Monday, November 7, 2011

My Favorite Hiking Spots

It's my absolute favorite time of the year and trail hiking is by far my favorite activity which most likely stems from growing up only 5 miles from the Dunes State Park. I'm not sure there is any better view in the area than standing at the top of the dunes, watching the lake barrel into the shore with the Chicago skyline in the far distance. There's a spiritual aspect to every hike I do out there. No matter how I'm feeling before starting, I seem to always have found my center, my calm by the end of the hike. It's not just at the Dunes either. There is a greater presence in every hike that I do whether I'm at Chellberg Farm, The Dunes, Imagination Glen, or Coffee Creek. It makes me truly believe that we have created certain disorders like anxiety or attention defecit due to our fast paced, high stress lives. I can't remember ever feeling stressed while walking a trail, far from the noise of cars, cell phones, and email "alerts". I feel so blessed to have grown up in an area where we have so many options for getting back out to nature! Below you can find websites for my four favorite hiking trails and my own opinion of each.

The Dunes (National Lakeshore) - Chesterton

My favorite place by far! It costs $5.00 daily or $36.00 for an annual pass - well worth it! Where else can you hike amazing trails and then take a stroll along the beachfront all in the same hour!?

Chellberg Farm - Porter

Free admission with gorgeous nature trails. One of my favorite winter hiking areas! The terrain is mild to medium and there is plenty of interesting things to explore: old farm house with equiptment, a cemetary, and Baily Homestead. They also have a Maple Syrup festival each year where you can taste freshly sapped maple syrup!

Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve - Chesterton

This park offers easy, fun trails with great picture opportunites. It's not always easy to hike with a one year old, but this is my favorite place to bring Lyla. I have a three wheeled stroller that does pretty well on the trails, but they also have sidewalks for walking in addition to their paths. It's not the best "nature" trails, but still beautiful and a nice get away! My favorite "picnic" spots are at this location!

Imagination Glen - Portage

These trails are mostly used for mountain biking, but pre-baby, this was by far our favorite place to hike with the dogs! You might get some dirty looks from the mountain bikers if you get in their way, so keep and eye and ear out for them. We found we rarely encountered bikers and it was a great workout with the all of the hills. I can't wait to take Lyla out there once she has mastered the art of walking!