Pere Marquette State Park

We wanted to take advantage of  what may be the last perfect fall day this year. Ben took the day off and we took the boys to Pere Marquette State Park.

The drive alone was pretty. We drove through Alton and then stopped at the Grafton Visitor's Center. There's a tiny museum with a few neat, old things in it.


We ate a quick lunch nearby and then drove on to the park.

On the way to the park is the historical marker where Marquette and Joliet landed in the 1670s.


We stopped in at the Visitor's Center. Grafton is a well-known eagle-viewing location in the winter months so their museum had a good bit on that topic, as well as a large nest the boys could crowd into.

[caption id="attachment_2383" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Eaglets Eaglets[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2384" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Hungry eaglets Hungry eaglets[/caption]

We grabbed a map and then drove along the Scenic Road.

PM-Lookout PM-Lookout2

After looping back around, we stopped in at the little church to look around and snap pictures.

[caption id="attachment_2387" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Hartford Methodist Episcopal Church est. 1876 Hartford Methodist Episcopal Church est. 1876[/caption]


Finally, back at the Visitor's Center, we parked and started out hike. I'd looked online to try and determine which trails were best, but really couldn't find anything. We took a shot in the dark and chose Goat's Cliff and it payed off.

We found these guys right off. I should have taken a picture of them in one of the boy's hands because they are huge!

[caption id="attachment_2388" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Burr Oak Acorns Burr Oak Acorns[/caption]

We didn't have to go far when a large rock formation came into site directly in front of us. This trail is along a fault line so there are lots of neat rocks and caves to view and climb on.

[caption id="attachment_2392" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Large Rocks Large Rocks[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2390" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Explorer Gabe Explorer Gabe[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_2391" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Artsy shot just because Artsy shot just because[/caption]

Next, we came upon this cluster of rocks that looks like a throne. Both boys were sure to sit on it!

[caption id="attachment_2395" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Luke on his rock throne Luke on his rock throne[/caption]

Further down was a narrow rock ledge.

[caption id="attachment_2396" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Tilting rock wall Tilting rock wall[/caption]

Further still were some bluffs with caves in them. They were off the beaten path, up a steep incline.

[caption id="attachment_2393" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Caves Caves[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2394" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Exploring the cave Exploring the cave[/caption]

Poor Luke actually slipped and slid partially down the hill! It's hard to see here, but it was extremely steep, poor guy.

After a bit, we saw another large group of boulder. From the other way, as you come up to the rocks, you can't see where the path is. It looks like it dead ends into the large rock on the right there.

Not that we need any excuse to climb the rocks!

[caption id="attachment_2400" align="aligncenter" width="200"]The hidden path The hidden path[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2397" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Gabe on the hidden path Gabe on the hidden path[/caption]

Goat Cliff trail is rated "moderate difficulty" and it's true. It's not for wimps or whiners! It was a great workout.

Luckily, it's also gorgeous so it's well worth it!

[caption id="attachment_2398" align="aligncenter" width="300"]The golden path The golden path[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_2401" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Into the woods miniature effect Into the Woods miniature effect[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2402" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Into the Woods toy effect Into the Woods toy effect[/caption]

The path steepened and then, all of the sudden, we were at the top of McAdams Peak!

[caption id="attachment_2403" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Goat Cliff overlook Goat Cliff overlook[/caption]

From there, we took Ridge trail. They say "What comes up, must come down" and that was pretty much Ridge trail summed up. It came down all right. It was quite the incline. We really had to pay attention so we didn't slip and fall.

Ridge trail is also very narrow with brush and trees reaching out for you on both sides. It was an interesting change from the wide trails of Goat Cliff. Luckily, it was over quickly. We were soon on Dogwood and then soon after that we were back where we had parked. I think it took us 3ish hours to complete the 2.25 mile loop.

We popped in at the lodge before we left. It looked really nice. I'd love to go back and stay some time and walk a few other trails.

I also found this tucked away:

[caption id="attachment_2404" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Pere-Marquette Hi cake![/caption]

It had been a long, exhausting, perfect, amazing day.

[caption id="attachment_2405" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Log house by Trails Log house by Trails[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2406" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Perfect fall day Perfect fall day[/caption]


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