National Park in Iowa. She describes: "A visit offers opportunities to contemplate the meanings of the mounds and the people who built them. The 200 plus American Indian mounds are located in one of the most picturesque sections of the Upper Mississippi River Valley."


Effigy Mounds National Park. Image credit Donna Hup.
Effigy Mounds National Park. Image credit Donna Hup.
Kansas


Blue River Trail


Michelle of Visit Marysville introduces us to Blue River Trail in Marysville, Kansas. She describes: "It is a 11.5-mile crushed limestone trail for walkers, joggers and bicyclists that runs along the banks of the Big Blue River. It connects with the Chief Standing Bear Trail in Nebraska so visitors can travel from Marysville past Lincoln on connecting trails. It features beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife and some hand-crafted quilt blocks to adorn a portion of the mile-markers."

Hiking the Blue River Trail in Kansas. Image courtesy of Visit Marysville.
Hiking the Blue River Trail in Kansas. Image courtesy of Visit Marysville.
Michigan

Lake Trail at Fred Meijer Nature Preserve


April of Minivan Adventures shares an incredible trail near Grand Rapids, Michigan: "One of our family’s favorite local hikes is the  Lake Trail at the Fred Meijer Nature Preserve (also known to locals as Pickerel Lake Park) near Grand Rapids, Michigan. This relatively short trail (less than two miles) is super interesting. It features several hundred feet of floating boardwalk, beautiful nature areas, interesting plants, and lots of wildlife. My children especially enjoy examining the many fallen trees – the handiwork of a very active beaver community – along the trail."


Boardwalk at Pickerel Lake. Image credit April of Minivan Adventures.
Boardwalk at Pickerel Lake. Image credit April of Minivan Adventures.


Minnesota

Minnehaha Regional Park

The star of Minnehaha Regional Park in Minneapolis is stunning Minnehaha Falls. However, the park includes a number of interesting trails including a rustic one we took with Minnehaha Creek on one side and bluffs on another. The park's collection of trails and other nature activities easily engage families in all day nature exploration.


http://www.alittletimeandakeyboard.com/2018/06/minnehaha-falls-and-chain-of-lakes.html
Marvelous Minnehaha Falls. Image courtesy of A Little Time and a Keyboard.

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Erin of Due Midwest suggests Nerstrand Big Woods State Park in Minnesota. She describes: "Nerstrand Big Woods State Park has about 11 miles of hiking trails here to explore. You’ll drive through miles of prairie on your way to the park and then you’ll see this huge forest just appear in the middle! Be sure to head down the Hidden Falls trail and walk around the waterfall that cascades down limestone cliffs. The waterfall along with miles of woods make it a cool place to hike on a hot day in the summer."




Hidden Falls in Nerstrand Big Woods State Park. Photo credit Erin of Due Midwest.
Hidden Falls in Nerstrand Big Woods State Park. Photo credit Erin of Due Midwest.

Missouri

The Ozark Trail in Mark Twain National Forest

In Missouri, Janet of Go Learn Things suggests exploring the Ozark Trail in Mark Twain National Forest. She details: "The Mark Twain National Forest has over 750 miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. The Ozark Trail offers long distance  and casual hikes The entire region is rich with outdoor adventures from spelunking to paddling to hiking."



Small waterfall on the Ozark Trail. Image credit Janet of Go Learn Things.
Small waterfall on the Ozark Trail. Image credit Janet of Go Learn Things.
North Dakota

Maah Daah Hey Trail

Alicia of Prairie Style File brings us to the Maah Daah Hey Trail which is a favorite for mountain bikers but is enjoyed by hiker, birdwatchers and horse riders as well. She details: "The Maah Daah Hey Trail winds 144 miles trails through some of western North Dakota's most jaw dropping scenery, from the Missouri National Grassland near Watford City in the north, through river valleys and across rolling prairies to the desert-like badlands bluffs south of Medora. Bring plenty of water (shade is hard to come by and it gets hot) and allow enough of time to take it all in. You might even have the trail all to yourself."

