What better place to immerse yourself in the uniquely beautiful natural habitats of the Lower Lake Michigan Basin Area than by visiting one or more of its state parks! Imagine hopping on your bicycle, cruising a few hours past the city and its noise then suddenly finding yourself immersed in a tranquil landscape that looks and sounds like what most of the State of Illinois looked and sounded like before the City of Chicago was even an idea.
Native prairies, wetlands, oak savannas, and a myriad of other ecosystems, all support their own unique and delicately balanced life forms. As you coast along the moraines left behind by glaciers over 10,000 years ago, you are engulfed in the natural beauty of this setting, hard to believe just earlier that day you were pedaling through the crowded streets of Chicago.
Many of us in Chicago believe that the natural beauty of our country doesn’t begin until one moves west through The Rockies or maybe east over Appalachia. Many of us believe that Chicago is simply surrounded by suburban sprawl and boring corn fields. Many of us in Chicago do not realize that the beauty, peace, and wonder of the native Illinois landscape lies right outside our front door, just a day bike ride away.
Now imagine taking that bike ride and even spending a night with the crickets and frogs of the surrounding wetlands singing you to sleep. Wake up to sun-dappled trees, filled with the morning songs of dozens of different types of birds. Breathe the dewy air as you step out into the morning with a beautiful nature area to explore.
As you try to decide what to do for the day, a friendly ranger or host looks over local maps with you, discussing their favorite hikes and picnic spots. These rangers live for these moments, to welcome you in on one of our region’s best kept secrets, its State Parks. These rangers and hosts have spent countless hours and even years exploring and preserving it, tidying up the trails, simply preparing to help its visitors have a great time experiencing its natural beauty.
One standout example of a knowledgeable and enthusiastic park host is Peter Hru at Chain O’ Lakes State Park in Northern Illinois. He has been with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for ten years and is not only always ready with all kinds of cool hike suggestions, but also with a warm smile and a quick joke. He is loaded with amazing stories, especially concerning his awesome and sometimes ridiculous bicycle adventures, like the time he and a friend rode in a group ride of 40 miles on a tandem bike “just for fun.”
Peter is not only passionate about The State Parks of Illinois, he also is a big part of the bicycle community in Northern Illinois. He has been a warm supporter of Out Our Front Door, helping with lesser known but better routes to the park as well as delivering a consistently jolly spirit ready for all who arrive to Chain O’ Lakes, especially those pedaling in.
Peter is a great guy to meet, whether you are a bicyclist, a naturalist, or just enjoy a good laugh. He will put you on the right path to exploring the beauty of Chain O’ Lakes State Park, which is along with Peter himself, just a couple of the many treasures of Northern Illinois that you will get to know and appreciate along the North Loop Ride.
Connecting you to this park and to people like Peter is one of Out Our Front Door’s main goals as an organization. Whether you discover the beauty of our region on one of our tours or if you are simply inspired to go see it on your own, these connections keep Out Our Front Door inspired and moving forward as one of the main points of contact between citizens, local historical societies, nature organizations, architecture groups, biking organizations, artists, writers, and photographers With these partnerships, we aim to create a more informed public through active adventures leading to greater care, knowledge, and appreciation of our outdoor spaces and an active lifestyle.
Post by: Glenn Schneider
Illinois | Indiana | Wisconsin | Michigan
The only way to get lost is within your own sense of wonderment-
To learn more about weekend bike adventures and tours in the Lower Lake Michigan Basin Area
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