Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Giant City State Park

(Marion, IL) Hi 81 Lo 58 -- It was a sunny, warm and perfect day. Our son used to live in Cape Girardeau, MO, which isn't far from here. Last night he told us about  Giant City State Park, which is about 20 miles from us. So we had a big breakfast and took off for a day of hiking. (Whaaat? Us hiking?)

We’re generally not outdoors type people, but once in awhile we'll get out to see what this "nature" thing is all about. :) We stopped at the Visitors Center and watched a couple of movies about the area and how it developed. The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) built the bridges and cabins, along with other infrastructure, during the depression of the 1930's. We checked on hiking trails in the park. They range from a couple that are 1/3 mile long, to a 12-mile horse trail that goes around the whole park. We started with a 1/3 mile trail that was classified as "easy."

It was nothing spectacular, but we saw some nice trees and plant life. We also saw a couple of chipmunks.

The most popular trail is the Giant City Nature Trail. It's one mile long and classified as "moderate."

This trail took us through the sandstone bluffs that the park is noted for. These sandstone formations were formed 12,000 years ago. There are many caves and overhangs that Native Americans used for living quarters hundreds of years ago.

Many of the stone walls had holes eroded in them, which was fascinating to look at. I thought they looked like beehives, and Jim said they reminded him of sea coral.

This shot of Jim gives some size perspective to the formations.

This rock wall seems to be suspended in the air. There was no one around and we could hear the echoes of dripping water. It sounded creepy.

Another perspective shot.

The mulch trail was wide and the footing was good.

This looks like a face eyes, nose and mouth sticking out.

This rock has been balanced on this ledge for thousands of years.

The main feature of the trail (and the park) is "Giant City Streets." These large sandstone formations have split over 12,000 years, forming narrow "streets" between the rock cliffs.

I liked this tree that's trapped between the rock walls.

This looks like a great hiding place.

The trail was comfortable to walk on, but there were several steep uphill and downhill sections, which really taxed my breathing. Jim did really well. Every walk I do I still have a trouble breathing, but I definitely wouldn't have been able to do this hike a year ago. I guess all that walking is doing me some good. The bugs are out, but not many mosquitoes.

We did get turned around at one point when we came to an intersection and the trail wasn't marked. We started to see markers for the horse trail (which is 12 miles long). Not good. So we back tracked and got back on the proper trail. According to Jim's Runkeeper app on his smart phone, we did about 1.3 miles. The first trail was about .3 mile.

After all that hiking we were really hungry, so went to the Giant City Lodge for some lunch.

The lobby reminded us a little of the Yellowstone Lodge at Yellowstone National Park, but on a smaller scale.

The dining room was beautiful. It was empty except for one large party off to one side, so we practically had the place to ourselves.

Our meals were huge! Jim had the family style fried chicken dinner. It came with mashed potatoes and gravy, dumplings, green beans, corn, Cole slaw, and biscuits. The portions were so large his three pieces of chicken were on a separate plate.

I had a veggie chicken wrap. Guess who's eating healthy in our family?  :)

On the way out of the park we checked out the campground. It has electric and water but no sewer. To us it was a very typical state park campground, lots of trees and miles from the nearest store. Great for nature lovers, and families wanting to get away for a few days.

We had a wonderful time at Giant City State Park. We're so glad our son recommended it to us. Thanks Frank!

We came back home for some much needed showers and plan to relax for the rest of the evening. Tomorrow is moving day. I just hope we can get ourselves moving after all of today's physical activity.


Gail Houle said...

What a nice hike!
Your meals were huge and looked delicious!

owensontheroad said...

You did good, Dee! We have been walking too, and tomorrow hiking in Yosemite. Hope we can do it!

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

What an amazing place. Thanks for sharing. Happy Trails, Penny

Bill and Nancy said...

Way to go...walking in nature is really special...makes exercising more fun!! Lovely place to hike. Nice VEGGIE wrap as well;o))

Donna W. said...

Nice blog. Glad for the pic w/Jim to put the size of the cave in perspective. Food looks great, my heavens thought my restaurant had large portions but that is enormous,guess they know people hike and get hungry.

Bob and Jo said...

The lodge does look like the ones out West. The food looks good.