It's officially winter here in the stateline.

We were very fortunate to get through December with very mild temperatures. I even wore shorts on Christmas. It was awesome. I know some were dismayed by the lack of a "white" Christmas, but I'm fine with putting it off as long as possible.

As long as possible lasted until about January 1st of this year when we got a first major snowstorm and our first dose of frigid temperatures. Winter's bill had finally come due and we pay for it by being very uncomfortable and possibly mildly depressed for about 6 weeks.

January stinks. Then we'll get one or two nice days around Valentine's Day before second winter shows up. We generally ignore second winter, it's a very stubborn Midwestern trait, and are just perpetually cold until spring shows up.

What I'm saying is this is going to be a tough month and a half coming up. You can attack it two ways. You can never go outside and be angry for 6 weeks OR you can go out and enjoy the "unique" season of winter that we experience here in the Midwest.

I'll be honest. I've usually fallen in the former camp. I don't like the cold and hate being damp but I've also been kind of depressed for approximately 35 consecutive winters. I think I'll try something new this year and try to enjoy the beautiful scenery that a freshly fallen winter snow can provide.

It just so happens that we have a WONDERFUL spot right here in town to such activities at Rock Cut State Park.

The website Alltrails.com highlights 5 trails at Rock Cut that are open year round. So grab some nice boots, layer up, don't forget the sunglasses, and embrace the Midwestern beauty that is freshly fallen snow at one of the best state parks in Illinois on one of these 5 trails in Rock Cut State Park.

1. Rock Cut Park Main Loop

Alltrails.com
Alltrails.com
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This 3.2 mile loop has mild elevation changes and is a great easy hike that you can knock out in a few hours with some great views along Pierce Lake.

2. Pierce Lake Trail

Joe Dredge
Joe Dredge
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This 3.6 mile loop is a little more difficult than the main loop but offers great views of every side of Pierce Lake. I've done this hike during the summer and the terrain can get difficult at spots. Make sure you're wearing good shoes.

3. Rock Cut Perimeter Loop

Alltrails.com
Alltrails.com
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This is a long 9.2 mile loop that goes all around the perimeter of the park. Some of the trails are lightly traveled so it might be treacherous during the winter months. Again, dress accordingly.

4. Willow Creek Trail

Alltrails.com
Alltrails.com
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This 5.2 trail isn't a loop, so unless you have 2 cars, one to leave at one end and drive to the other, this is actually a 10+ mile hike if you go end to end and back again. Alltrails doesn't suggest hiking this one during deep snow so take that into consideration.

5. Perryville Path

Alltrails.com
Alltrails.com
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I will admit that this is a little bit of a stretch to call this a Rock Cut trail. It does start in the park, but most of the 13 miles of this trail runs along Perryville road all the way south to about State Street. This is a nice trail but not exactly what I think about when I think of hiking through the woods.

Dress well, and you'll have an enjoyable afternoon in this frigid hellscape we call home.

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Every beach town has its share of pluses and minuses, which got us thinking about what makes a beach town the best one to live in. To find out, Stacker consulted data from WalletHub, released June 17, 2020, that compares U.S. beach towns. Ratings are based on six categories: affordability, weather, safety, economy, education and health, and quality of life. The cities ranged in population from 10,000 to 150,000, but they had to have at least one local beach listed on TripAdvisor. Read the full methodology here. From those rankings, we selected the top 50. Readers who live in California and Florida will be unsurprised to learn that many of towns featured here are in one of those two states.

Keep reading to see if your favorite beach town made the cut.

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