Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Day Trip to the Cache River State Natural Area - Shawnee National Forest

A Day Trip to Cache River 

When I travel to Illinois to visit my family everyone always assumes I'm going to Chicago. If you've ever been to Southern Illinois where my family is from, you'd know that Chicago might as well be on another planet. Southern Illinois is both geographically and culturally distinct from the rest of the state.

Maybe I'm a bit biased because my roots go back to this land since the 1800s, but I think it's one of the most beautiful places in the world (during every season except winter).

During my visits I usually visit the Shawnee National Forest, honestly it's a bit hard to avoid. This land makes up 280,000 acres of Southern Illinois and is part of over seven different counties.

This summer we took a day trip to the Cache River State Natural Area to check out the swamp and the cypress trees.

Cache River Wetlands Center

We started at the Cache River Wetlands Center to learn more about the area. They have a great exhibit that tells the geographic and cultural history of the area as well as descriptions and samples of the flora and fauna. We were instructed to watch out for "Tick feeling the call of love" before we set out on our hike.  

Singing: Katydids

Big Cypress Tree Trail & Canoe Trail

We headed out to check out the state champion bald cypress tree, and found that exploring the river trail by canoe would have been the better way to go. Next time we'll definitely be renting canoes. White Crane Rentals will rent you one for $15 per person for 2.5 hours.

Cue "Dueling Banjos"

Little Black Slough Unit

Over the river and through the woods...

We then ventured by car over to the Upper Cache River, an easy walk took us over a bridge to the horribly named "Little Black Slough Unit".

Bridge Over River Cache
The "Unit" is what the Illinois DNR website calls "a floating carpet of brilliant emerald duckweed" and that about sums it up. There's a floating path so you can walk into the swamp and the canopy of cypress trees. The green of the duckweed and the leaves on the trees are indeed a brilliant emerald like I've never seen.

Floating Walkway

Cypress Canopy


Wild Rose
Unfortunately that was all the time we had for the trip, but we plan to visit again, and check out more of the 20 Day Trips in and around the Shawnee National Forest

More photos from the Cache River State Natural Area

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