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Chicago Region Trip?
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Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Chicago Region Trip? on 09/08/2010 08:49:03 MDT Print View

Hi All - I'm gonna take my lil bro out on his first trip in a few weeks. He lives in Chicago, and I'm going to have to pick him up, then take us to the trailhead. I was planning on taking him up to Chequamegon NF, but because of work schedules etc, we just don't have the time to make an 8 hour drive from Chicago to the trailhead.

So I'm looking for a good place that's within 6 hours drive of Chicago. Our plan is to get to the trailhead Friday, hike for a few hours, camp, Saturday full day hike, then Sunday hike for a few hours back to the trailhead.

Anyone got any good suggestions? I was looking at Nicolet NF and Manistee NF, but wasn't sure if I was looking at anything good. Wisconsin state forests want $10/day for parking plus camping fees (what?!?!).

And while I'm at it, what will the bugs be like in the first week of October?

Matt Mioduszewski
(water-) - F

Locale: pacific nw
nordhouse dunes wilderness on 09/09/2010 07:00:48 MDT Print View

Sorry I can't be of more help, but being from the midwest and camping a lot (have you looked at Nordhouse Wilderness area on the Michigan side? Googlemaps gives it 5hrs--I'll post the gmaps link at the bottom. Though it could be 6 hrs depending on where in Chicago you're coming from.

As far as bugs, nada. Weather? I've camped out at Nordhouse in late october and it was early-winter conditions, cold, blustery, no people, frosty, most of the leaves off the trees. but very pretty! and we think a cougar or something followed our tracks at night when we came off a big dune and went to the lake and back. I've also been there in early-mid october and had total indian summer, incredibly leaves, pleasant at the beach. Even in summer the lake breezes can sometimes be beneficial enough to keep any bugs at bay.

It is a decent first backpacking trip, perhaps with 20 miles total of trail available, you can go as long or short as you like. Some of the big dunes right on the beach that are well wooded at their top have some primo camp spots.


Edited by water- on 09/09/2010 09:01:30 MDT.

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Re: nordhouse dunes wilderness on 09/09/2010 12:33:27 MDT Print View

Thanks Matt!

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Ice Age Trail on 09/09/2010 14:57:06 MDT Print View

You could check out the southern portions of the Ice Age Trail. Since its not a finished trail, you'd have to check to see what portions are open, and what camping restrictions are.

Douglas Raymond
(Dougr320) - F

Locale: Indy
Shawnee nf on 09/09/2010 15:21:24 MDT Print View

The Shawnee Natl frst in southern I'll is pretty. I was just there last weekend. Bald knob and garden of the gods wilderness areas are two of my favorite spots

Jason Teckam
(jasont) - F

Locale: Upper Midwest
Try the Northern Kettle Moraine on 09/13/2010 15:38:26 MDT Print View

They have backpack shelters and about 30-ish miles of trail. You will cross some more developed areas, but it is a fun little hike and is along the ice age trail.

Not the most remote wilderness in the world but a nice hike with many hills and some good scenic overlooks. You might get some decent color that time of year too.

Bugs... maybe. It's been a crazy year here. I was down at that section a few weeks ago and did get hit pretty hard. You could get nice and cool no bugs, it could be warm(70+) with skeeters. Plan accordingly with either long sleeves / pants or bug spray.

Have fun!


Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Thanks! on 09/13/2010 17:37:28 MDT Print View

Thanks for the additional spots everyone!

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Thanks! on 09/13/2010 19:32:59 MDT Print View

Note: I haven't been to any of these yet, but is what I found when looking for some backpacking locations in my area for Scouts. My understanding is Forest Glen is the best newbie backpacker site near Chicago.

Argyle Lake State Park (IL)
Big River State Forest (IL)
Forest Glen Preserve (IL)
Sand Ridge State Forest (IL)
Shawnee National Forest (IL)
Trail of Tears State Forest (IL)
Yellow River State Forest (IA)
Manistee National Forest - Nordhouse Dunes (MI)

You can locate these (with URLs) and all the others on my map.