Top 9 Places to Hike in Region 9

Consider exploring one of the many amazing trails in the Eastern Region to take in fall color’s last hurrah! This time of year, the view from below is almost as colorful as the view from above. Whether you’re interested in a short day hike or an overnight backpacking excursion, there is something for everyone in the Eastern Region.

Here are some awesome trails to inspire your trip planning!

 

Illinois

River to River Trail (Shawnee National Forest)

Spanning the Ohio River to the Mississippi River, this 160-mile trail passes through some of the most scenic areas of southern Illinois, including upland forests, wetlands, grasslands and bluffs. The trail leads through some of the most remote areas of the Shawnee National Forest as it passes through five of the seven nationally designated wilderness,’ designated natural areas and several state parks. Abundant with wildlife, you may catch a glimpse of a bald eagle, red-tailed hawk, bobcat, armadillo or red fox, along with the over 250 bird species. Enjoy tranquil locations along the trail such as bluffs overlooking Cedar Lake, painted sunset sky at Garden of the Gods, or migrating waterfowl resting in the floodplains of the Mississippi River. To assist with navigation along the trail, download the new Geo-referenced River to River Maps and use them on your tablet or smartphone.

 

Indiana

Two Lakes Trail Loop (Hoosier National Forest)

This 15.7 mile trail in the Hoosier National Forest is designated a National Recreation Trail. The shaded complex of loop trails includes scenic hardwood forest and beautiful views of Indian and Celina Lakes. The main trail is marked in white, with spur trails marked in orange to offer short, day hikes. Much of this trail is on steep slopes and could take 4-5 hours to hike half the distance. Along the trail's routes, wildlife openings are maintained where deer, turkey, quail, and songbirds are commonly seen. One of the Hoosier's watchable wildlife areas are along this trail. Now is a perfect time to catch the Hoosier’s beautiful fall colors along your hike.

 

Michigan

Agonikak National Recreation Trail (Ottawa National Forest)

Located in the Ottawa National Forest, this 12-mile trail connects Watersmeet, Michigan to Land O’Lakes, Wisconsin. The Trail is a component of the 38-mile Wilderness Lakes Trails bike and pedestrian system that traverses two states and encircles the Sylvania Recreation Area. You can access the Agonikak Trail at the Ottawa National Forest’s Visitor Center in Watersmeet. Before your hike, plan a stop in the Visitor Center to learn more about the scenic Forest and warm up by taking the Visitor Center’s Interpretive Trail. Just 4/10 mile in length, it features interpretive signs that explain the variety of plants and trees you will see.

 

Minnesota

Norway Beach Interpretive Trail (Chippewa National Forest)

Located in the Norway Beach Recreation Area, this trail in the Chippewa National Forest guides you through towering pines. Before your hike, plan a stop at the Norway Beach Visitor Center for information about the trail. After your hike, take a walk along Cass Lake’s sandy beach in the Recreation Area for a peaceful experience. Make sure to pack your binoculars as Norway Beach is one of the best places for bald eagle viewing. The Chippewa National Forest is known to have one of the highest breeding populations of bald eagles in the U.S.


Oberg Mountain Trail (Superior National Forest)

This scenic 3-mile moderate hike in the Superior National Forest features high overlooks providing wonderful views of Lake Superior, Oberg Lake and Moose Mountain. Steep cliffs are at the top, so proceed with caution with less experienced hikers and kids. If you want to extend your adventure, catch up with the Superior Hiking Trail, which is connected to Oberg.

 

New Hampshire

Lincoln Woods Trail (White Mountain National Forest)

The White Mountain National Forest’s Lincoln Woods trailhead is considered the gateway to the Pemigewasset Wilderness, the largest in the northeast. Popular backcountry destinations include the Bondcliffs and Thirteen Falls Campsite. From the trailhead, Eastside and Lincoln Woods trails travel up either side of the river, and intersect with many trails, notably Osseo, Bondcliff, Wilderness, and Cedar Brook. For those looking for a short hike, check out nature trails between a suspension bridge and a pedestrian bridge alongside Rte.112 both spanning the west branch of the Pemigewasset River. A very large parking area has a number of amenities, including restrooms, potable water, interpretive panels, trash receptacles and a cabin staffed several days a week providing visitor information, as well as, maps and longer term recreation passes for sale. There is a recreation fee for this area.

 

Pennsylvania

Twin Lakes Hiking Trail (Allegheny National Forest)

The Twin Lakes Trail is the second longest trail on the Allegheny National Forest. The 15.8 mile long trail begins at the long loop of the Black Cherry National Recreation Interpretive Trail located at Twin Lakes Recreation Area and travels west to join with the North Country National Scenic Trail. The trail is marked with gray diamonds and is designated MORE DIFFICULT and is best suited to hikers and backpackers. At the Twin Lakes Recreation Area, the trail climbs from Hoffman Run over the plateau and then drops into the headwaters of Wolf Run on its way to South Branch Tionesta Creek. After crossing South Branch Tionesta Creek and then Crane Run, a designated wilderness trout stream, the trail then climbs into the Tionesta Scenic Area. Along the trail, Wolf Run, Tionesta Creek and Crane Run are popular trout fishing streams. Some sections of the trail are wet depending on the time of year. The trail ends at the North Country National Scenic Trail in the Tionesta Scenic Area. From there hikers can continue north or south on the North Country National Scenic Trail.

 

Vermont

Spruce Peak Trail (Green Mountain & Finger Lakes National Forests)

The Appalachian Trail joins the Long Trail for about 100 miles through southern Vermont, and the section that climbs Spruce Peak, in the Green Mountain National Forest near Manchester, is a favorite day hike. From the Appalachian/Long Trail crossing on Route 11/30 in Winhall, the trail heads south through the woods along a ridge, climbing and descending several times. It crosses an old forest road that was once the stagecoach turnpike between the towns of Manchester, Bondville, and Peru. A short side trail to the right leads to the peak, with views of Mt. Equinox and the Taconic Mountains. About a half mile south of that is Spruce Peak Shelter, a rustic log cabin used by through hikers. The round trip to the shelter is about five miles, with about 600 feet elevation change, an easy three-hour hike.

 

Wisconsin

Ice Age Trail (Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest)

The 1,000 mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail is a continuous footpath through diverse landscapes that follows the features that mark the furthest advance of the last glacier in Wisconsin. Because of its tremendous geological significance, the trail is one of the only 8 national scenic trails. This 49 mile non-motorized segment runs diagonally across the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Taylor County. Traversing eskers and moraines, around kettle lakes and holes, the trail gives hikers intimate contact with the land forms that were created when the last glacier covered Wisconsin. Trail Lengths: Forest Road 102 to County Highway E - 11.8 miles; County Highway E to Forest Road 108 - 13.9 miles; Forest Road 108 to Jerry Lake - 6.6 miles; Jerry Lake to State Highway 64 - 10.6 miles; Ice Age Loop - 7 miles. What to Expect: Many species of trees, wild flowers, and wildlife can be observed along the trail. Developed campsites and drinking water near the trail are available around the Mondeaux flowage. Camping is allowed at least 100 feet away from the trail or 50 feet away from any waters edge. There are many access points to the trail for those wishing to only hike a portion of the trail. Developed parking areas are available at the Mondeaux Flowage, Jerry Lake and Highway 64 where the trail enters the Forest. When hiking during rainy weather, it's a good idea to wear rubber boots.

 

Always remember when planning your national forest visit, safety first and know before you go!