Plenty on tap in Mount Morris

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Come to the Mt. Morris Campus at 16 S. Wesley on Sunday, Aug. 29, the last day of Straw Fest,

from 12:30-4:30 p.m.

Visit the Concierge Desk at the flagpole for details about campus activities

and maps to area sites. Enjoy straw sculptures, the Sandstone Art Gallery’s “Radical Botanicals,”

scavenger hunts for children, music, and presentations about campus history, people, and

architecture. Admission is free. Donations appreciated.

Most events are outdoors, some self-directed, all are free, geographically distanced, and can be reached in the safety of your family’s own car. Tours extend from Grand Detour to rural Mt. Morris. At Grand Detour, explore the old Upper Ferry Landing near the bridge. Watch the Rock River begin its U-turn. Visit the John Deere Historic Site (8334 S. Clinton Street), open from 1-5 p.m., featuring Deere’s blacksmith shop, a docent lead tour of his home, a blacksmith at work, and walk-through prairie plot.

In rural Mt. Morris, proceed to Bald Hill Prairie Preserve (5502 N. Silver Creek Road). View stunning vistas. See the biggest tree in Illinois. The prairie, at times with steep terrain, is open all day. Hiking trails are well marked. Bring picnics. The Education Superintendent of the Byron Forest Preserve, which owns

and maintains the prairie, will be on site from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. He will provide presentations about

the prairie habitat, wildlife, and the Big Tree, an Eastern Cottonwood and true “Radical Botanical.”

The Agriculture Tour in our northern corridor along Mt. Morris Road includes maple trees, pure maple syrup products, and the Sugar House at Hough’s Maple Lane Farm (3788 N. Mt. Morris Road). Attend the opening weekend of BerryView Orchard (7504 W. Midtown Road, Mt. Morris), buy or pick aronia berries right off the vine, walk through the apple trees and eat cider donuts. The farm and orchard are both open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

The Parks and Geology Tour in our southern corridor begins in Mt. Morris on Lowell Park Road and winds south through rolling countryside to White Pines Forest State Park (6712 W. Pines Road, Mt. Morris). Fish, hike in pine forests, picnic near Pine Creek as it sculpts dolomite cliffs, or drive one at a time through fast moving fords. White Pines Lodge serves Sunday brunch from 8-11:30 a.m. and from the menu starting at 11:30 a.m. and ending at 8 p.m. Reservations at 815-655-2400.

Climb through the treetops and scale Castle Rock, a 200-foot butte of St. Peter Sandstone, rarely exposed in all Illinois. The observation deck provides a panoramic view of the cliffs, river, and rolling landscape of the Rock River Hill Country. Walk out over wetlands or hike with the wildlife. Explore some of the more than 2,000 acres at Castle Rock State Park (1365 W. Castle Road, Oregon, Il.)

Seek its remote charms. Tour the Lloyd Dietrich Memorial Habitat on Ridge Road, or the Castle Rock Wetlands and George B. Fell Nature Preserve, both on Route 2 near the towering rock.

These days, people need time from cities and streets. Come tour our country, the Rock River Hills.  Visit our campus, 200 feet up from the river below. Spend Sunday with us, or visit our neighbors on backroads, in parks, and the prairies nearby. Our vistas are nature’s, your journey your own.

This of Pine Creek that was taken by Jeff Bold.