Happy New Year, friends! It's been ages since I've been able to post about our local adventures! I went back to work full-time and am enrolled in some courses for work- so needless to say, I have felt like a crazy person for the last three months and haven't had time for my hobbies! The Holiday break has given me time to relax, recharge, and rethink the purpose of doing so much at once - and I've concluded that multi-tasking with no plan splits me in so many directions that I truly don't even have time to think about what I'm doing, I just do. Which is kind of pointless. So I've decided to reduce my class load, leave work at work, get my $#!& together (with my new Passion Planner) and concentrate on what truly matters to me. Like creating a community for families for explore and understand their environment. I've got big plans for 2017 so stay with me!
With all the stress of work and school in the Fall, one of the things that kept me grounded was having a chance to get out and hike. It really just helps me clear my mind, engages all my senses, and helps me center myself in a way I can't do otherwise. We had such a mild Fall! I am pretty sure we were still in shorts through October! With all that nice weather we had many chances to get out to Starved Rock - which is one of my favorite places to hike in the Midwest. Last Fall, was our first time back in ages and we loved it so much we took every chance we could get to get out that way this year. Last year, we went with our family and Weston was still a little fry so we did a pretty easy hike on the Illinois Trail that could accommodate everyone. This year, it was just us, so we decided to try some of the more moderate-to-hard trails. So over Labor Day weekend we set out to hike the St. Louis Trail.
We ended up parking near the boat dock and had to hike a side trail to get to the St. Louis Canyon Trail.
The trail was a little soggy from the rain the week before and slightly overgrown, but it beat walking along the road. Do you think I could make a living making wooden trail signs? I seriously love them.
The trail we took led us up a steep staircase (typical for most trails at Starved Rock) up the side of the bluff. At the top of the bluff, the trail widens, leading you through the woods and around some interesting rock formations before winding down into the canyon. Weston wanted to get out of the carrier and walk, so we let him down. I know that many people are worried about their kids running off the bluff, and rightfully so, it's a long way down! On flatter terrain we're a little more loose and we let him run ahead, but on the bluffs, we make sure he stays next to us on the opposite side of the bluff, and always encouraging him to stay on the trail.
The trail ends at a gorgeous waterfall surrounded by sandstone canyon walls covered in ferns and lichens. There are a lot nooks and crannies to explore when you get down into the canyon including some great rock formations as you approach the waterfall. We took our shoes off and dipped our toes in the water and let Weston run around for a bit and tried to grab a few family selfies.
It's so hard to get a family picture on the trail! But I am a huge fan of .gifs so I consider this a win!
There is also a little beach-like area created from the weathering of the sandstone from a rock fall. The trail was packed and there were many people resting, relaxing, having a picnic and soaking-up the gorgeous weather! We did, however, notice A LOT of litter. Weston kept running around grabbing trash and yelling "look, Mommy! litter! have to pick it up." We used some of our doggy-doo-doo bags to pack some trash out, but we needed to keep some for, well, doggy doo-doo, so we couldn't grab it all. When your on a hike be sure to bring a small trash bag to throw your trash in- pack it in- pack it out! And help keep our public spaces beautiful for everyone!
We headed back the way we came but decided to loop around to the Visitor's Center to take a potty break. From there you can reach a different trail or hike them all- depending on your experience level and how far you want to hike.
2688 East 873 Road
Oglesby, Il 61348
Phone: (815) 667-4906
Trails open Sunrise to Sunset
Check website for lodge hours
HIKING WILDLIFE VIEWING HORSEBACK RIDING CANOEING/KAYAKING/RAFTING CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING SNOW SHOEING ICE CLIMBING HISTORIC LODGE PICNIC GROUNDS CAMPING
RUSTIC TRAILS - BRING CARRIER
STEEP BLUFFS - KEEP CHILDREN CLOSE AND WATCH YOUR STEP
TRAILS IN THE CANYON CAN BE WET AND SLIPPERY - BRING CHANGE OF SHOES IF SHOES ARE NOT WATERPROOF
DOG FRIENDLY - NO DOGS ALLOWED INSIDE EXCEPT FOR GUIDE ANIMALS
FOOD, DRINKS, AND SNACKS AVAILABLE AT THE LODGE AND VISITORS CENTER
SEE YOU ON THE TRAIL!