13605
Illinois
Hike, Bike, Paddle & Ride: A Shawnee National Forest Adventure
Discover the Shawnee National Forest by canoe, foot, horseback and bike as you enjoy expert-led excursions, spot wildlife and gather ‘round the campfire to learn the region’s story.
Program No. 13605RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
699
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 4 L 5 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Ozark, IL
D
St. Noel Center at Camp Ondessonk

Afternoon: Ondessonk Guides will be available to greet participants and help you move into your rooms. Please feel free to go for a stroll around the main area of Camp, wander over to the pastures to view the horses, or enjoy the patio of St. Noel to get to know your guides and fellow adventure companions for the week. In the Welcome Circle, take an opportunity to introduce yourself, where you’re from and how you found yourself to be here at Camp Ondessonk with us. Your Ondessonk guides will lead you on a small guided tour of the main area of Camp. Take a sneak peak of Camp Ondessonk's Road Scholar programs on YouTube. www.youtube.com/user/CampOndessonk#p/u/15/HxnSmmv-6aU. Just copy and paste the link in your browser.

Dinner: Dinner served family-style in the St. Noel Center dining area.

Evening: We will sit down to frame the week, share with the group in more detail the lay-out of the week’s activities, get to know each other, and set our goals/expectations for your experience.

DAY
2
Shawnee National Forest, Hiking & Illinois Biodiversity
Ozark, IL
B,L,D
St. Noel Center at Camp Ondessonk

Breakfast: Breakfast will be served family-style in the St. Noel retreat center's dining area. A warm start to a great day!

Morning: Our first day on trail will be spent hiking on Camp Ondessonk's trail systems, giving you a taste of the geological formations that make Southern Illinois such a hidden gem. The morning will see us experiencing the East side of our property, visiting the highest free-falling water fall in the state of Illinois and exploring some of the intriguing sandstone formations unique to this area.

Lunch: We will be hiking to a picnic-style lunch served in the out-of-doors under a pavilion overlooking one of our many small lakes. A great way to recharge our energy before hitting the trail once more.

Afternoon: Once back on trail, we will head towards an ox-bow lake surrounding a sandstone monolith, once the site of a Native American stone fort from the Woodland Indian period. We will also visit Phantom's Canyon; one of Ondessonk's crown jewels and largely unknown even to Southern Illinois residents. Upon returning to the St. Noel Center, there will be some down time to clean up and an opportunity to visit with fellow participants before dinner is served.

Dinner: Dinner served family-style in the St. Noel Center dining area.

Evening: Enjoy a presentation from an expert naturalist who will reveal why Southern Illinois is unique on several different levels. From inland seas to that vast glaciation of ice ages past, several prehistoric occurrences impacted and shaped the geology of this area. Learn how this geology, and the convergence of several different natural divisions, allows for the astonishing plant and animal combinations found in this area. Cacti growing within a hundred feet of a moist oak-hickory forest? Southern cypress swamps in Illinois? Join us after dinner to find out more!

DAY
3
Horse Sense 101, Horseback Trail Ride
Ozark, IL
B,L,D
St. Noel Center at Camp Ondessonk

Activity note: Participants will spend the day learning all about horses and then put their knowledge into practice on the trail

Breakfast: A warm breakfast served family-style in the St. Noel Center dining area.

Morning: Begin the day by assisting to feed our herd of over 70 horses! Our Equestrian Director will cover an overview of horse behavior, breeds, care, and other unmounted instruction. After the horse class sessions we will get in the saddle for some riding practice in the arena!

Lunch: Lunch served family-style in the St. Noel Center dining area.

Afternoon: After lunch we will get back in the saddle for an afternoon trail ride through our surrounding rolling pastures, oak-hickory forests, and rock-bottom creeks.

Dinner: Enjoy another delicious meal prepared fresh by our talented food-service director and served family style in the St. Noel Center Dining Area.

Evening: Sit around the campfire, roast marshmallows, or join us in exploring the enchanted nocturnal world with a night hike or astronomy lesson. Listen for the distant calls of coyotes echoing up the canyon systems you had been hiking through during the daylight hours. Listen to the Great-Horned Owls calling to their mates, or the Barred Owls squabbling over territory. See the stars like never before. Or just relax in the common area of St. Noel and enjoy a good card game with new friends as you recharge for tomorrow's adventure.

