Its early autumn and the leaves are just beginning to change color. Tall trees filter out the sunlight in this ancient forest of the three fires. The Chippewa, Ottawa and Potawatomi are the three fires that once burned bright in the region of the Kankakee River. I hike the Rock Creek Trail, part of 8 miles of trail, in the old growth forest past the grave of Chief Shaw-waw-naw-ee. Shaw-waw-naw-ee was chief of the Potawatomi and his grave is commemorated by a boulder in a grove of shady pine trees.
Dry leaves crunch under my feet as I hike the trail running through a covered bridge and along a river. It is cool, crisp and the air is scented with pine and other trees from the forest. The over 4,000 acres of parks and 11 miles of river, in Illinois and Indiana, offers a wilderness experience for campers, people canoeing, fishermen, hikers, hunters and horseback riders.
I know there is a stable a few miles down the road at the other entrance to the Kankakee River State Park. The 12 miles of equestrian trails are popular with riders this time of year. I don’t see any horses or riders on this trail. I see squirrels crossing the trail and listen to a variety of birds.
I see a hawk swoop over the water by the river with its majestic swings spread wide. A fellow hiker told me that they nest in the trees by the river. The hawks catch the fish from the river. The Kankakee River offers a magical experience for beginning and experienced canoeists that can last a few hours or a day with spending a night camping out at the Chippewa Campground. I spot the occasional fisherman by a weed bed angling to hook bass, catfish, walleye or northern pike.
The state park is a great place to view the fall foliage, and a for a day hike, backpack trip or camp out in the wilderness. To view more foliage of varieties of leaves and colors from around the world; visit Where’s My Backpack Travel Theme: Foliage.
Resources for Kankakee State Park:
Kankakee River Map