Featured Image Photo Credit: Natural Intuition Photography
The Midwest is notoriously flat, with some detractors even going so far as to call us the “flyover states”. With our vast agricultural fields, prairies, and forests, we may not be as dramatic as states with a mountain or an ocean view, but we have a beauty all our own - and it’s best experienced on a hike.
When you’re on the trail, you’re disconnected from the outside world, nestled in a cocoon without the constant pinging of technology or the fast pace of a corporate lifestyle. You can take notice of a particular plant with unique foliage or be wowed into silence by the grandness of a natural waterfall or the appearance of wildlife. It’s one of those little pleasures that is different every time, and the peace I feel when I’m out on a hike just never ever gets old.
Hiking in the Midwest is one of my favorite past times, so I thought I’d share a few of my most recommended trails with you.
3 Hikes You Have to Take in the Midwest
Devil’s Lake State Park
I may be a little partial to this Wisconsin-based hike because of my geographic location. Devil’s Lake State Park is a common destination for folks in the Madison area because of its beautiful views and access to water for activities like paddleboarding, kayaking, and more. As for hiking, Devil’s Lake has over 29 miles of hiking trails that include portions of the National Ice Age Trail.
Some of my favorite family memories are here at Devil’s Lake. My son’s crew has rowed the beautiful lake over the years, and both my daughters have had engagement and anniversary photographs taken here. Pro tip: take the Merrimac Ferry to get to Devil’s Lake State Park. It’s free, and it’s one of Wisconsin’s hidden gems. Devil's Lake Photos thanks to @naturalintuitionphoto
Photo Credit: Natural Intuition Photography
Meyers Beach - Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
The Apostle Islands are one of those places that you would never expect to find in the Midwest. Avid hikers and outdoorsmen head to the Meyers Beach hike to take in the stunning landscapes this trail provides. Here’s why: the trail leads to an inland cave! Exploring this ages-old landmark is a great respite after a hike that will definitely leave you a little sweaty.
Turn your hike into a small vacation - this trip is completely magical. It’s one experience that I can’t recommend enough if you want to explore the Midwest.
Starved Rock State Park
I grew up in the Chicagoland area, and Starved Rock State Park was a great regular getaway. This spot in Illinois is another outlier in the traditional belief that the Midwest is all flatlands. This hike shows off our region’s distinctive environmental features, including bluffs, sweeping ravines, and even waterfalls. The “starved rock” that the park is named after refers to a massive butte that overlooks the river running through the area, creating a dramatic frame around the picturesque landscape. If you’re looking for an intermediate hike, this is your best bet, as there are 13 miles of trails at your disposal that take you through various levels of elevation and a variety of terrain.
Hiking in the Midwest isn’t just a great way to get your heart rate up, it’s also a fantastic way to connect with nature, to get outside of the hustle and bustle and slow down to appreciate the beauty of our region. Start with these hikes to get a taste of the magic of the Midwest. I’ll see you on the trails!