Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Cache River State Natural Area
After several days of traveling we were anxious to get out and hike, rain or no rain. Creeks are swollen here in Marion, Illinois and water puddles surround our door. It is the first time that we have had to place boards beyond the door so we can step onto dry ground. We were also concerned about hiking paths being under water, and despite all our fears we had a great day Monday. It was a bit cloudy and overcast, but fields of bright yellow and white wildflowers certainly made up for that gloominess. The flowers are a type of field daisy, it is too early in the year for goldenrod.
Despite many efforts to convert the land around this area into cropland, there is land within this natural area which the state has managed to hold onto. It is one of the few "natural communities" remaining in Illinois, according to information from a park brochure. By 1950 5,300 acres of this forested swampland had disappeared, but most fortunately 242 acres of this land was relatively undisturbed. Consequently this park has eleven state champion trees, only native Illinois trees are considered for Big Tree designation. Some of these champion trees are estimated to be about 1,000 years old.