Wednesday, July 18, 2012

An Unknown Treasure

The locals probably knew about the trail at Cooper North Park along Route 29 in East Peoria, but I didn't.  I went looking for a different place to walk and found nothing that looked interesting.  I was on my way back to the house when I decided to pull into the park.  It has a nice parking lot and picnic area, but did not give much of a hint as to the adventure to come.  Toward the Illinois River, there is a choice.  To the left, a trail leads to an area near Jonah's Seafood restaurant.  Straight ahead, the trail leads directly to the river's edge.  I chose the trail to the right.

The trail goes through the woods and is wide enough for a vehicle.  It is mostly gravel.  I do not necessarily like walking on gravel, but it wasn't too bad.  Since the trail is near the Illinois River, the topography is pretty flat.  About half way to the end of the trail, there is a boardwalk that takes the hiker over marshland and backwater from the river.

The boardwalk is fairly long.  There are some views of the river along the way.  Other than guessing how far the boardwalk goes, it was interesting to see the wildflowers and the water plants that grow in the marsh.  The trail and the walkway are a pleasant walk.  I had no idea where I would come out.  As I would discover, the end of the boardwalk ended at the parking lot for Spindler Marina.  I decided to keep going.  Through the parking lot and the campground to the trails north of the campground.

These trails were compacted sand that were little more than ruts from the golf carts in the campground.  The best part was taking the side trails to the Illinois River.  Hard to believe that there are beautiful sandy beaches along the river.  There were quite a few geese, both on the beach and in the water.  Even though they leave a mess, they are beautiful to look at.  It has been a long time since I had walked along a beach.  Sand and tennis shoes do not necessarily go together.  I took the side trails to the river as often as I found them.  It was so peaceful and quiet.  Although I had seen some people biking and hiking along the boardwalk, I did not
see anyone on the Spindler Marina trails, just me, the woods, the sand
and the geese.
The McClugage Bridge was seen at a distance.  I kept walking in a northerly direction and eventually reached the bridge.  Standing under the bridge spans is a whole different perspective.  The trail continues going north, but I stopped at the bridge and went back the way I had come.  By the time I reached the bridge, I was ready to sit a spell, but there was no chair in sight!  Next time I will park at Spindler Marina and keep going on the trail to see where it goes. 

What a great walk!  It was different walking on flat land since I usually hike where there are steep climbs.  It was a nice change of pace.  As much as I would like to walk these trails again, I will probably wait until the heat subsides a bit.  Otherwise, I would have to start very early in the morning.  Walking is great exercise, but it is also good for the soul.  I refer to my hikes as going to the Temple of the Tall Trees.


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Unknown said...

Did you ever continue on that Trail to see where it goes?