Many months ago my nephew Dakota brought up the idea of going for a long backpacking hike in the summer. We decided on Sand Ridge State Forest near Peoria, Illinois because it had many miles of trails to explore.
We packed up our bags with tons of water, food, and a camping gear, hit the road, and then hit the trails.
The habitat at Sand Ridge is much different from what you’d expect in Illinois. All the trails were coated in thick sand, making each step feel like a step and a half.
Our planned route was a near 15 mile loop but the trail conditions, 90+ degree heat, and our heavy packs urged us to deviate our path a little.
Some of the bird highlights during the hike included a pre-hike Red-headed Woodpecker and Northern Mockingbird and then mostly common stuff, especially Eastern Towhees.
We heard a Kentucky Warbler and some other interesting birds but it was difficult to take the time to identify while we trudged along.
We started at 10:15 am and didn’t get to our campsite until around 6:00 pm.
Once the sun went down, the night birds came alive and we were joyous to hear Whip-poor-wills only several feet away.
Also nearby were a pair of Barred Owls that went through their entire repertoire of hoots and sounds. We even had a coyote howl closer by than expected.
All in all it was a wonderful experience although quite exhausting!
Ounces of water consumed: 120+ each
Miles hiked: 12 (approx.)
Dakota’s bag weight: 28 lbs
My bag weight: 39 lbs
Oh, and this was our first time doing a backcountry hike and camp.