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Top Eight Hikes in Champaign County (plus Five More Nearby!)

By Hannah Brzozowski

One of my favorite past times is hiking. I think it's for a couple of reasons...One is that it costs a grand total of $0. The other reason is that I feel God's presence while out in nature. All throughout the Bible, the writers speak about our Creator and His creation. Rocks are used as an example of what the church will be built out of. Grass fading away can remind us of how fleeting life is. The beauty of the lily tells us how we can trust God with our basic needs. The mountains represent the strength of our God. The mustard seed is used to represent just how little faith can make a big difference.

The images are endless. One of the best ways to meditate on these images is to actually see them! However, since I live in Illinois, I can feel like there aren't enough mountains or rushing waters to visit.

That's why I wanted to write up this list. I've found quite a bit of trails in Champaign County and although none of them include mountains, I can guarantee that there is beauty to be discovered and moments with God that are waiting for you out on the trails. You just have to take some time to go and explore a bit.

*Special thanks to my dog, Mr. Albert, for being the model in most of these photos.

1. Homer Lake

He who made the Pleiades and Orion and changes deep darkness into morning, who also darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the Lord is His name. Amos 5:8

Distance: 3.6 miles

When I first went to Homer Lake, I was disappointed. It was muddy and we parked in the wrong parking lot. But once, I finally decided to give it another shot and explore a bit more, I was pleasantly surprised! There are trails throughout and picnic tables. Whenever I've gone, it's not busy. I've had many times with God here - whether it be sitting by the lake or worshipping out in the fields.

The only downside is that you can't walk the entire perimeter of the lake. I've made the mistake of thinking I could just keep walking through the bushes and I wouldn't recommend it (neither would my dog!).

If you're looking for a decent size body of water within 20 minutes of Champaign, this is a great option.

My favorite hike here.

2. Kaufman Lake

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. Luke 12:27

Length: 2.3 miles

Nestled right in Western Champaign is Kaufman Lake. Some will just walk around the lake and think that that's the end of the hike but it's not. There is a "secret" passageway under the interstate and under/across the railroad track. Once you get there, you'll see some local "art" or "graffiti" whatever you'd like to refer to it as. It's pretty cool if you ask me. The trail will then lead you to another pond to walk around.

If you're looking for peace and quiet, I wouldn't go here since it goes right under the interstate but it's pretty cool to walk underneath the overpass! I also collected a beautiful bouquet of wildflowers while here.

Here's the link to the hike!

3. Busey Wood

Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice. Psalm 96:12

Length: 1.3 miles

If you live in Urbana, why not check out Busey Wood, located right by the water park? Its boardwalks and long bridge to enter make it unique. There's a river that you can hike next to and lots of little paths but it's impossible to get lost since it's such a small area.

If you go here in the summer, make sure to bring mosquito repellent! There are a lot of wet areas so the mosquitos love it.

Want to check out Busey? Here's the link to the hike!

*FYI, dogs aren't technically allowed at Busey Wood.

4. Meadowbrook Park Trail

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:8

Length: 4.3 miles

Meadowbrook is located in Urbana and is a local favorite. With a playground, a paved walkway, and art sculptures, there are always people enjoying Meadowbrook. On a summer evening, you can even spot a whole family of deer that lives here. We once saw about twenty deer one evening!

Since I love dirt paths, I love the paths that go throughout the meadow. It feels like you're discovering something new every time you go. You can also take different routes on the paved paths as well.