So Close, Yet So Far Away

As part of my training to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise money for pediatric cancer research, I’m on the lookout for new places to hike. Considering we’re practically at sea level and in the flatlands, finding suitable spots can be difficult. But it’s not impossible. Sunday my family and I hiked up and down Starved Rock. It’s a beautiful place with enough stairs to test anyone’s endurance, but it’s also about an hour and a half outside of Chicago. Fortunately, there are closer alternatives.


Waterfall Glen is a quick 30 minute drive from downtown Chicago, but it feels like it’s halfway across the state. The 2,470 acre forest preserve surrounds Argonne National Laboratory, encircling it with a 9.6 mile length of trail suitable for walkers, cyclists, and horses.


My good friend Teresa Hill and I headed there Tuesday and pulled off of I-55 onto Cass Road. We were immediately astonished at the change in landscape. We’d gone from noisy dirty urban to clean green rural in the time it takes to drive down an off-ramp. We parked at the trailhead and followed the path to the waterfall area.


The majority of the 2.9 mile stretch we took was a wide and flat limestone path, but as we got close to the waterfall an offshoot took us onto a narrow dirt path that wove through the forest and took us past fallen trees, enormous wild mushrooms, and along a shallow brook until we reached the waterfall itself. This is not a natural phenonmenon, but was actually built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The preserve isn’t even named after the spot. Seymour “Bud” Waterfall was an early president of the District’s Board of Commissioners and the preserve was named after him.


There are many other areas of the preserve that we did not get to explore, including Poverty Prairie, Poverty Savanna, and the Old Lincoln Park Nursery. I’ve got a lot of training to do, so I’ll be back!


Take a “virtual hike” with these pictures of Waterfall Glen:



Please also consider donating for pediatric cancer research!


Waterfall Glen, Cass Avenue, South of I-55, Darien, Il






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