We all know that time with family, friends (and nature!) is the best present of all. With school breaks and work vacation, take a little time to check out these places of peace and beauty within driving distance of the QC.
Here’s hoping your New Year is merry, bright, and full of memories. And, from my family to yours, have a wonder-filled holiday season! – Wade Ellett, LMQC Outside Blogger
West Branch, IA
Hike, Fish, Snow Shoe or Ski
Some angler friends of mine suggested I head here to hike around the old quarries, where they like to fish.
A reader also suggested a visit here would be worth my time; she lives right down the road and enjoys snowshoeing here in the winter.
A combination of river bottomland and upland forest, the trail system here isn’t huge, but you can easily get in a few miles.
Once snow falls, you’ll be able to snowshoe, cross country ski, or just strap on some boots and take on the trail!
Trails and Bridge Crossing
I was drawn to Saulsbury Bridge because of the park’s namesake bridge.
The old bridge across the Cedar River was closed to vehicle traffic in the sixties, and all but two spans were destroyed in a fire in the 70s, but the remaining 2 spans are open to foot traffic.
There are also some great trails from the camping area that lead into some great woodland trails.
Be advised, this area is open to public hunting, so be sure to wear bright colors (I recommend an inexpensive orange hunting vest).
Fire Towers, Horseback riding, and Great Forest Views
Big River State Forest is an interesting spot about an hour’s drive from my home in Rock Island.
I love fire towers, and Big River is home to one, located at the headquarters area. Want to climb inside? You can, but you have to go when the office is open, otherwise the gate is locked.
What else can you do here? In a word, lots.
We hiked the Big Pines Trail, but you can also enjoy Lincoln’s Trail, and Wilderness Trail, as well as exploring the 60-mile network of firebreaks interlacing the forest.
There are designated horseback riding trails, and 30 miles of marked snowmobile trails.
You’ll even find roughly 15 miles of scenic roadways, or “auto trails,” where you can slowly drive through the picturesque forest.
Of course, I tend to favor exploring on foot, but the scenic roads are a great compromise if you have holiday guests who can’t hike too far.
Some people call this the most wonderful time of the year, and maybe they’re right.
Even though we tend to think of outdoor recreation as a primarily summer activity, now is great time to get outside with the ones you love.
So, if you’re looking for a holiday gift to give, consider a little time spent adventuring together in the great outdoors. Everyone will have a great time, make some memories, and nothing is better than a winter hike and some old-fashioned hot cocoa!
Happy hiking everybody!
|Meet Wade Ellett, Let’s Move Quad Cities Outdoor Blogger. Wade is an outdoor adventurer who shares his passion for QC outdoor adventures here! Read his other posts by clicking here.|