DAY
4
Kayak or Canoe on Lake Echon & Cache River Wetlands Area
Ozark, IL
B,L,D
St. Noel Center at Camp Ondessonk

Breakfast: A warm, hearty breakfast served family-style in the St. Noel Dining Area.

Morning: Spend the morning learning basic skills and gaining the knowledge to paddle on our boating lake, Lake Echon, by canoe or kayak. Travel to the Barkhausen Wetlands Center to learn about the incredible bio-diversity and natural and cultural history of the area.

Lunch: We will enjoy a picnic lunch either at the Wetlands Center or at a picnic area near where we will be paddling in the afternoon.

Afternoon: The Gulf Coastal Plain natural division makes its northern-most reach into the southern tip of Illinois offering a rare opportunity to see swamps more characteristic of Mississippi and Louisiana. The Lower Cache River Canoe Trail offers paddlers a quality paddling experience, 3 to 6 miles in length, through a magnificent swamp filled with cypress, tupelo, and buttonbush. The highlight of the trail is Illinois’ largest, and therefore state champion, bald cypress tree. Like many trees within the Cache River State Natural Area, it is more than 1,000 years old. Learn more about the area from a knowledgeable guide as you canoe or kayak through one of the Midwest's most unique landscapes.

Dinner: Enjoy a delicious Camp Ondessonk tradition! Our foil dinners will be prepared on a bed of hot coals. Burgers or chicken, fresh fixin's, and the works, all enjoyed in the fresh, crisp evening air.

Evening: Sit around the campfire, roast marshmallows, or join us in exploring the enchanted nocturnal world with a night hike or astronomy lesson. Listen for the distant calls of coyotes echoing up the canyon systems you had been hiking through during the daylight hours. Listen to the Great-Horned Owls calling to their mates, or the Barred Owls squabbling over territory. See the stars like never before. Or just relax in the common area of St. Noel and enjoy a good card game with new friends as you recharge for tomorrow's adventure.

DAY
5
Biking Tunnel Hill State Trail & Heron Pond Nature Preserve
Ozark, IL
B,L,D
St. Noel Center at Camp Ondessonk

Activity note: Biking about 17 miles (all down-grade, with breaks) on mountain bikes

Breakfast: A warm breakfast served family-style in the St. Noel Center dining area.

Morning: Today we'll embark on a day of bike riding. The bicycles are mountain/trail bikes. There will be some slight leaning over and our guides do a very good job of sizing everyone to the perfect bike. More upright, road style bikes can be acquired upon request. All rental fees are included in the price of this program. This morning we'll venture out on the Tunnel Hill State Trail, an abandoned railroad converted into a 50-mile walking and biking trail through Southern Illinois. We will enter the Tunnel Hill State Trail in the old village of Tunnel Hill where the trail gets its name. The tunnel goes straight through the hill and we will enjoy a roughly 9 mile (all down-grade) ride past lovely scenery and over an old train trestle to the lunch spot.

Lunch: We will enjoy a picnic lunch at a lovely city park in Vienna, IL (pronounced VAH'-ehn-ah) that is right on the trail.

Afternoon: After lunch we hit the bike trail for another 8 miles. We'll end at the Heron Pond State Nature Preserve where you can hop off your bike and continue on a short walk over an iron bridge spanning the Cache River to a floating boardwalk that winds through cypress and tupelo trees. See the state champion cherry bark oak tree, hike beneath ancient bald cypress trees. You may also choose to ride to the nearby winery for a taste of local wine. You and the bikes will be shuttled back to Camp from this point.

Dinner: A warm and hearty meal will be served family-style in the St. Noel Center's dining area.

Evening: An opportunity to reflect on time spent in the natural world, to share memories freshly made, and to recognize new trail companions who made the experience meaningful.

DAY
6
Wrap-up, Program Concludes
Ozark, IL
B

Breakfast: Breakfast served family-style in the St. Noel dining area.

Morning: After breakfast we'll wrap up with an opportunity to say your farewells to fellow participants and exchange email addresses to stay in touch if you so desire. If you're not staying an extra night, we will need to flip your rooms for our weekend guests, but if you're not in a hurry to get home, feel free to enjoy Camp for the rest of the day by going out on a hike on your own or ask us about other great things to do in Southern Illinois! "We have not ceased from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." -T.S. Eliot. Thank you for joining Camp Ondessonk on this journey through Illinois' hidden gem.






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