I love my long expeditions into the mountains as much as the next guy, maybe even a little bit more. Days on end out on the trail are what I live for, but when I can't get that kind of time I play weekend warrior just like everyone else. Most of the time when I want to get out for a weekend trip I wander down to Red River Gorge, Kentucky and explore the scenic cliffs, majestic overhangs and dense forest canopy. Sometimes though, I've wondered what else is out there in my reach for a weekend trip. So, to answer this question, I've decided to pick a new destination every other weekend and find 5 more great places to hike within a sort drive of the city I call home, on-top of Red River Gorge.
1. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana
Drive Time: ~4 hours & 20 minutes via I-65
Destination: Dunewood Campground
2. The Shawnee National Forest, Illinois
Drive Time: ~4 hours & 40 minutes via I-64
Destination: Garden of the Gods Backpacking Trailhead
3. The Hoosier National Forest, Indiana
Drive Time: ~2 hours & 30 minutes via I-64
Destination: Two Lakes Loop Trailhead
4. The Shawnee State Forest, Ohio
Drive Time: ~2 hours via Ohio-32
Destination: Backpackers Parking Area outside the State Park
5. Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness, Michigan
Drive Time: ~7 hours via I-31 (Ya its over 5 hours but its worth it...)
Destination: The Nurnberg Trailhead (Heads up, involves 5 mile drive down a sandy dirt road)
Any trip out is a wonderful time, but to find new places to travel to makes it that much more exciting. Some of these places, especially Nordhouse Dunes, I already plan on taking others back to.
"And this, our life exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything."
It was decided that we would drive to California that night and camp, then in the morning we would hit the beach and day hike then backpack up into the mountains for the night. The next day we would come down and drive to either the Umpqua or Alvord hot springs in Oregon and camp depending on the weather at each location. Finally, from there we would continue back the way we came, spending a night in the Salt Flats of Utah and getting home sometime Saturday. All of this happened and so much more…
It was an amazing trip, with amazing sights. We sat in hot springs in the desert, swam in the Pacific, hiked among the Red Woods and wandered the Salt Flats. It shook a little of the urge to run off from me but made me hungry for a long trip out in the backcountry. I made great new friends and figured out that I’m pretty damn good at solving my problems (especially when I-80 closed and we had to detour through the back roads of Wyoming). I look forward to my next adventure, I couldn’t have been happier with this one and I’ll keep dreaming of more.
The Hopeless Wanderer