Shabbona Lake State Park: Birds of a Feather

Our July’s have been very busy for as long as we have known each other, so after a few weeks of solo vacations and family get-togethers, we were able to resume hiking at the end of July with a visit to Shabbona Lake State Park. The day we went was sunny and beautiful, and we could not have been more excited to hike around the man-made lake.

The park is named after Chief Shabbona, a member of either the Ottawa or the Potawatomi and an accomplished warrior during the War of 1812 who lived near what today is Will County or Kankakee county. He also has a lot of other things named after him; from a town in Michigan, to a park close to our own neighborhood.

Shabbona Lake State Park is only an hour and a half away from us on the northwest side of Chicago, so we were able to get started with our hike a bit earlier and avoid the late July heat. We decided to hike the Somonauk Point and Arrowhead Loop trail, as the full loop around the lake was a bit out of our skill level.

The loop starts by just walking along the lake. There were plenty of purple wildflowers here to take photos of. I could have left happy just doing that, but we were only getting started.

The path eventually veers back to a sidewalk, where we encountered some Canadian geese blocking our path. Gingerly going around the geese, we eventually found the proper start to the trail. This first section also runs along the lake, but the area is more forested than any other. Eventually, the path turns grassy and goes through fields of even more wildflowers, but it is not long before it turns back into a dirt path.

The payoff for this trip was getting up a little bit higher into a clearing overlooking a small section of the lake. This part is farther away from the boat launch and where people usually go, overgrown with lily pads and other aquatic plants, and even more geese. We’re no stranger to geese being around, but the number of them in this park was something we kept coming back to.

Looking closer, we noticed a couple of blue herons on the lake as well. One was standing alone, pretty far in the distance on the other side of the water, but one was standing among the geese relatively close to us.

After passing a small pond with just one goose, the remainder of the hike ran along the road. At this point, it was getting pretty hot out, and we were relived to finish up.

We headed for Waterman Winery in Waterman, IL. This is a small family business, centered on the farm that has been in their family for generations, raising livestock and growing different crops, including tomatoes for Campbell’s soup at one point. Now the family is focusing on grapes and winemaking, producing wines across the spectrum from dry to sweet to fruit-forward. We were able to do a tasting in the barn. Aside from wine, they had also started growing popcorn, which they could pop right off the cob. Stephanie loves popcorn, so this was right up her alley.

We would absolutely recommend giving Shabbona Lake State Park a visit. Between the lake, the easy hiking, and the other activities available, on a nice day everyone will be able to find something to do here. All the wildflowers and birds make for a very scenic hike.

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