Watch now: Discover motivation in Peoria’s 100 Mile Hike Membership | Existence

The Peoria Park District’s 540-acre Forest Park Nature Heart in Peoria Heights has 7 1/2 miles of trails. Chief naturalist Kristi Shoemaker describes among the highlights and the 100 Mile Hike Membership.






PEORIA HEIGHTS — To paraphrase a proverb, a journey of 100 miles begins with a single hike.

When you want motivation to take that single hike — and hold going — think about the Peoria Park District’s 100 Mile Hike Membership.

For a $15 registration payment, you get a log e book and sticker. End that 100-mile journey and also you’ll get a T-shirt.

“It doesn’t matter how lengthy it takes them to succeed in their 100-mile hiker objective,” mentioned Kristi Shoemaker, chief naturalist on the Forest Park Nature Heart.



Lenore Sobota, “Discover with Lenore” columnist, rests on a bench alongside the Wilderness Path at Forest Park Nature Heart in Peoria Heights on Nov. 23.




The 100 Mile Hike Membership began at Forest Park, 5809 N. Forest Park Drive, Peoria Heights, however you’ll be able to report miles hiked on any Peoria Park District Path.

Forest Park is an effective place to begin, even when your objective is extra modest than 100 miles.

“We’ve about 7½ miles of trails right here,” mentioned Shoemaker. “There are trails of a number of issue ranges.”



The Pimiteoui Path at Forest Park Nature Heart results in a hill prairie and exquisite views from the ridge. It’s rated tough due to some steep parts.




That features the flat, wheelchair-accessible Valley Path in addition to a flat path by a restored prairie.

“When you’re up for a tougher hike, we’ve got our Wake Robin Path and Pimiteoui Path and trails for everybody in between,” Shoemaker mentioned. “No matter your health stage is, no matter our intent for climbing that day, there’s one thing for you.”

The paths undergo a wide range of habitats. Pets, bicycles and skis are prohibited.



Chief naturalist Kristi Shoemaker crosses a bridge alongside the Valley Path on the Forest Park Nature Heart in Peoria Heights on Nov. 23. It’s a part of a 7½-mile path system of various issue.




The Pimiteoui Path, which begins throughout the highway from the car parking zone, results in a pure hill prairie, and this time of yr, with a lot of the leaves off the bushes, you’ll be able to see the Illinois River from the highest of the ridge.

Shoemaker’s favourite path is the Possum Path, which she likes to entry by way of the Valley Path for a gentler uphill hike and steeper downhill end.

“It goes previous a very nice oak savanna that’s fairly open the place you’ll be able to see a whole lot of wildlife,” she mentioned.



Kristi Shoemaker, chief naturalist on the Forest Park Nature Heart in Peoria Heights, walks alongside the handicapped accessible Valley Path on Nov. 23. Usually closed at nightfall, the Valley Path can be lit with luminaria and open from 6:30 to eight p.m. Dec. 10 and 11 for the annual Vacation Store and Stroll.




On a current go to, red-headed woodpeckers have been ample, however I’ve additionally seen giant, pileated woodpeckers and wild turkeys alongside the paths in addition to deer.

Feeders exterior the character middle constructing present a straightforward technique to birdwatch. Chickadees, nuthatches and a Carolina wren stopped for snacks whereas I used to be there.

Don’t be too intimidated by the steeper trails. Convey a climbing stick and make the most of the benches alongside the best way that function “listening factors” the place you’ll be able to shut your eyes for a second (with out worry of tripping) and hearken to the wind flowing by the bushes, birds chirping, squirrely chattering and critters rustling among the many leaves.



Indicators all through the Forest Park Nature Heart path system in Peoria Heights assist hikers navigate the 7½ miles of trails.




Park maps describe the listening factors as “a spot of quiet the place the world will be contemplated with awe.”

The steeper trails are a part of the attraction for Brandon Ludolph, a Peoria-area hiker who hits the paths at Forest Park a minimum of as soon as a month and who I met alongside an uphill portion of the Wilderness Path.

“I like going climbing out west within the Colorado mountains,” he mentioned. “I really feel this space right here is the closest factor I can get to being out in Colorado. … Lots of good, difficult hills right here.”

The paths are open each day from daybreak to nightfall, however a particular occasion from 6 to eight:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday (Dec. 10 and 11) provides you the distinctive alternative to hike after darkish alongside a flat path lit by luminarias.

The free occasion is a part of the Vacation Store and Stroll. Nature-themed presents can be available for purchase within the Nature Heart constructing.

The Nature Artwork Present continues by Dec. 30 throughout regular enterprise hours on the nature middle constructing, 9 a.m. to five p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.

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