A cold front found its way across us last night, causing both the air temperature and humidity to plummet into the excellent for hiking range – sunny, clear, cool, and bug-free! 😎 Still working off our (delicious) excesses 🍦 at the State Fair’s Dairy Building, we looked around for some longer, more caloric hike possibilities. This led us to Lake Rebecca Park Reserve out west near Rockford.
With Lake Rebecca in mind, we considered Hike #47 in our 60 Hikes guide. At 6.5 miles (10.4 km) this walk was long enough but was described as all on paved surfaces. Frankly, walking on asphalt didn’t appeal. But the park’s online map indicated a dirt hiker/horse trail that roughly paralleled the paved route around Lake Rebecca. And it was a slightly longer route too. And it would allow us to avoid becoming entangled in the maze of singletrack mountain biking trails just west of the lake. And so we drove west to fulfill our destiny as hikers… 🙄
We ended up parking at the Mountain Bike Trailhead because we could easily access the perimeter hiking trail from there (and, to be honest, because it has two vault toilets). Folks must be making a last run to the North Shore for this holiday weekend because there were only about a dozen other cars at the trailhead and we passed only a handful of hikers, bikers, and horse riders on the trail.
From the parking lot, we went south on a dirt hiker only trail to the paved trail and then went west on that until we could connect with the dirt hiker/horse trail. Two horse riders passed us along here. We stayed on this trail until it intersected the paved trail on the east side of Kasma Marsh.
We diverted back on to the paved trail just past Kasma Marsh in hopes of accessing the south end of Lake Rebecca – only to find impenetrable stands of cattails. So the irony of our loop at Lake Rebecca is that we got only minimal views of the lake itself – at least from its southern and eastern side. 🤨 If we’d had the presence of mind to go a ways north on East Rebecca Lake Road we might have gotten a closer look at the east side of the lake.
After sorta seeing the lake, we went back on to the dirt trail and followed it – stopping for a snack at the Don Myron Rest Area – all the way around to where it crosses the main park entrance road. From there, we followed the road back to the Mountain Bike Trailhead.
Our hybrid dirt/paved route came to 8.0 miles (12.8 km) with 500 feet (152 m) of cumulative elevation gain across this rolling terrain. It proved to be a very good, long rolling walk through forest and prairie. We didn’t see much of Lake Rebecca from the trail – but might have if we’d thought about East Rebecca Lake Road in time. And it could have been an even longer walk if we’d done the loop around Sarah Creek too.
Later in the hike, if we’d been on the paved trail around the north side of the lake, it would have taken us past the amenities there – including two fishing piers with good views of the lake. We later learned that the dirt hiking trail connects with the paved trail via the maintenance facility service road in this area (this connection isn’t obvious on most maps). Well, maybe next time.
From the park, we drove into nearby Rockford and had lunch at The Brothers Eatery – a neat, clean establishment with good food at reasonable prices. 🍔😋👍