Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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Nature Bulletin No. 69   June 8, 1946
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Clayton F. Smith, President
Roberts Mann, Superintendent of Conservation

Vacation time is here. Many people, particularly boys, are planning overnight camping trips. The big questions are: "Where can I go? " and "What should I carry?.

IT IS NOT PERMISSIBLE TO CAMP ANYWHERE IN THE FOREST PRESERVES except in the few established group-camping centers for children. It is not permissible in the preserves, to carry a handaxe or to cut any standing tree or even a sapling -- whether alive or dead. It is necessary to receive permission from the owner before hiking or camping on farms or other private property. Those are the rules.

The towpath of the old Illinois and Michigan Canal offers one of the best routes for long hikes and overnight camping. It is controlled by the Illinois Division of Waterways and no permission is required. Completed in 1846 and abandoned in the 80's, the canal was developed by CCC as a state parkway from Willow Springs to Romeo, and from Channahon to LaSalle, with shelters and camping spots at intervals. The scenery is beautiful. There is good fishing at many locations. The canal itself is ideal for canoeing from Channahon to Marseilles. The only drawback is that you must carry your drinking water or obtain it from adjacent private property.

There are many towns along the route, accessible by bus and railroad. There is a state park at Channahon, Gebhard State Park at Morris, Illini State Park at Marseilles, and state parks at Buffalo Rock and Starved Rock between Ottawa and LaSalle.

TRAVEL LIGHT! Don't spoil your fun by carrying a huge pack. One blanket is enough. Beside that, all you need is warm clothing, stout shoes, a raincoat, a few sandwiches, some fruit or candy bars, maybe some coffee, matches, a pocket knife and a little money. Sleep on the ground. Make your bed of leaves, grass and old newspapers. Build a small fire and keep it going all night.

Get cold? Possibly you will. And the ground will get awfully hard before morning. You'll get mosquito bites and maybe a few chiggers. So what? That's camping. You'll get up at daybreak, hear the birds begin to chirp and sing, build up the fire, eat breakfast, and be proud of yourself. You have pioneered.

Observe these precautions: Be sure your fire is "black out" and cold before you leave. Kill it with water and loose dirt or sand. Bury your garbage. Obliterate all traces of your fire and camp. Leave the place appearing as if you had never been there. That' s the mark of the true woodsman and the test of good outdoor manners.

Talk to folks as you go along. Most people, especially country people, are neighborly. Say "Howdy" to everyone you meet. Don't be ashamed to ask questions. Be courteous. Be friendly.

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