I have great memories of hiking here with my famiy as a kid, though my mom's recollection is less rosy. My parents weren't the most athletic people in the world (though my mom had been as a girl), but it was important to them to keep their kids active, so they brought me and my three brothers here to hike. At the time, I was around 10, my youngest brother was 5, and my dad was either recovering from or on his way to a quintiple bypass. While I was no more brave as a kid than I am now, my brothers more than made up for it. I'm frankly a little shocked that none of them suffered a serious injury during any of our outdoors excursions, but on this day my 5 year old brother hurt his ankle early on. My dad ended up carrying him most of the way, suffering chest pains all the way, while my mom was terrified that he'd have a heart attack. Good times, right? None of us kids had a clue, though.
Thankfully, our trip was a little less eventful than my childhood visit. We haven't been there since my older boys were J's age, but they too have great memories. Unfortunately, Nathan was at his dad's and couldn't go, but Daniel and his girlfriend joined us. Both my boys have great taste in girls; I've loved all of their recent girlfriends, and they're always so good to J. Plus, the girls' presence makes the boys nicer to their little brother, too. I mentioned to Jeff that it's well worth the cost of another lunch to have the extra peace during the trip!
The Little Grand Canyon trail is a 3.6 mile loop.
|Starting down the trail|
I had grabbed an Illinois hiking guidebook on the way out the door and was not delighted to read that the Little Grand Canyon was once known as the "Rattlesnake Den" due to the prolific snake den that attracted collectors from all over. I could hardly wimp out, though, since our destination had been partly my idea; thankfully, the only snake we saw was a dead one. Still one too many in my opinion.
The forest trail was a little longer than I'd remembered, and J was pretty happy when we finally started seeing the rock. He's more of a climber than a hiker, for sure.
|Checking out the hole|
Even though it's only a 3.6 mile trail, we always seem to make it longer. Once we got partway down, we had to go explore a side section of rock. We sent Daniel ahead to make sure it was climbable for J.
|Daniel on his scouting mission.|
|J is almost to the ledge Daniel is standing on in the picture above this one.|
|Part of our side expedition|
|This is the view down from where Daniel was standing a couple pictures above.|
|Proud of himself|
|Shimmy x 2|
Most of the climbing features naturally carved steps, though there are some areas where less scramble-oriented hikers get some help from steps carved by the CCC.
|You can see a step or two carved into the stone to the right of J's head.|
You do have to watch your footing because the wet rock can be treacherous, but even little kids can do this hike with a vigilant parent (or older brother).
|I can't tell you how many times I warned J to be careful.|
|Back through the forest.|
|Trail marker, most of which were NOT placed at trail junctions.|
|The kids on the bridge|
|J heading under the bridge|
|Jeff and I|