Chicago

MAN-MADE PINNACLES crowd the lakefront skyline, but every so often Second City inhabitants need to see nature's peaks. And if too many late-night dogs at Wiener's Circle have left your body nitrate-saturated, detox with a ramble to the rolling hinterland.

Wicked vista: Devil's Lake State Park, Wisconsin.     Photo: Ryan-Beyer/Stone

The Adrenaline Rush

DIVE DOWN to 75 feet in temperatures that can fluctuate wildly, from 40 to 70 degrees, to explore the Prins Willem V off Milwaukee. Thanks to Lake Michigan's salt-free water, the 258-foot Dutch freighter is in pristine shape, except for the 20-foot gash that sank it in 1954 ($50 for a one-dive trip, $80 for two dives, with Pirate's Cove Diving, 414-482-1430).

THE HYPERACTIVE WEEKEND
ON FRIDAY afternoon your derriere is nestled into leather, cruising 190 miles west on I-90 toward a campsite in Tower Hill State Park, three miles south of Spring Green, Wisconsin (tent sites, $9-$11; vehicle pass, $10 per day; 608-588-2116, www.wiparks.net). Pull up to your oak-shaded pad and snuggle in for the night.

Saturday morning, carbo-load tofu chilaquiles and home fries at the Spring Green Café and General Store, a five-minute drive up Wisconsin 23. Then grab your bike and pedal a half-mile to the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center, starting point for the Frank Lloyd Wright Tour, a 20-mile-loop road ride that winds over velvety green-gold hills on farm roads (for directions, order a copy of the Wisconsin Biking Guide, free; 800-432-8747). Later, drive Wisconsin 23 north to Bob's Riverside Resort (canoe rental, $20; shuttle, $26; 888-844-2206, www.bobsriverside.com) for a 15-mile paddle down the Lower Wisconsin. Pull out in Gotham and take Bob's shuttle back to your car. Pack up and drive south on Wisconsin 23 about 15 miles to Governor Dodge State Park to pitch a tent at Cox Hollow Campground (tent sites, $10-$13; 888-947-2757, www.wiparks.net). Hike until the sun sets along the 8.1-mile Lost Canyon Trail.

Sunday: Hop on your fat-tire beast for a workout at the Governor Dodge knobbydrome. Warm up on 3.3-mile Mill Creek Loop singletrack, then link with 6.8-mile Meadow Valley Trail doubletrack, hammering through grass meadows and up sandstone bluffs. Next, drive north up Wisconsin 23, head east on U.S. 14, and take a right on South Valley Road (35 miles total) to fish for wild browns from Black Earth Creek (guiding and instruction by Madison Outfitters, $175 per half-day; 608-833-1359, www.wisconsindrifters.com). Once you've snagged your third box elder, it's time to go. Replenish caffeine reserves at the Lunch Bucket Café in Black Earth on your way west along U.S. 14, then north on Wisconsin 78. It's just 26 miles to tendon-popping fun on more than 1,500 climbs over red-purple quartzite at Devil's Lake State Park (vehicle pass, $10 per day; 608-356-8301). Hit the East Bluff's west-facing climbs to catch the last rays before hitting the citybound lanes of I-90.
THE NEW, NEW THING
IN NOVEMBER 2001, LaPorte County, Indiana, finished mapping and signing 400-plus miles of backroads cycling routes. It's easy to connect the 20 color-coded loops (from 12 to 33 miles) or hook up with routes in neighboring Berrien County, Michigan. On the 27-mile Heston loop you'll pump past apple and peach orchards and horse farms. Head west to camp at one of 25 walk-in sites at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore's Dunewood Campground (sites, $10; 219-926-7561, www.nps.gov/indu). For maps, contact the LaPorte County Convention and Visitors Bureau (800-634-2650, www.harborcountry-in.org).

THE CLASSIC
BEST NATURAL PHENOMENON: the sandhill crane migration at Indiana's Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area, about 90 miles southeast of Chicago (219-843-4841, www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/pubs/cranes.htm). Up to 15,000 cranes stage on the marshy fields; the numbers peak in late October.

THE RECHARGE SPOT
JUST 90 MILES SOFT of the Loop, circled by 32 acres of Illinois corn and soybeans, is The Heartland Spa, a retreat with zero attitude. In the barn, soak in the whirlpool, work out, or balance your chakras with a hot-basalt and cold-marble-stone massage. After a tough day of tai chi, yoga, and meditation classes, claim a sofa for napping in the Quiet Room. Mountain bikes are also available to tool around Gilman's stick-straight farm roads (doubles, $920 per weekend; 800-545-4853, www.heartlandspa.com).

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