Rebecca & Tom Stark
431 Cook Avenue
Jonesboro, IL 62952
|Hiking & Wine Tasting||Just Wine Tasting||Music in the Vineyards||Golfing||Exploring Area Antique & Novelty Shops|
|Biking the Tunnel Hill Trail||Exploring the Cache River Wetlands||Hiking the Bluffs of Giant City State Park||Horseback Riding the Shawnee National Forest||Learning to Rock Climb|
Hiking & Wine Tasting
There are twelve wineries along the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail which are best toured over a two or three day period in order enjoy the ambiance, locales and, of course, the wines of each. My favorite approach? To start each morning by visiting some of the natural wonders that Southern Illinois has to offer and then spend the afternoon touring the wineries.
Day 1 - The Pomona to Alto Trail
After enjoying a wonderful night's sleep at Hidden Lake, exploring area nature trails and sampling Southern Illinois wines is a great way to see the sites. And take a copy of the Wine Trail map that depicts not only the Vineyards and Wineries but also the hiking areas and other scenic stops. Be sure to flip a coin for a designated driver - or hire a limo! There are seven wineries to enjoy along the Pomona to Alto Trail!
More Hiking: Hiking trails are abundant in the State Forests of Southern Illinois. Others include: Giant City State Park on the Anna to Makanda Trail, Ferne Clyffe noted for its impressive rock formations including , a 150-foot-long shelter bluff, and a 100-foot intermittent waterfall; Trail of Tears used extensively by prehistoric Native Americans who were pushed south and west around 1803 as settlers of European descent entered; LaRue Pine Hills - noted for its scenic overlooks as well as its spring and fall snake migration!; Dixon Springs State Park and Garden of the Gods.
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Day 2 — The Anna to Makanda Trail
After enjoying another wonderful night's sleep at Hidden Lake, exploring area nature trails and sampling Southern Illinois wines is a great way to see the sites. And take a copy of the Wine Trail map that depicts not only the Vineyards and Wineries but also the hiking areas and other scenic stops.
More Hiking: Hiking trails are abundant in the State Forests of Southern Illinois. Others include: Little Grand Canyon on the Pomona to Alto Trail, Ferne Clyffe noted for its impressive rock formations including Hawk's Cave, a 150-foot-long shelter bluff, and a 100-foot intermittent waterfall; Trail of Tears used extensively by prehistoric Native Americans who were pushed south and west around 1803 as settlers of European descent entered; LaRue Pine Hills - noted for its scenic overlooks as well as its spring and fall snake migration!; Dixon Springs State Park and Garden of the Gods.
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Just Wine TastingIf you are just interested in touring the wineries and vineyards of Southernmost Illinois, there are certainly enough to keep you tasting for days. At present there are twelve wineries which make up the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail ... with more opening all the time.
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Rustle Hill Winery and Von Jakob Vineyard are now routinely featuring live music on the weekends. If you enjoy a little evening entertainment, Rustle Hill, open until 9 pm on Friday and Saturdays, kicks off their music at 6 pm on those days and at 3 pm on Sundays. Von Jakob, on the other hand, features an afternoon of music on Saturdays and Sundays from 2-5 pm.
Picture yourself relaxing over a glass of wine and enjoying a little music as you veg-out at the winery of your choice. Better yet, grab a group of friends ... is there anyone who wouldn't appreciate a beautiful setting, a great wine and good music? And don't forget to take along a Hidden Lake picnic.
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Interested in getting in some serious golfing practice on a variety of golf settings? Southernmost Illinois is the place to visit! Within 1 hour of Hidden Lake, and several within 30 minutes, are nine 18-hole golf courses offering a variety of challenges to golfers of all skill levels. All offer winter golf so extend your golf season - come enjoy our warmer temperatures and terrific golfing opportunities! After golfing, head out to visit some of the area wineries. Stone Creek Golf Course is within minutes of Owl Creek, Winghill and at bit further out, Blue Sky Winery.
Exploring Area Antique & Novelty Shops
If you love to explore antique and novelty shops, you'll love Southern Illinois. We usually recommend at least two days to visit them all and fortunately there is now a Shopping Trail map to help you find them! And the great news about the shopping along the wine trail is that you are never far from a cute restaurant if you'd like to grab a bite to eat or a winery if you'd like to relax over a glass of wine.
