Friday, November 21, 2008

Dixon Springs State Park

We made two visits this fall to Dixon Springs State Park which is located within Shawnee National Forest. I will do a longer post on Shawnee National Forest but will only mention that most of Southern Illinois is a well kept secret and is topographically quite distinct from the rest of the rather bland state. The park is on a large block of rock (Caseyville Sandstone) that has fallen 200 feet along a fault line. The resulting boulder formations make for some beautiful scenery as well as providing plenty of climbing challenges.

A moss and fern embanked creek meanders through the moist and boulder strewn valley. It is fed by a spring which runs throughout all seasons. At the head of the spring, there is an artisan well that is commonly frequented by locals for drinking water. The park has several hiking trails that follow the ridge and valley. The woods are dominated by various species of oak, maple, beech, pine, sycamore, sweet gum, cedar, and several species of hickory including my favorite - the shagbark hickory. The hickory nuts were quite plentiful this year and there were numerous signs of squirrels feeding on the nuts.

I am always amazed at the great lengths a tree will go to establish itself in very inhospitable conditions. This sizable sycamore apparently finds plenty of water and nutrients within the cracks and crevices of this rock formation.

No comments: