Hiking

A Day At Starved Rock(pictorial)

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I started going to Starved Rock State Park In Utica Illinois when I was little. My wife and took the kids here to hike when they were little. We have stayed in the Lodge and cabins several times and it is fantastic. A grand early 20th century lodge that is both elegant and rustic. Great food and just gorgeous. I’ll do a piece on it and review another time but just want you to get a taste.

As a proud Native American the park itself has a great significance  (one nation starved another on the rock, hence the name) so for me it’s always a great hiking  trip. Just a place I connect.

We also love going to nearby Utica to shop, eat and hit the wineries. Look for more pieces on that soon as well. For now I just want to give you a taste of the lodge and trails in the park from a recent trip my wife and I took. I’ll also post more links and info on the history then.

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A trip To Heron County Park Wetlands(sooo cool)

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You just never know what you will run across. Marsh land isn’t common in the central Part of Illinois. Yep it is in the southern part of the state ( you’ve seen U.S Marshalls lol). This area is really unusual here.

It’s actually the North end of Lake Vermillion. Not much like it in this area. A true wetlands. Marsh, bog and just beautiful. They have a great observation tower but also a 950 ft floating boardwalk. You will see eagles, geese and ducks plus birds that I have no clue what they are. And I’m Native American. It’s a great place to relax and refresh. Plus there are a ton of great restaurants close by (look for a piece on our trip to the Nugget soon).

Just a few Miles North of Danville Illinois on West Newell Rd, it is a world class experience for zero cost if you are in the area. Worth the trip if you aren’t!!! Come see us!!!

 

Riverbend Forest Preserve (a great hike & place to canoe,kayak)

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This place is my little relaxation playground when I’m home. When I am not traveling for writing work or fight camps this is my little getaway. In between teaching private training sessions(muay thai,conditioning,sport karate) I head out here with my dog Renegade and hike. It’s very close to town but the trails seem remote at times. Quiet, beautiful and doesn’t look at all like you are in the corn/bean fields where we live. On the weekend you will find me here in my canoe.

This is an old gravel pit with a large area of forest and prairie flowers. The company that operates a large gravel operation here donated this section and it became a park. The water is beautiful. Great fishing. Cool picnic areas. Better yet are they trails where we mostly see nobody. Deer, coyote and fox. Birds of all kinds. You can wander back to the Sangamon river or walk along the bluffs above the lake.

In summer heat it is also a place where I do hill runs and mud runs for training. One warning: In warm months you will run across copperheads and cottonmouths . Most are smaller and not at all aggressive but just so you know.

It’s worth a trip if you are nearby or looking for somewhere different . I’ll let the pictures speak from here out. Enjoy.

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Hiking In Sangamon Park(where I grew up and native landmark)

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Growing up we called this place New park. It was a place hardly anyone went. As a teen it was a place we could get away as well as have an illegal adult beverage or two(not condoning lol). It is in a very rural area of Piatt county where it meets Champaign county. Over the years people have built a number of houses nearby. There are whole developments. Still when you step back into this park, it all goes away. It is this area as it used to be. Prairie, river and trees. For me it holds a special place. As a young man I always felt a strange kindred spirit feeling when we went out there to hike and possibly consume beer. I always felt like someone was watching me, but in a good way.   In later years I found out there was a huge battle here between two native nations. Nobody knows who exactly but the thousands of arrowheads and bloody bones that came up as it was developed let everybody understand what it was. Around here we don’t always get attention from or care about the celebrity archaeologists lol. To this day a section of the river is known to locals as Bloody Bend. Now you know why.

These days living in Champaign county but not far away, it is a place my dog Renegade and I go to get away and just wander. When I am not on the road for fights or travel writing/pr it is one of our places several times a week.

If you are interested in just hiking, native folklore or just need to get away from people give this place a look. I use it for dog walks as well as a place to train(climb hills and force myself to work in bad weather) when I’m building my fight skills. Take a look at some pictures from Renegade’s most recent trip out there.

Give this place a look. Contact me with any questions about the area or how to get there. The county web for it is not very helpful. If you live in the area or are visiting the University Of Illinois it is a great place to get away. Probably 30 minutes from the campus.

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