Begin your day in the Jonesboro Square at From the Heart Flowers & Gifts. Dianna always has great selection of candles and unique gift and/or holiday decorating items. And, just a hint, if you would like to surprise your significant other, From the Heart will deliver to Hidden Lake.
Then head east into Anna where you will find eight stores of interest: Enchanted Gardens Flowers & Gifts, Hunting Traditions, This N That Flea Market & Antiques, Isom's Antiques, Jim & Dot's Western Wear, Country Cupboard Cafe & Gift Shop, and Memory Lane Antiques. While you're at Isom's ask about their collection of Kirkpatrick Pottery. In the early 1900s, the manufacturing of Kirkpatrick Pottery was a big industry in Anna. Almost 2 million clay pipes were shipped to Europe in their heyday. The clay for Kirkpatrick pottery was mined at Kaolin Pond in Anna where a community of nearly 1700 once lived. Find a piece of Kirkpatrick pottery today and you will have discovered a true treasure. Most unusual are the Kirkpatrick pottery pigs - you'll never guess what they were used for! - and their infamous serpent vases, at least one of which is displayed in the Smithsonian. And if you're in the mood for a bite to eat while you're in Anna, the Brick House Grill, open Tuesday-Saturday, 4-9 and later, and the Country Cupboard, open Monday-Saturday, 11-2, serve up a tasty lunch and dinner on Friday from 4-8 pm.
Assuming that you still have some energy left, head up to the Makanda Boardwalk, a small collection of eclectic and very rustic shops just outside Giant City State Park whose owners pride themselves on their hippy origins. You'll find the Rainmakers Art Studio home to Dave Dardis, a talented coppersmith; Vision Art Studio which features the pottery work, paintings and more from numerous artists in the area; The Smelly Hippy featuring tye-die; and the Makanda Trading Company offering an international collection of items as well as Native Indian items.
Now take old Rt. 51 into Cobden and first stop at Flamm's Orchard (open May-November). In season, they will have lush, wonderful strawberries, golden ripe peaches, and crunchy apples. Better yet, they will also be serving up those fruits in the form of strawberry shortcakes, peach cobblers, and apple dumplings ... to name just a few. Once in Cobden, there are two antique stores to visit ... Ant Hill Antiques & Gifts and Wine Trail Antiques. And as long as you are there, stop in at visit the Cobden Museum. Okay, so not an antique shop but housing a lot of antiques none-the-less. The Cobden Museum is worth the stop. Pay particular attention to the Kirkpatrick Pottery on display. Also be sure to stop in at the Yellow Moon Café on Cobden's main street for a coffee or fountain creation.
Now move onto Alto Pass. There you will find the Root Beer Saloon. While serving root beer on draft and eclectic lunch menu, they also sell innumerable coffee, teas and spices. Oh, and did I mention that they also sell fudge? Or check out Hedman's Winery, Cafe & Scandinavian Gift Shop. Here you can browse items from Scandinavia while you sip a glass of wine and perhaps sit down for a bite as well. I hear that their Swedish meatballs melt in your mouth. Or wander up to Rendleman's Orchard & Farm Market (open July-November). In addition to having truly wonder peaches, Rendleman's Farm Market offers a tempting array of jams, jellies, salsas, mixes, and so much more. I never leave empty-handed!
Come visit Southern Illinois and enjoy Shopping Along the Wine Trail!
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Biking Tunnel Hill State Trail
Tunnel Hill State Trail offers bicyclists 45 of the most beautiful and peaceful miles in Illinois. The Trail stretches south from Harrisburg, through Vienna to Karnak, and includes a 2.5-milespur through the Cache River State Nature Area. Developed on a portion of the Norfolk Southern Railroad rail bed, the crushed gravel Tunnel Hill State Trail passes through flat farm country then into the hills of the Shawnee National Forest. After that it passes through wetlands, including cypress-tupelo swamps, and continues along meandering creeks and bluffs. The tunnel at Tunnel Hill, which has given the Trail its name, is one of the most fascinating features of the trail. Originally 800 feet long, the tunnel was shortened to 543 feet after a portion of the tunnel collapsed in 1929. There is an otherworldly sensation when entering such a long tunnel. One enters in full daylight, and there is always light at the end of the tunnel, but somewhere in the middle darkness and perspective merge. Bring your own bikes!
