G. Keenan wrote:
Anyone know any good spots to hike, climb, or camp within a 2 - 4 hour drive of Chicago? I've got some friends coming to town at the end of the month and I'm looking for something active and outdoorsy to do with them?
You probably already know how most of Illinois is either plowed or paved over, and the glaciers took care of whatever geological relief might have existed 20,000 years ago. Don't get your hopes too high, but a few suggestions:
Devils Lake State Park, WI (3-4 hours): A very popular climbing destination with large stone bluffs, a scenic lake, and good hiking (I hear). Very popular with a huge campground.
Governor Dodge SP, WI (3-4 hours): Scenic SP with good hiking and rivers and waterfalls (note that it has been very dry this summer).
Starved Rock State Park (2 hours): A series of sandstone bluffs along the Illinois River, some surprisingly high (50+ ft). State Park camping too. You won't find much solitude here. I hear that nearby Mathieson SP has good hiking too, and is much less crowded.
Morton Arboretum (1 hour): Don't scoff at this. It is a great place to "hike" or ride. Very wooded with several small lakes and surprisingly hilly. It's a really nice spot if you don't have a lot of time.
Indiana Dunes Nat'l Lakeshore (1-2 hours): Neat hiking in woods and sand dunes along Lake Michigan shore.
Ludington SP, MI (4-5 hours): I threw this in because it has pretty extensive hiking in a wooded area along Lake Michigan, along with dunes, nice beaches and plenty of camping. It is also adjacent to Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness area, which makes for a great backpack trip if you combine the two (need to be good at routefinding to make this work).
There are also some neat state parks in the Door County peninsula region of WI, though they are probably 5 hours away. Wisconsin DNR web site has lots of info.