By Wade Ellett, QC Outdoors Adventure Blogger
Though I’m generally pleased anywhere I can stretch out and not feel fenced in, I’ve found that few things make me feel as wild and free as finding an amazing getaway. Even one that doesn’t include camping!
Check out my list of top 6 scenic day-trip getaways – and top 10 spectacular views – that are both near and a bit farther away.
Everyone knows I love Blackhawk State Historic Site and hike the 6-mile trail system there often. One of the reasons I never get bored is a lovely view of the Rock River, where I love to stop and relax.
Follow the trail running alongside the river, and you can’t miss the observation platform where you can spend a few moments taking in the sights and sounds of the birds, the breeze, and the water flowing downstream.
Head over to Sylvan Slough Naturalized Park’s observation areas. You’ll feel like you’re miles and miles away!
You can walk, run, or bike your way there via the Rock Island segment of the Great River Trail, or there is parking available if you only have a few moments to get outside.
Tons of beautiful birds use the area (hello, White American Pelicans!), so keep your eyes peeled for them as well!
Another great spot in the area is Illiniwek Forest Preserve.
Hit the trailhead at the Eastern-most parking lot on the South side of Highway 84. There’s a sign indicating the start of the trail to the scenic overlook; there are some pretty steep stairs to climb along the way, so take your time heading upward.
Your efforts will pay off when you reach the top and you’re treated to a view of the river and a light breeze blowing across your face. Keep in mind that some of the trails are open to mountain biking, so be alert and respectful of others on the trails.
If you’re of a mind, check out the campground. It’s close to home, but feels like a vacation!
Take a Longer Drive:
These next spots are a little farther from the QCA, so you’ll have to devote a little time to driving if you want to visit.
Look at that as an opportunity; you can spend the day away, do a little hiking, and see some incredible scenic views. Consider packing a picnic lunch or even camping. They are wonderful sites!
#7. Lowden State Park:
Just up the Rock River north of Dixon, you’ll find the scenic views named after an Illinois governor. You won’t find a massive trail system at Lowden, but the 4 miles of hiking in the park will take you along the Rock River, side by side with tall pines, and through deciduous forest.
It’s a great place for some leisurely hiking, and it has a great view of the Rock River and the streets of Oregon Illinois.
The majestic statue of “The Eternal Indian” that was placed 120 feet above the river is being restored now, but the view from that point is still spectacular!
Views 1-6. Mississippi Palisades State Park:
In some ways, this park really is the queen of this list. Palisades, however, doesn’t have just one great view, it has several.
A number of them can be reached by driving through the park, then taking short walks to the overlooks themselves. Starting from the South entrance, these include, (#6) Lookout Point, (#5) Oak Point (which is wheelchair accessible), (#4) Louis Point and (#3) Ozzie’s Point.
As these overlooks are all in a line along the same road, they all offer a view of the Mississippi River. Don’t let that stop you from exploring them all; they’re each different enough to warrant a stop. Trust me when I say the photos don’t do them justice!
Interested in a bit more of a challenge? Don’t worry, Mississippi Palisades Park has you covered!
#2. Try hiking High Point Trail from the Northern entrance. At the end, you’ll find yourself at a shelter overlooking the surrounding lands from a bird’s eye view. It’s a great place to relax, catch your breath, and have a snack, all while taking in the beauty around you.
#1. You can also take Sentinel Trail from the South park entrance, which will lead up to another amazing view of the Mississippi, this one featuring the “Twin Sisters,” a pair of vertical stone formations often frequented by climbers. The hills are steep to get to this one, so take your time and exercise caution on the hike.
|Meet Wade Ellett, Let’s Move Quad Cities Outdoor Blogger. Wade is a John Deere Digital Archivist and an outdoor adventurer who shares his passion for QC outdoor adventures here! Read his other posts by clicking here.|