Bourbonnais, Ill.--Last week, I happened to call Bourbonnais mayor Paul Schore after his sons drews the first pick of waterfowl blinds at the Kankakee River State Park. And at the end I just asked about outdoor stuff and Bears training camp.
That led to a story with my pick on three-hour outdoor getaways not far from Olivet Nazarene. It's a story that ran in the Bears package.
Here are my picks:
Picnicking: Kankakee River State Park--(815) 933-1383--about 10 minutes west of Olivet on Route 102, has dozens of open or sheltered tables, feet from miles of hiking and biking paths, and miles of river fishing. Sit and watch the river flow and wind blow in the trees.
Hiking to a nugget: Limestone outcroppsings, known as ``Indian Caves,'' are reachable by a good hike at Perry Farm--btpd.org/1PerryFarmPark.html or (815) 933-9905)--literally within walking distance of Olivet.
Best hike: The hike along Rock Creek in KRSP, with canyons and pools, ranks as one of the top hikes in northeast Illinois.
Float trips: Reed's--reedscanoetrips.com or (815) WE CANOE (932-2663)--offers several options for paddling the Kankakee River. Trip 2 takes less than 3 hours and goes through stunning scenery.
Wet Wading: The best spot for first-time wet waders is around Warner Bridge. Park on either side of the bridge (10 minutes west of Olivet on 102, turn left at the four-way stop), then wade in. For the experienced, there's more than 20 miles of options in the park, explore.
Shore fishing: The mouth and canyons of Rock Creek at KRSP's main area is one of the most scenic and productive shore fishing spots in northeast Illinois. But just about any shore spot in KRSP may produce.
Relaxing bike ride/hike: Perry Farm has four miles of easy hiking and biking trails.
Bike workout: KRSP has a wonderful 10-mile path along the river, with multiple parking spots off Route 102.
Soul restoration: Whispering Willows Park--btpd.org/1Whispering_willows_park.html or (815) 933-9905--only opened a couple years ago, but it is rustic gem with short walks around a pond and through prairie and woods. Drive east out of town on Armour Road, then turn right on 4000 E. Road and go south 2 miles.
Squirrel hunting: Iroquois County State Wildlife Area--(815) 435-2218--a good half hour southeast of Olivet, is one of the few nearby public sites that opens Aug. 1 for squirrel hunting.