Biking and Hiking Combo Adventures - October 2022
"I hope I can be the autumn leaf, who looked at the sky and lived. And when it was time to leave, gracefully knew life was a gift."
Welcome to the October 2022 colorful Edition of MILES PEDDLED (MP). The subject matter of this Month’s Edition will be, what has now come to be a tradition, the BIKING AND HIKING COMBO ADVENTURES. Playlist suggestion: AUTUMN SONG, by Van Morrison.
Before we get to the subject matter of this Month’s Edition, Management has some postscripts to address from prior editions of MP. In particular, a follow-up to the AUGUST/SEPTEMBER SUPPER CLUB EDITION; and, some additional information regarding the bike safety issues raised in the JULY 2022 Edition of MP.
Please recall that in the delicious August/September 2022 issue of MP, Management set forth several Supper Clubs which had nearby biking. Well, the New York Times must have been paying attention to the renaissance going on in the Supper Club scene. Specifically, in September of 2022 the Times named THE HARVEY HOUSE in Madison, Wisconsin as one of its top 50 restaurants. This is quite the accomplishment for a restaurant that has only been open for a little bit over one year. As stated in the recently published book entitled: Mastering the Art of Cooking and Biking (published by MP House):
Food at the Harvey House celebrates its Midwestern roots featuring continental cuisine with its own modern twist. The menu is lined with an array of innovative dishes from chicken liver mousse served with pickled shallots and port wine jelly; to a Superior walleye served with pumpernickel, savory cabbage, spaetzle, and horseradish sabayon. In addition, there is a spectacular relish tray featuring crudité vegetables, whipped ranch, deviled eggs, and applewood smoked trout on rye.
After enjoying the spectacular menu at THE HARVEY HOUSE loyal subscribers to MP will need to Ride, Relax and Rejoice!
Now on to the follow-up regarding bike safety. Please recall that in the July 2022 Edition of MP Management drew to the loyal subscribers attention the pronouncement from the CHICAGO DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION that the City would be installing concrete barriers to protect all bike lanes. The loyal subscribers to MP were encouraged to contact Mr. DAVID SMITH of the Department of Transportation to encourage the City to follow-up on this promise.
In response, loyal subscriber THE TEACHER contacted Mr. Smith and made her feelings known. As a result thereof, the City has begun to install the promised concrete barriers. For example, see the attached pictures which are the concrete barriers that have been placed on Kinzie Avenue running from Wells Street west to DesPlaines Avenue. Thank you to THE TEACHER.
As an aside, please note that Mr. Smith did contact management at MP and was very appreciative of the many emails he received from the loyal subscribers.
Now on to this Month’s attraction, HIKING AND BIKING COMBO ADVENTURES. Playlist suggestion: WALK OF LIFE by Dire Straits.
Illinois, Indiana, and southern Wisconsin offer trails that are free, close, not congested, and have their own spectacular version of Midwest beauty. There are many such trails within a 1-1/2 hour drive from the City which can be enjoyed as a day trip or better yet a long hiking and biking weekend. Management has set forth 4 of their favorites. As usual, Management will rely upon its loyal subscribers to use Google maps or the more enhanced DMAPS to obtain directions to the recommended trails.
To the trails:
1. PALOS TRAIL SYSTEM
The Palos Trail System is located approximately 23 miles south of Chicago.
· Playlist suggestion:
UP AROUND THE BEND by Credence Clearwater Revival
There are numerous trails to hike and bike in the Palos Trail System. Your best bet is to go to the Cook County Forest Preserve website and print out a trail map. The Palos Trail System has 42 miles of trails that are rated from easy to very difficult. There is a surprising amount of elevation on the more difficult trails. One of the easier trails starts at the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center in Willow Springs and runs for approximately 2-1/2 miles through Black Oak and White Oak Forest.
A more difficult hike is the BULLFROG Lake Trail.
For the most part, the same trails that you can hike on can be ridden on a mountain bike. The Palos Trail System is considered to be the premier single track mountain bike trail system in Illinois. As SANDERELLA is fond of saying: “Put on your big boy mountain pants and get peddlin’.”
2. INDIANA DUNES NATIONAL PARK
Indiana Dunes National Park is located 37 miles east of Chicago.
· Playlist suggestion:
THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKIN’ by Nancy Sinatra
Jason King who teaches geography at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills recently recommended the Paul H. Douglas trail which is located in the western part of the Indiana Dunes National Park. He describes the hike as “moderately challenging 3-1/2 miles out and back, partly through sand dunes so it’s a workout. It’s a truly unique trail…I can’t think of another where, in a couple of miles, you see a forest, you’ll see a marsh, you’ll see a unique biome called a black oak savanna, then the dunes, and finally you’re at the shore of Lake Michigan.”
Nearby the aforementioned hike is the Calumet Trail that runs 13 miles from PORTER BRICKYARD TRAIL northeast up to the Blue Chip Casino Hotel & Spa. Go a tiny bit further and you will end up at the Zorn Brew Works Company. Management suggests, skip the betting and engage in the drinking.
3. KANKAKEE RIVER STATE PARK
Kankakee River State Park is located 58 miles south of Chicago.
· Playlist suggestion:
WALK THIS WAY by Run-D.M.C. (featuring Aerosmith).
From the Kankakee River State Park, you can access the ROCK CREEK TRAIL. It is a short, but very interesting 2 mile loop which takes you past a waterfall, a couple caves and a hidden pond. There is even an area where the Rock Creek enters the Kankakee River that is popular with swimmers and people floating in innertubes.
