What do you do when everything is shut down and there is nowhere to go? You go hiking over the hills and through the woods, that’s what you do.

With playgrounds, skateparks, businesses, and just about everything else shut down during this pandemic we had to go elsewhere to keep from getting cabin fever and that elsewhere was the various parks that were still open that had hiking options available… and apparently, just about everyone else had that idea too. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

We went everywhere that we could and a few places we weren’t suppose to visit, but I won’t list those. It is such a major accomplishment when you knock out a trail. Especially when the kids come along with us. They are great hikers and love finding and identifying rocks, plants, and other things found out in the woods. We have been using the app All Trails to find cool spots to hike and explore and we have been using the app Seek to help us identify plants along the way.

We also have started taking grocery bags with us and picking up liter that we find on the trails as well. It is astonishing how much trash people will just leave on a trail. Did you really think taking a 32 ounce styrofoam cup with you on a 3 mile hike was a good idea? Apparently so, which is why we are now cleaning up after you.

Read up on the 7 principles of the Leave No Trace project. It is a great resource and helpful guide on how best to mind your manners while out exploring.

So where have we gone? Well, all over. We want to explore more, so if you have a recommendation please share in a comment or reach out on social media. Here is a list of just a few of the trails we have checked out this year.

Loutre River Trail
Saint Stanislaus Trail
Connors Cave
Spring Brook Trail Loop via Devil’s Icebox Trail
Castlewood Loop
Old Chain of Rocks Bridge
Fort Bellefontaine Loop Trail
River Scene Trail Loop
Spring Branch Trail
Wildflower Trail
Mina Sauk Falls Trail
Rock Quarry Trail
Hogsback Trail
Trail Among Trees
Klondike Park Katy Trail
Elephant Rock State Park

Like I mentioned, we started to use the app All Trails this year to keep track of the trails we have rocked. It is a handy app that gives you some nice GPS data and other information about the trail you are on. It’s not a bad tool to have when you are out there in the wilderness. It also helps keep track of other cool stats over the lifetime of using the app. I kind of wish we started using it sooner as I think my stats would be much higher had I did.

All in all hiking has become one of our families go to activities. We just love getting outdoors and exploring the world around us. I have some video and photos from some of these hikes that I hope to put together at some point, but most importantly with all that is going on, getting out and getting back to nature this year has been a perfect way to be mindful and balance yourself.

Stay tuned for a future post where I share what I have in my hiking bag and why my wife thinks it is way too heavy!

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By Richie

I'm a 40-year-old father blessed with two wonderful children: a 13-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son. My life revolves around my beautiful wife, who is the cornerstone of our family. Without her unwavering support, none of what I do would be possible. By day, I serve as a network administrator for a local school district, ensuring smooth operations in the realm of technology. During the evenings, you'll often find me engrossed in various creative pursuits, from illustrating books to crafting websites or composing music. But above all, my priority is spending quality time with my kids. Parenthood has been a profound journey of growth and discovery for me, and now, armed with a keyboard instead of a pen, I'm eager to share my experiences and insights with others.

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