June 27, 2016
2355 E 75 S, Albion, IN 46701
Hikers: Julie, Casie and Darren
Distance: 4.5 miles
I am always happy when one of my kids join me on a hike and today, I was lucky enough to have two! I remember when I first started taking walks with Darren (my oldest). We started not long after he learned to walk. I had purchased an “all-terrain” stroller but he wanted nothing to do with it. He was all about walking! I remember strolls down our lane, which is a little over a 1/4 mile long, and it taking all afternoon. We stopped at every rock, flower, bug, or any other thing that caught his eye. I used to get frustrated at times but I now realize that we were sowing the seeds for his love of nature very early in his life. Today he is a college student studying biology and I can barely keep up with him as we hike!
Today’s trek started at the parking area across from the restored Stanley School that now serves as the Chain O’ Lakes Nature Center. We crossed the road and headed out on Trail 8, winding our way around Finster Lakes.
I’ve found that walking in the woods brings a connection with nature that cannot be achieved in any way but experiencing it directly. The natural world has been inspiring writers and poets since the invention of written language.
We used a wooden foot bridge to cross one of the channels connecting the lakes of the park. After the bridge, we connected with Trail 6.
We headed east on Trail 6, following the channel to Long Lake. The park cabins overlook Long Lake and we found a nice pier to sit and enjoy the view.
The trail then followed a channel connecting Long Lake to Sucker lake before looping into the Glacial Esker Nature Preserve.
Here the trail was open woodland with some decent hills. Some helpful stairs made the hill climbs more manageable.
Even though the spring wildflower bonanza had passed, we still were treated to an occasional flower brightening the trail.
After a brief foray into the nature preserve, the trail looped back towards the campground. Thunderheads built and rain threatened at times but we managed to stay dry for out entire hike.
Our plan was to cross through the campground and meet up with Trail 1 to take us back to our starting trail. As we have found in the past, the trails are not marked through the campground and it took us a bit to find our way. We eventually discovered the campground spur for Trail 6 and 1 (combined at this point) just behind campsite 380.
We continued to follow Trail 6 along the south shore of Dock Lake. We eventually found ourselves back at the bridge for the channel that would connect us with Trail 8. We then completed our loop, back at the Stanley School House where we started.