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Artwork courtesy of Susan Johnson
HomeHiking 2020-2021 Season

Hiking with FOS

The "official" hikes of the 2020-2021 season ended with the Miller Beach hike on March 28.  However, members continue to lead short notice hikes throughout the year.   Sometimes these hikes are posted on the calendar; other times they come out through google groups announcements.  Email notifications should go out to membership once a hike is announced.  Everyone is welcome to participate and bring family members and friends along.  

Weather Feed

Miller Beach, March 28 - Our rescheduled hike was perfect!  The group met at the Douglas Visitor Center on Lake St in Miller Beach.  We enjoyed watching birds at the feeders while we waited to leave.   This is a very nice area.  We start out through the woods, pass by several ponds and wetland areas before crossing a channel that stems from the lake.  After climbing a moderate dune area we enter the beach.  The last couple of years we've hiked over to Marquette Park in Gary and then made our way back to our cars.  This year we felt safe enough to have lunch together to conclude our day. 

Although this was our last scheduled hike, hikes will continue throughout the year.  Members will be notified via email when they are scheduled.  Thanks, Bernie, for putting together our schedule and coordinating the club hikes.

Our group at the beach. Very windy!

Bikes display at Visitor Center

Against the Wind

The view along the trail

The Group

At the Top of a Dune

Cowles Bog:  The Cowles Bog hike near the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was originally planned for the end of January.  It had to be rescheduled due to weather.   Twelve hikers showed up for what some of us consider to be the most strenuous hike of the season.  The hikers were Bernie, Fern, Jim B., Andi, John, Jim T., Alison, Jeff, Lois, Karen, Scott and our newest member Kathy. Welcome Kathy! 

Coming Down (Sometimes Worse than Going Up!!)

The Lemont Quarries - The Forge Recreation Area

This was a new hike for FOS members.  In keeping with what appears to be a tradition this season, it was hard to say how this hike would go due to weather.  Not extreme cold, snow, or wind.  Not this time.  Now it was the rain.  But luck would have it and even though there was drizzle at the beginning of the hike, the weather cleared and we proceeded without a problem.  

We began this hike at the Recreation Area. There were no guests there, so we were able to walk around and see what they had to offer.  Employees were training for the upcoming season.  Looked like fun.

We then went on with our hike.  The trails were still pretty snowy in spots and in order to be cautious with slippery conditions we opted to stay on clear paths whenever we could.

The Lemotte Hiking Group

Hiking on one of the paths

The Recreation Area

More of the Recreation Area

Starved Rock Hike, February 2021

There were five members attending the annual Starved Rock Hike this year. The skies were a bit overcast but the temperature was just right for hiking and many other people came out to enjoy the day. The FOS group decided to hike out to LaSalle Canyon this year, so from the lodge we started on the trail. Because of the recent snow the stairs and steps had a lot of snow still on them making traversing them a cautious chore. All the flat areas were easy to travel with the snow packed down. We walked on top of the bluffs for most of going out and then went down to the bottom land just past Wildcat Canyon. At this time of year, the waterfalls are usually frozen and this trip didn't disappoint. Wildcat(the highest), LaSalle and Tonti canyons all had frozen waterfalls and ice climbers and we were able to go up to and around all the waterfalls.

Returning, we trekked along the river and took in views from Eagle Cliff and Lover's Leap where we saw eagles on the river ice.   From here we followed the trails back to the lodge. A great day and a fun hike.


January/February, 2021

The 2020-2021 hiking season has been rocky at best.  We've battled high winds, cold, and snow.  But that's winter in the midwest.   The January 2021 hike at the Dunes was our third trip to these trails.  The Trail 9 hike had been diverted earlier in the season because of strong wind, but we were able to complete it in January.  A gentle snow fell and the hike was very pleasant. 

Unfortunately, our next hike scheduled for Cowles Bog was canceled because of heavy snow. That one has been rescheduled for March 14.  Hopefully our next scheduled hike to Miller Beach will be obstacle free.

Fern, Lois and Andi

(Notice the FOS masks??)

New Year's Day, 2021

On Jan 3 determined hikers met at Goodenow Grove for the traditional New Year's Day hike.  This event was postponed due to an ice storm on Jan. 1.  Hikers have sure put up with a lot this hiking season with weather!  We had to wait about 40 minutes to get into the area due to the center not being plowed, but once in we were glad we waited.  The kids were out in full force on the sledding hill, the weather cooperated and it was good to be out in the fresh air.  

