Scouting and Walking
I’ve been planning this outing for a while.
In Ted Villaire’s book, 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Chicago, there are several hikes in the Illinois River Valley chapter that I have wanted to walk. Since many of these walks are fairly far from my home, I thought I’d do one reconnaissance mission and do three or four mini walks to see which ones would be appropriate for willing family members to join me at a later time.
Reconnaissance is right up my alley.
My first stop was the western side of Channahon, Illinois. I have walked along the Illinois & Michigan Canal in the eastern part of Channahon. Today though, I wanted to continue going west on the I & M Canal where it joins with the DuPage River. I enjoyed walking along the canal at the state park and seeing the locks, turtles, and great herons.
As the I & M bends south, it runs near the Des Plaines and Kankakee Rivers. All three rivers converge nearby to form the Illinois River. Near this convergence, I stopped briefly and walked around McKinley Woods Nature Preserve. We will definitely come back here for a hike through the woods to the canal and river.
Next, I drove south and west to Goose Lake Prairie State Nature Preserve. This preserve is run by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and is the largest contiguous prairie in the state. Some of the prairie has being reclaimed after the land had been farmed and mined. Farmers planted most of the trees that I saw (as wind breaks). The tall grasses and prairie flowers were absolutely beautiful.
I took four additional pictures which I have entered in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea (my take on sea–a sea of grass).
I drove then within the Goose Lake Preserve to Heidecke Lake where I saw kildeer, herons, and a smaller pair of birds (spotted sandpiper, perhaps) along the shoreline. This lake was originally a cooling station for a generating station. The constant flame of industry burning is visible across the lake as well. I’m guessing, by the large number of docks, that this is a popular fishing spot on weekends. I’ve read that bald eagles have been spotted here in the winter–that’ll get my family members to join me here some time!