Birdwatching, photography, relaxation, meditation, exercise – people love to hit the trails for all sorts of reasons.
ILLINOISouth is home to several great parks, preserves and other attractions that feature hiking and walking trails. Here are five that we think are definitely worth the trek. With many different features and difficulty ratings, just about everyone can find a trail on our list that fits…
Grab your pack, lace up your boots and take a hike.
1. ELDON HAZLET STATE PARK (CARLYLE)
Come out to this 3,000 acre site featuring an out and back trail which is accessible year-round. The trail is well maintained in the beautiful wooded area surrounding the west shore of Carlyle Lake, the largest man-made lake in the state. This is a great spot for bird watching and a number of activities are available at the park.
2. WILLOUGHBY HERITAGE FARM (COLLINSVILLE)
Ongoing restoration has made this authentic 1930s-1950s Midwestern farm a fun and family-friendly conservation reserve. Three miles of hiking trails through prairie and wooded areas provide a scenic walk in the heart of Collinsville. While at the farm, see what’s growing in the gardens; and check out the historic structures and tools.
3. NEWTON LAKE STATE FISH & WILDLIFE AREA (NEWTON)
Along with a five-mile bike trail, this recreational hotspot includes 22 miles of trails for hiking and horse-back riding. Looking for more outdoor fun and adventure? Visit the land around this 1,775-acre lake in season for fishing, waterfowl hunting, archery, turkey hunting and more. You may even catch a peek at a prairie-chicken. These unique birds are endangered in Illinois, and Jasper county hosts the largest of thee flocks that exists in the state!
4. RAMSEY LAKE STATE PARK (VANDALIA)
This state park takes up almost 2,000 acres and offers hunting, fishing, hiking, horseback riding trails, snowmobile trails, a walking trail, camping, picnicking and more. Whether you just want to relax or are looking for an energetic outdoor getaway – Ramsey Lake has it.
5. FULTS HILL PRAIRIE NATURAL PRESERVE (CHESTER)
Explore this moderate 1.6 mile loop trail near Prairie du Rocher. A wooden staircase for half of the ascent, followed by a dirt path to the top. The descent travels through both hill prairie and woodlands down a step path. The total climb is about 250 feet. Make sure you bring your camera – the scenery is picturesque year-round, making this unique excursion completely worthwhile.
What did we miss? What’s your favorite stroll to take in ILLINOISouth? Tell us in the comments below or click here to tell us on Facebook!