My Hike Through the Todd Fink-Heron Pond Trail at the Cache River State Natural Area in Illinois

Here are the pictures in slideshow from from my hike through the Todd Fink-Heron Pond Trail.

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After my visit to the Superman Museum on July 25, I wanted to do something outdoors, and I kept seeing mention of hiking trails relatively near Metropolis, Illinois. Also, ya know, after five hours in the car and then mostly walking slowly through a museum, I was looking forward to some restorative nature and moving.

To be honest, I hadn’t planned to go hiking. I planned to visit museums and then go to my hotel. As such, I was decked out in sweatpants and a t-shirt, which is not exactly the best hiking gear. Still, one area I kept hearing about was the Todd Fink-Heron Pond Trail, which is part of the Cache River State Natural Area in Johnson County, Illinois. It was maybe 17 miles from the Superman Museum? I didn’t mind that extra little “hike.”

Even getting to the trail was a bit of an experience, though. First, yesterday was a gorgeous day, or so it seemed. As soon as I started driving to the trail, it began showering profusely, like windshield wipers at the fastest setting type of showers. Then the showers stopped almost as abruptly as they had begun. Then after I was done with the hike and back in my car, the showers started again.

The trail itself was “out in the boonies,” as I like to say. It’s the sort of “out in the boonies” that the GPS basically goes, “Uh, it’s like, out there somewhere, good luck.” In other words, the GPS, unlike normal places, couldn’t pinpoint precisely where the trail was. As such, I was tentatively steering my car through a back-road area, and not quite sure where I was going. I turned at one point into what looked more like a private drive, and backed out quickly. Then another car leapfrogged past me, and I followed them around the winding back-roads until we reached a parking area for the trail.

This wasn’t a particularly difficult hike. It’s basically a 1.5 mile trail that takes you across a bridge to a floating boardwalk in the middle of a gorgeous cypress-tupelo swamp, which according to one website, is a “signature destination” to the Cache in the Midwest.

But I’ve never, to my recollection, hiked through a swamp area before. My lack of preparation for this impromptu visit to the swamp quickly manifest itself. While the hike itself wasn’t treacherous or difficult or even hilly, the bugs were an absolute menace. Seriously, I’ve never been bombarded by bugs while hiking like that. Sure, there’s been times when they get in your face, but this was perpetual and extensive. They were constantly at my face, neck, and arms (and for a moment, in my mouth). It made the hike extremely uncomfortable, and most certainly contributed to me not going as deep into the trail as I could have.

I felt a bit like Nic Cage there in The Wicker Man. I just kept swiping my Miami University Ohio cap at them. I was miserable, to be perfectly honest. The saving grace was that the pond was as beautiful as advertised, and made the entire bug-menacing trip worth it.

Take a gander at the gallery slideshow above and at how strikingly green the pond is! And the trees! It’s one of the most gorgeous hikes I’ve ever taken. As I said, too, I enjoy being in nature because being in nature makes you feel good; it’s the immersive quality of hiking, the stunning sights of nature’s beauty, but also the sounds. So I also stopped to capture some of the sounds:

But if I ever go again, I’m making sure to bring some bug spray and wear shorts instead of sweatpants.

What have been some of your favorite hikes?

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