Ridgeline on the Maah Daah Hey Trail. Image credit Alicia of The Prairie Style File.
Ridgeline on the Maah Daah Hey Trail. Image credit Alicia of The Prairie Style File.
Ohio

Metroparks System of Central Ohio

For those whose idea of camping is staying in a hotel, Victoria of JourneysJauntsandJunkets  thinks the Metroparks System of Central Ohio is the best place to hike.  Twenty natural park areas with more than 230 miles of trails and over 27,500 acres of land in seven Central Ohio Counties make discovering the wilderness an option in the city.  Great public programs put on by naturalists, geocaching, outdoor movies at night, and free admission make this choice a family-friendly winner.  Playgrounds, challenge courses, and other man-made structures break up a day of hiking for young children.


Glacier Ridge Metropark image courtesy of Victoria of JourneysJauntsandJunkets.
Glacier Ridge Metropark image courtesy of Victoria of JourneysJauntsandJunkets.

Pleasant Hill Trail at Mohican State Park

Tonya of Travel Inspired Living suggests a visit to Mohican State Park for a hike on the Pleasant Hill Trail. Of the trail she says, "A hike along the Pleasant Hill Trail with the river on one side and occasional rock outcroppings on the other was the perfect way for my family to relax while getting a bit of recreational exercise."


Hiking the Pleasant Hill Trail in Ohio. Photo credit Tonya of Travel Inspired Living.
Hiking the Pleasant Hill Trail in Ohio. Photo credit Tonya of Travel Inspired Living.
South Dakota

Sylvan Lake Trail in Custer State Park

Kim from Oh My! Omaha finds the Sylvan Lake Trail to be one of her favorites in the Midwest. She explains: "Custer State Park in South Dakota is home to one of my family's favorite hikes in the Midwest. The trail around Sylvan Lake is about a mile long and fairly easy for kids. It circles the beautiful lake, and includes a few rocks to climb over - it's more fun than challenging."




Hiking the Sylvan Lake Trail. Image courtesy of Kim at Oh My! Omaha.
Hiking the Sylvan Lake Trail. Image courtesy of Kim at Oh My! Omaha.
Wisconsin

Big Hill Park in Beloit


Stacey from Visit Beloit recommends hiking at Big Hill Park. "Big Hill Park is one of Beloit's most scenic sites. Located on the bluffs of the Rock River, this 190-acre park boasts nature and hiking trails, an environmental education center, a two sheltered picnic areas, restrooms, playground equipment, cross-country ski trails, softball, sand volleyball and a scenic overlook with spectacular vistas." The park also has interesting history with a bluff that once held ski competitions by the Beloit Ski Club.



Hiking at Big Hill Park. Image courtesy of Visit Beloit
Hiking at Big Hill Park. Image courtesy of Visit Beloit

Devil's Staircase Segment of the Wisconsin Ice Age Trail

Kylie from Between England and Iowa explores the Devil's Staircase Segment of the Wisconsin Ice Age Trail in Janesville, Wisconsin: "The Wisconsin Ice Age Trail is over 1000 miles in length but a really lovely short section to hike is the Devil's Staircase Segment located in Janesville.  It follows the Rock River through a woodland area and is well signposted along the route (Riverside Park is a good place to park up, especially as there are toilet facilities!).  The hike is fairly easy going but the terrain does get a little rough is places as you have to navigate a couple of stone staircases!  Keep an eye out for wildlife, I was lucky enough to spot an owl sitting in a nearby tree!"


Owl sitting in a tree along the Devil's Staircase Segment of the Ice Age Trail. Image courtesy of Kylie of Between England and Iowa.
Owl sitting in a tree along the Devil's Staircase Segment of the Ice Age Trail. Image courtesy of Kylie of Between England and Iowa.



Favorite Hiking Trails of the Midwest




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