Ah! Can you feel it? Spring is here.
Daffodils blooming, trees budding, and the deep greens of freshly sprouted grass brighten up the landscape.
The warmer temps, demand that we venture outside of our winter caves and feel the tinge of brilliant rays of sun.
Many people’s first thought is to get out and take a walk in the woods.
The following 7 Tips will help you get the most out of your precious time and help plan your Great Spring Hike.
1. Choose an Appropriate Destination
Spring is all about new growth, wildflowers, and water. Determine what you would like to see and plan accordingly.
- If you want to see New Growth consider — Bell Smith Springs
- If you want to see Wildflowers consider — Rim Rock
- If you want to see Water consider — Cedar Creek
2. Do Your Research
After determining an appropriate destination the next most important thing to do is RESEARCH.
- Check out the Shawnee National Forest Website and especially the interactive map.
- Visit the Illinois State Parks website
3. Multiple Hikes
Consider going on several short hikes where you can sample several different natural places. You will come away with different experiences and be able to compare and decide what you and your hiking partner liked best about the hikes.
- If going to Garden of the Gods combine with Rim Rock.
- If going to Giant City consider the Giant City Nature Trail and the Trillium Trail
- If going to Ferne Clyffe consider the Big Rocky Hollow Trail and Round Bluff Nature Trail
4. One Long Hike
Some people like short multiple hikes, some like one long epic hike and there are plenty to be found in Southern Illinois.
These hikes sometimes require more planning and the ability to read topographical maps and navigate with a compass or GPS, but if you are comfortable without trail markers and signs, these hikes can be very rewarding.
- The Granddaddy of Giant City State Park is the 12-mile Red Cedar Trail.
- The Loops of Lusk Creek Wilderness
- The Godwin Trail traverses two great wilderness, Clear Creek and Bald Knob.
This is personally my favorite tip, especially for spring hiking. There is a lot to see if you just stop and observe your surroundings.
During this time of new growth, take with you a wildflower identification guide. Check out the Peterson Field Guide: Wildflowers or the more concise and simpler to use Peterson First Guides: Wildflowers.
I have personally spent several hours with family and friends on a short .75 mile trail just taking the time to identify whats growing.
Kids love it and so do adults.
6. Write it Down
This one may seem odd to folks at first, but find a small notebook or a piece of paper and write down what your expectations are about your hike. Do this the day before you hit the trail and afterward write down what really struck you on the hike.
Did the sun light up the running water? Did the fresh air feel good filling up you lungs? Did ideas or thoughts come to you while you were clearing your mind of societal pressures?
I have personally been an avid journaler for over three years now and find the ability to look back and read about my journeys are almost as rewarding as the hike itself.
7. Just Go!
That’s the easiest thing to do, Just Go!
Grab a friend, spouse, or child and just get out there and see our beautiful changing forest. Forget about the planning and see what lies ahead.
Just remember, what is important is your frame of mind.
Keep it lively, open, and willing to learn a thing or two about your surroundings and your sure to have one of the Best Spring Hikes in the Shawnee Hills.
Did I leave out any suggestions you think should make the list? Don’t sit back, Tell Us.
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