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Exploring the Cache River Wetlands
With an ecological status equal to that of the Florida Everglades and totaling 12,956 acres, exploration of the Cache River Wetlands is something not to be missed! And for those of you old enough to remember Harrison Ford fleeing US Marshall Sam Gerard through the swamps of Southern Illinois as Dr. Richard Kimble in the movie The Fugitive, you might even recognize some of the sights!
First stop? I would recommend the new Barkhausen Wetlands Center. This 6,500-square-foot wetlands center completed in 2004 provides a wealth of information on the importance of wetlands with new exhibits completed just this year as well as audio-visual presentations and viewing decks. Open Friday and Saturday, 8:30 to 4:30, the building itself is worth the stop!
Begin your morning by canoeing the Cache
River Wetlands. Surrounded by Cypress trees, bugs keep their distance
making this a truly enjoyable canoe trip. For those seeking a white-water rafting
experience, this is not it! The wetlands offer a very scenic, non-arduous experience
for the novice. Most of our guests take 2 1/2 to 3 hours for this wonderful excursion.
Of course, always exercise caution while in a canoe - tipping over into the wetlands
would not be a highlight. As you make your way through, keep your eyes open for
a view of the oldest Cypress tree east of the Mississippi. Nearby you'll find
an overlook and a short hiking trail on which to stretch your legs. As you canoe
the waterway, you're most likely to see a number of great blue heron as well
as a multitude of other birds.
Done canoeing or don't have a canoe? Explore on foot! There are 10 hiking trails from as little as 250 feet to the see a cypress tree over 1000 years old with a circumference of 40 feet to as long as 5.5 miles on the difficult Little Black Slough Trail. My favorite? The Heron Pond Boardwalk! This floating boardwalk takes you into a magical world unlike anything else in the Midwest, offering breathtaking views of cypress tress towering hundreds of feet into the skies. It's a short 1/2 mile walk from the parking lot to the boardwalk and well worth the effort. While you there be sure to check out the championship cherry bark oak tree. Over 25 feet in circumference, it's impressive enough to make the little extra walk worthwhile. But try several of the trails - you won't be disappointed in the unique beauty of the Cache River Wetlands.
While you're in the area, visit the Cache
River Basin Vineyard and Winery. Located in Belknap nearby to the
Heron Pond Boardwalk, Cache River Basin Winery can also provide a bite to eat in their new restaurant, Wineaux's, open Friday-Sunday. And before you head back, check out the Shawnee Winery Cooperative. Located just east of 'downtown' Vienna and north on Red Bud,
the Shawnee Winery Cooperative was formed to
create a market for small grape growers in the southern Illinois area. They
offer a nice selection of wines and their Tiffany's Gold was a recent award
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Hiking the Bluffs of Giant City State Park
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Horseback Riding the Shawnee National Forest
Do you love to horseback ride but hate the thought of plodding along a designated trail for 50 minutes behind a long line of other riders who were hoping for more than horses who would rather be back at the barn (and who can blame them!)? Well you're in luck! Here in Southern Illinois we are fortunate enough to have a wonderful stable where you can rent horses - real horses - the kind that like to trot, and gallop, and look forward to a ride as much as you!
Picture yourself riding through the orchards and forests of Southern Illinois selectively choosing an apple or a peach off a nearby tree as you mosey on by! Then stretch your legs by the side of a clear running creek as you stop to water the horses. Rides can range from 2 hours to a whole day and rates are very reasonable - 2 hours/$70-$75/person, 3-4 hours/$100/person. Reservations are limited so you have to plan ahead but it's well worth it!
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Learning to Rock Climb!
Looking for a little adventure? Looking for something to really talk about when asked about your last vacation? Learn to rock climb!
The hilly terrain and breathtaking bluffs of Southernmost Illinois offer perfect rock climbing conditions for the beginner as well as the experienced rock climber. For the beginner, sign-up for a 1/2 day or full day class designed to get you climbing within the first hour. Not to worry! You'll progress at your own pace starting with the smallest of hills and only moving on when you feel comfortable. You'll learn some of the climbing jargon to impress your friends, a bit about safety, and a lot about the technique of rock climbing.
Already have some experience? Kathy & Eric will help you pick up where you left off. Everything you need is supplied by Vertical Heartland. You just need to wear comfortable clothing, sneakers for the short walk to the bluffs, light weight socks to wear with your climbing shoes, lots of water, snacks, and plenty of film in your camera!
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