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Morel Mushroom Hunt at Eagle Ridge Resort

We had eaten morels for an appetizer, we had our place settings decorated with wood carved morels, we enjoyed a four course morel themed dinner, and now it was time to hit the woods to experience how these tasty delicacies are harvested.  Eagle Ridge Resort packed us into a van and dropped us off on the side of the road at the edge of a forest and the Morel Mushroom Hunt was on.

Morel Mushroom Hunt Galena

Beautiful day to enter the Galena woods for the Third Annual Morel Mushroom Hunt

Related: Eagle Ridge Morel Mushroom dinner

Related: Pre-Mother’s Day morel hunt at Eagle Ridge Resort

This was not my first morel mushroom hunt. I barely remember going on several outings in Indiana where my aunt lived near Purdue in the small town of Attica. I do not remember having any success, so I hoped to change that at Eagle Ridge Resort near Galena, Illinois.

Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa

Eagle Ridge Resort was the scene of the Morel Mushroom Hunt

There have not been a whole lot of nice days this spring to enjoy going outside. When there has been one, it has usually been followed by several rainy cold days in a row. We lucked out today as it was partly sunny and fair with temperatures hovering around 60 degrees. A perfect day for wandering outside looking for elusive morel mushrooms.

Thunder Bay Falls

Thunder Bay Falls spillway below Lake Galena

First stop was Thunder Bay Falls. This is actually a spillway that drains Lake Galena. The water was gushing over the rocks in picturesque fashion. It was a nice prelude to the hunt and soon we were back in the van heading to our destination.

Let the Third Annual Morel Mushroom Hunt begin

We stopped at the edge of the road and were let loose into the woods. At first I followed close behind Chef Randy. It would seem he would have a nose for this being the chef who was sautéing them the night before. After about ten minutes of finding nothing, I headed for higher ground. This turned out to be a mistake.

Morel mushroom

On top of the hill looking down toward the road – Most of the action took place near the road

It was drier up on the hill and no one was wandering up here. I thought less people would pay off even though they advised us not to climb the hill. Sometimes though the unorthodox pays off. Not this time. I found nothing but the wrong fungi up here. For awhile, I was on the notta morel hunt.

Mushrooms

It seemed like a notta morel mushroom hunt at first

I came down off the hill and found my mom. She had found one morel. This was a game changer. The momentum had swung from the forest into my favor. If my mom could find one, then I would find one. A glimmer of hope coursed through my veins.

Eagle Ridge morel hunt

Mom showing us how it is done at the Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa Third Annual Morel Mushroom Hunt

There was one morel someone had found that they left untouched for us to take pictures. I did a staged photo of myself picking it, but the photo below is a fake. Not that I have anything against faking it for a photo op, but I did want to find my very own morel. This is like someone else catching a fish for you and then handing you the rod for the photo. I hoped that I would soon find my morel.

Morel mushroom hunt

Staged morel mushroom hunt shot – I would find my own

I circled back up to higher ground and for fifteen minutes foraged again without luck. This was again my mistake. I should have studied the ground where I fake picked the morel. I would have noticed it was somewhat damp – unlike the ground where I was concentrating.

Sadly, it was time to leave, and I remained shut out. On a positive note, they were going to have another morel inspired lunch to send us home with. Despite not finding my own morel, I was satisfied with the trip. I really enjoyed the area around Galena and would definitely return.

I happened to look down on the way back to the van, just before the clearing where the road and van was. I was not going to give up the morel hunt until I was completely out of the woods. Then I saw it. I looked down and saw a beautiful spongy morel popping up in a grassy area just as I was about to emerge from the woods. This was like catching a fish on the last cast.

Two morels

I did not see the second morel at the bottom of this picture until I was taking this picture

I bent down to take a picture with my iPhone. When looking at my screen taking the picture, I noticed a second morel was only a foot away. My morel intake just doubled. This area must have been walked over several times by other members of our group, but the morel blends in well with the forest floor, so you have to look closely.

Although I am far from a morel expert, I do feel I learned quite a bit in an hour of searching for them. The two mistakes I made was I went to a higher and drier ground. Another mistake I think I made was I covered more ground by walking fast and searching as I walked. It is better to walk slowly and really comb the ground with your eyes.

Morel Mushroom Hunt Eagle Ridge

Success on the Morel Mushroom Hunt at Eagle Ridge with four morels in the mesh bag

Here are some morel hunting tips:

    • Be careful of ticks and use bug spray and long sleeve shirt and pants to protect (unlike me who wore shorts)
    • When someone finds one, study the kind of terrain it was found in and look for similar conditions
    • Walk slowly and look carefully on the ground and double check areas that look promising
    • Carry a walking stick – They are great for prodding vegetation in order to find hidden morels
    • Best time to look is late April or early May depending on the weather
    • Carry a mesh bag for the harvest

The best part of the morel experience is we got to take a few home with us. There is nothing like foraging for your own fresh food just like there is nothing quite like catching fish and having a shore lunch.

Morel mushrooms

The real sign of a successful morel mushroom hunt is frying them up at home

I want to thank Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa for inviting me to the Third Annual Morel Media Hunt.  Although food and lodging were complimentary, my thoughts, photographs, video, and my newfound love of more mushroom hunting are purely my own.

Adventure on!

The goal of Traveling Ted is to inspire people to outdoor adventure travel and then provide tips on where and how to go. If you liked this post then sign up for the email newsletter. Notifications are sent out once or twice a month with what is new with Traveling Ted’s adventures. There is no spam and email information will not be shared. Other e-follow options include Facebook (click on the like box to the right) or twitter (click on the pretty bird on the rainbow above).

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4 Responses to Morel Mushroom Hunt at Eagle Ridge Resort

  1. Francesca May 19, 2016 at 5:36 pm #

    Another tip: DON’T LOSE YOUR BAG OF MORELS!

    Still so sad about that. But, I am so glad that we got to experience this fun event together!
    Francesca recently posted..A Storybook Inn: Comfortable luxury in Central Kentucky

    • Traveling Ted May 19, 2016 at 6:18 pm #

      I think that lost bag of morels will sink into the ground and will sprout oodles of mesh bags filled with morel mushrooms. Next year we will find them in abundance. Thanks for planting the seeds of next year’s success.

  2. Shawn Michaels January 7, 2017 at 9:53 am #

    Wow! such an amazing post. I love the location. Such a fun you guys had. Moreover, love mushrooms a lot. I will be looking forward to your next fun experience blog. Great work.

    • Traveling Ted January 7, 2017 at 4:41 pm #

      Thanks Shawn,

      I am definitely a mushroom fan too.

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