Jim, Fern, Andi & Scott

Horsetail Lake/Swallow Cliff

The Sunday before Christmas a small group of hikers met at Horsetail Lake in Palos for an annual hike in this area. This is a great hike that takes us through mostly flat woods and leads to the stairs at the toboggan slides. The view at the top is always worth the climb.

One one of Jim's weekday hikes a small group of us hiked a portion of the Outer Belt trail.  We began at Sweet Woods, hiked the bike path and entered the woods near the 394 overpass.  The woods in this area are very scenic with some ups and downs, rivers and bridges.
Below are some views from Jim's December hike on the Marquette Trail.  This hike began at the entrance to West Beach, proceeded west to Marquette Park and circled back along the lake to the West Beach pavilion.  The hike was approximately 8 miles.

Thorn Creek Nature Preserve/Governor State Sculpture 

On Sunday, Dec.13 nine members of the hiking group met once again for fresh air, exercise, and a good time.  Our hike began at the Thorn Creek Nature Preserve in Park Forest, IL.  This is a very nice spot to hike. Its flat, scenic and usually not muddy due to several boardwalks on the trails.  We hiked here for about 2 hours before heading out to Governor State University two miles down the road to walk the grounds and look at the many sculptures.  This was a very pleasant experience.  Our pace was slow as we stopped to read about the sculptures and the artists.  We did not see all the park had to offer, opting to save it for another time.  We were fortunate the weather cooperated - the sun came out early and it was calm.  After our early hikes, calm is a very welcome weather condition. 
The slideshow to the right can be viewed full screen by selecting the full screen button on the lower right side of the picture.  

GSU/Thorn Creek Hike

On Dec. 6 we returned to the Bailly Chellberg Homestead, a part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. There was an overnight snowfall in the area, and although it was not a significant accumulation, it created a beautiful landscape that stayed with us throughout the morning.

Trail 2, Indiana Dunes State Park

Our Trail 2 hike at the Indiana Dunes on November 29 turned out to be spectacular.  The temps were near 50, it was sunny, and it was calm.  Nine hikers met at the campground near the trailhead to begin an approximate 5.5 mile hike through the woods.   The terrain was flat and the pace was slow.  We were able to enjoy quiet conversation and frequent stops to just appreciate the day.  It was like we all needed a rest after a hectic Thanksgiving.  

Pictured are Frankie, Dennis, Andi, Jim, Scott, Susan, John and Fern

Hiking with Jim T

In addition to our scheduled club hikes, FOS members and friends can also go on any of Jim T’s hikes.   Many of these hikes occur during the week which provides an option for hikers who find their weekends busy with other obligations.    Some of Jim’s hikes this year have been at the 
Lake Renwick Heron Rookery Nature Preserve in Plainfield, Thorn Creek Nature Preserve in Park Forest, Kankakee River State Park, and Lake George/Wolf Lake in Whiting, IN.  For more information contact Jim at

Pictured left: Jim, Jeff, John, Alison
Pictured right:  Susan, Alison, John, Karen, Andi

John, Lois, Andi, Dennis, Alison, Jim, Fern and Freda

West Beach, November 15, 2020

To go or not to go – that was the question on Saturday as FOS hikers followed the weather forecast. Being always optimistic, we decided to meet at West Beach and if conditions were unfavorable, cancel at that time. At 9:30 eleven FOS hikers were gathered in the rain and wind, watching the radar on our phones. But it was looking good. It was clearing. By 9:50 we were off. The hike was great, as usual, and we were protected in the woods from the wind. The waves at the beach were incredible. After hiking, several members went on to enjoy lunch.  

Walking along the high dune

High waves in the distance



November 1 -  Trail 9, Indiana Dunes


The first hike of the season was at the Indiana Dunes State park. Seven of us met for our annual Trail 9 hike. It was a day full of surprises. Snow showers greeted us before our hike. It was extremely windy. In fact, we had to turn around on the ridge on trail 9 as we felt it was too dangerous to proceed. The winds were strong enough to force us off the high dune. And what a drop (or roll) that would have been. Otherwise, the hike went well in protected woods. We then drove to the lake to view the high saves. They were spectacular. In spite of the cooler temps and winds, the hike was great. And as always, we enjoyed catching up.

Its hard to tell, but that's Andi, Fern and Lois at the beach.