Illinois’s parks and forests offer varied opportunities for outdoor recreation. Many miles of abandoned railroad right-of-way, both urban and rural, have become improved hiking and biking trails. Sandy beaches along Lake Michigan provide attractions for swimming and other water-oriented sports. The state’s long, cold winters and abundant snow in its northern sections make winter sports such as ice skating and skiing popular.
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th United States president, is honored throughout Illinois with parks, memorials, and other sites. The state’s automobile license plates even proclaim Illinois as the Land of Lincoln. The Lincoln Heritage Trail, established in 1963, joins many of these sites. Stretching 1,598 km (993 mi), the trail traces the path followed by the Lincoln family from Kentucky, through Indiana, and into Illinois. Included among the Lincoln sites is the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, the only home America’s Civil War president ever owned. His residence for 17 years, the home contains many period pieces owned at one time by the Lincoln family.
Lincoln’s Springfield home is the sole Illinois site under the administration of the National Park Service. The service does, however, have an oversight interest in both the Illinois and Michigan National Heritage Corridor, which encompasses the former canal route between Chicago and LaSalle-Peru, and in the Chicago Portage National Historic Site, which marks (in suburban Lyons) the approximate place where early travelers portaged their light watercraft between the Great Lakes and Mississippi drainage basins.
Shawnee National Forest, the only national forest in the state, covers 109,000 hectares (270,000 acres) of wooded hill country in southernmost Illinois. Within the forest are facilities for picnicking, camping, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, boating, and swimming. The five state forests all offer hiking opportunities, and four provide camping facilities. "Illinois" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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