2 years ago

This hike is described and mapped in detail in Ted Villaire's "60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Chicago" (http://www.tedvillaire.com/grand-kankakee-marsh-county-park-hike/), which I recommend taking a look at before heading out here, since the park is crisscrossed with hunting access tracks that can leave you confused about where to turn. From a hiker's perspective, this little-known park is notable primarily for offering the longest hike along the Kankakee River in Indiana. Since the Kankakee River (and bordering Kankakee Marsh) was dredged, straightened, ditched and drained throughout its Indiana course a century ago for agricultural purposes, this is not a pristine wilderness experience; still, conservation has to start somewhere, and it's great that Lake County has reclaimed (and, where possible, restored) this stretch of the river and marsh for locals to hike, hunt and fish. The hike itself is on a flat track heading out east along the river's north bank, then looping back in a barbell shape through wooded marshland to return to its starting point at the visitor center parking lot on the west side of Range Line Rd. (aka Clay St., N 600 E), just north of the river. Be prepared for a few sandy stretches as well as muddy spots, and wear mosquito repellent. There's decent birding in the marsh, and lots of turtles sunning on the river.