Thursday, December 8, 2016

Illinois & Michigan Canal Dec. 8, 2016

On my way to work this morning the thermostat in my car was 16 degrees.  It was windy out so the wind chill was in single digits.  Today we had 22 hardy hikers for the walk.  We met in the Lodge's Lobby at 9:00a.m. and carpooled to the I & M Canal in Utica and walked East to the break in the trail.  We then walked back.  About 5 miles total.

Some ice formations on the trail

Still some ice and snow on the bridge going over the Canal.

A little ways on the canal, we came across this creek

As you an see by the way everyone is bundled up, it was cold and windy. It was especially windy the first 3/4 mile or so, then we had some trees to break the wind. (NICE).

There was a bit of ice on the canal.  Most of us just walked around.

Beaver damage.  We didn't see any lodge's but lots of damage.

More beaver damage

From this point Buffalo Rock State Park is 3.5 miles. 

1.6 miles back to Utica.  The larger 89 means that we are at mile marker #89.  There are 96 miles all together.

There is a break in the trail about 2 1/2 miles.  Past this point has been closed.  Just opened up recently.

This is the way the canal got fixed.  This section washed out quite a while ago.

This group (the first 1/2)  Is waiting for the rest of the walkers to get caught up before we turned around and went back.

Some of the ice designs on the trail

This sign was welcome as some of us were frozen upon return.

Almost back.  Over the bridge and back to our cars.
With the cold weather approaching and the ice forming on the trails it's time to start thinking about winter clothing and accessories. Fleece or flannel lined jeans, smartwool socks, long johns, cuddle duds or whatever works for you.  It's time!

Yaktrax Walk and Yaktrax Pro.  Put these on your Christmas list.  When the trails get ice covered you will NEED these.  The only difference between the two is that the Pros have a strap to hold them on (highly recommend).  We carry these in our gift shop. 
I will leave you with this: Someone's opinion of you does not have to become your reality!


  1. Hi,
    How exactly do you get to Aurora Canyon in Starved Rock State Park? I have seen that you go there in many of your hikes. I have been to Starved Rock many times; however, I have never been able to find a trail leading into the canyon.

    1. When leaving the Lodge go on the West Bluff trail. Once over the bridge, if you stay straight you will go to St. Louis Canyon. St this intersection, take a right, go down the stairs. When you get to the bottom there is a sign to Aurora Canyon. Go left, it is a short walk. Come back the way you came. The alternative is to walk straight out of the canyon to the road. The trail crosses the lower park road and goes into the parking lot. The problem with this trail is that it is consistently swampy. We generally go back up to the Lodge the way we came. Enjoy the canyon. You can go on a busy day and will rarely see other hikers.