Accessible from the Kankakee River State Park is the Kankakee River Trail. It is a paved bike trail that runs 10 miles from the north to southeast. With a little jog on some country roads, you can continue for another 5 miles into Perry Farm Park. Total ride 15 miles one way.
Kankakee River State Park is a triple threat. In addition to the hiking and biking you can also kayak the Kankakee River. Once again, this is accessible right from the park. A very nice kayak with several islands in the river to stop and have a picnic.
4. ROCK CUT STATE PARK
Rock Cut State Park is 86 miles from Chicago. Like Kankakee River State Park it is also a triple threat.
· Playlist Suggestion:
DREAM POLICE by Cheap Trick (Rockford’s favorite sons.)
The best hike in Rock Cut State Park is an approximate 6 mile loop around Pierce Lake. A very scenic hike with several places to stop and use the washroom along the way. Rated easy to moderate.
There are several mountain bikes trails in Rock Cut State Park.
In addition, the Willow Creek Trail runs parallel to Willow Creek from the west end of Pierce Lake through the park for approximately 3 miles. From there, you can cut across on some bike friendly roads and get over to the Rock River Recreational Trail and ride south along the Rock River for approximately 11 more miles until you end up at Prairie Street Brewing Company. An approximate 14 mile trek one way.
The building that now houses the Prairie Street Brewing Company has a long and distinguished history. In 1849, an English beer enthusiast named Jonathan Peacock settled on the banks of the Rock River with one thing in mind: brewing his own beer using time tested European methods and locally sourced ingredients. Later, the building became home to the Rockford Brewing Company. Today, you can enjoy some upscale pub fare and microbrews served in an old fashioned quarters with outdoor seating overlooking the beautiful Rock River. Well worth the journey.
The journey is so nice that recently the MAD VIKING (MV) with his sidekick the RENAISSANCE MAN (RM) led an expedition of loyal subscribers down the trail to the brewery. On Day 1 RM bought everyone dinner. On Day 2 MV paid for all the drinks. This latter occurrence is almost like seeing a unicorn.
Rock Cut is also a triple threat in that the Rock River is a very enjoyable float. The recommended paddle starts at Macktown boat launch located at the confluence of the Rock River and the Pecatonica River in the Macktown Forest Preserve.
As an aside, several loyal subscribers to MP including the CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD (COB), the NOBLE IRISHMAN (NI) and the POLISH PRINCE (PP) are very familiar with the launch point since it is right behind the pavilion where they sucked down many a beer and lobster.
Back to the float, you would then proceed in a generally south direction with the current for approximately 6.5 miles down to RIVERSIDE PARK. Recently, MV led an expectation down the Rock River on this route. The highlight of the trip was the history lesson provided by MV; as well as 2 bald eagles seen on the River.
Mini Trivia: As all loyal subscribers know, the bald eagle is the national bird of the United States. Which of the founding fathers, however, was against the bald eagle having been chosen as the national bird and why? The answer will be in the postscript section.
Once again, back to the float. With a little pre-planning, the paddle down the Rock River can be done with only one car and bikes. You would have the pleasure of riding the Hononegah Trail.
Now it is time to move on to Month’s Trivia/Quiz section. Below are 3 questions regarding Illinois State Parks. The answers to the questions will be in the postscript section.
· What is the first State Park in Illinois?
· What is the largest State Park in Illinois?
· Which Illinois State Park was voted as having the prettiest camping site?
TEASE TIME: As many of the loyal subscribers to MP will recall, the November 2021 Edition was the renowned BUYING GUIDE. With the upcoming holiday season, and as part of Management’s effort to forestall a recession, this will be the subject matter of the November 2022 Edition of MP. Playlist suggestion: BABY’S GONE SHOPPING by Jimmy Buffet.
Time to go, but one last thought from Management to all of the loyal subscribers: “Happy trails to you, until we meet again. Some trails are happy ones, others are blue. It’s the way you ride the trail that counts, here’s a happy one for you.” – Dale Evans
Happy trails to all and remember to R, R & R!
Answer to Mini Trivia:
Which founding father was against the bald eagle being the national bird of the United States?
BEN FRANKLIN, who said the following:
“For my own part I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country. The bald eagle is a bird of bad moral character that does not get is living honestly because it steals food and is too lazy to fish for himself.”
Answer to Maxi Trivia:
· What was the first State Park in Illinois?
Answer: According to DMANOPEDIA the first State Park in Illinois was FORT MASSAC STATE PARK located on the southeast tip of the State of Illinois overlooking the Ohio River. The park opened in 1908. As the name implies it was the former grounds to a French fort.
· What is the largest State Park in the State of Illinois?
Answer: With nearly 8,000 acres of scenic beauty, PERE MARQUETTE STATE PARK is the largest State Park in Illinois. Located at the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers near Grafton, Illinois the park has a campground, beautiful hiking, biking, fishing, and horseback riding.
· Which Illinois State Park Was rated as having the prettiest campsite?
Of all of the loyal subscribers to MP, there is, by far one expert on Midwest camping and that is RM. He has camped his whole life throughout the Midwest. In the year 2022 he did 152 days of camping. Thus, deferring to the expert opinion of RM, the most beautiful campsite in an Illinois State Park is located at Rock Cut State Park Site Number 20. Playlist suggestion: BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN by Harry McClintock.