More Things to do, Places to go

With the coming of the fall season, my last post was about Things to do, Places to go that are close to the Chicago area. This one branches out further, but there are still more things to do and places to go in the northern third of Illinois.

If you live in or near Chicago, fall can be deceiving. The dome of warmer air over Lake Michigan keeps you a little warmer this time of year, though it may not feel all that warm. Out my way, 15 miles southwest of Aurora, we've already had a few frosts with one of them being pretty heavy. The trees are responding accordingly.

On a recent walk around Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area, it's changing to fall. The lush green of the trees has started to fade. Yellows are beginning to appear. Some of the maples are getting a hint of gold and red.

I have no clue how the drought and dry weather will affect the fall colors, but there is always color. For the next three weekends, possibly four, it would be worth your while to do some exploring. Get out for a walk. Bring your camera and see what you can capture.

The column to the right lists a number of county forest preserves and park districts. These alone would keep you busy in your wanderings. There are a number of gems among these listings. You would never think taking a hike along Salt Creek in DuPage and Cook Counties would be worth your while, but look for anything that is up or down stream of York Road in Hinsdale. A fall hike through here would be time well spent.

For those willing to do a little traveling, following is a list of some of my personal favorites. Some I haven't been to in years, while others are visited frequently. All are worth the effort. If you decide to do some traveling, do some research ahead of time. It's well worth making a day of it and taking the back roads to these destinations. Small towns worth visiting, occasional farm stands worth a stop and you'll even get to see some harvesting going on. That always fascinates me. If you stick around till sunset, all that dust being kicked up by the harvest turns the sunset into beautiful shades of gold.

Apple River Canyon State Park
Apple River Canyon State Park is my all time favorite. It's a gem of a park that will make you wonder if you're actually in Illinois. The ride out there alone is worth it.

Buffalo Rock State Park and Effigy Tumuli

Castle Rock State Park

Illinois and Michigan Canal State Trail
You'll notice the I&M Canal State Trail is pretty extensive. I've wandered the trail where it cuts through Morris as well as many miles of the trail much further east. Nice leisurely walk on usually paved trails.

Kankakee River State Park
When you get to Kankakee River State Park, there's another long trail on the opposite side of the river. No amenities there, but worth the hike.

Matthiessen State Park
My wife and I went out to Starved Rock State Park one time and didn't feel like dealing with the crowds. Just down the road is Matthiesssen State Park. We enjoyed this park much more.

Mississippi Palisades State Park
The Palisades are gorgeous. If nothing else, go here.

Rock Cut State Park

Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area

Starved Rock State Park

White Pines Forest State Park
I think the first time I went to White Pines was when I was 12, about 44 years ago. Still as beautiful as I remembered it and worth hiking along the bluff overlooking the creek.

There are plenty of other state parks in the northern third of Illinois. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources website does a pretty good job of listing them all. Most I know nothing about, you can only go to so many, so you may have to do your own research.

State Parks in the northeast region of Illinois

State Parks in the northwest region of Illinois

With all this information on where to go this fall, it should be relatively easy to find one place you like. Why travel to Michigan or Wisconsin for fall colors. There are plenty of fall colors to enjoy within a short drive, right here in Illinois.

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