60 Hikes within 60 Miles-Chicago-4th Edition  by Ted Villaire

60 Hikes within 60 Miles-Chicago-4th Edition Guide Book

by Ted Villaire (Menasha Ridge Press)
60 Hikes within 60 Miles-Chicago-4th Edition  by Ted Villaire
Each hike description features key at-a-glance information on distance, difficulty, scenery, traffic, hiking time, and more, so you can quickly and easily learn about each trail. Detailed directions, GPS-based trail maps, and elevation profiles help to ensure that you know where you are and where you’re going. Tips on nearby activities further enhance your enjoyment of every outing.

© 2018 Ted Villaire/Menasha Ridge Press. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "60 Hikes within 60 Miles-Chicago-4th Edition" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 60.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 60.

After a ramble along the shore of the Dead River, this trail brings you through some of the only sand dunes left in the state of Illinois. Halfway through the hike, take a break on a surprisingly quiet stretch of Lake Michigan beach. Dogs prohibited on the beach and in the nature preserve; must be leashed on trails. From the parking lot, with the restrooms behind you and the visitor center back to your right, look for the Dead River Trail, which heads right (southwest) near the far end of the lot.
Zion, IL - Birding,Hiking,Walking - Trail Length: 2.1
The most pristine landscape at Blackwell Forest Preserve is in the vicinity of McKee Marsh, an expansive wetland cradled in prairie and savanna. While hiking the gently rolling terrain around the marsh, you’re likely to see herons, egrets, bluebirds, and bobolinks. Other parts of this hike run through thick stands of oak, hickory, and elm and across the rocky-bottomed Springbrook Creek. When finished hiking, visitors may consider renting a canoe, climbing Mount Hoy, enjoying one of the park’s great picnicking spots, or trying additional hiking options to the east and west.
Warrenville, IL - Birding,Hiking,Walking - Trail Length: 6.3
Hiking around Wolf Lake, the centerpiece of Bong State Recreation Area, offers a pleasantly varied experience. The terrain on one side of the lake is flat or lightly rolling tree-speckled prairie, while the other side gives you dense woods, steep hills, and plunging ravines. Facilities include a campground, picnic areas, a beach, boat launch, and a visitor center. Pick up a park map from the entrance station. Hiking is not allowed on this trail when there is enough snow on the ground for cross-country skiing.
Kansasville, WI - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking - Trail Length: 3.7
At Bristol Woods, hikers will enjoy the pleasantly rolling terrain covered in bottomland forest and oak woodland. Tree connoisseurs will enjoy the many oak specimens of considerable size, as well as a rare Native American trail-marker tree. Starting the hike behind the Pringle Nature Center, you’ll immediately come upon a tree with a strange crescent-shaped trunk. This 200-year-old oak is one of the last American Indian trail-marker trees in Kenosha County.
Bristol, WI - Hiking,Walking - Trail Length: 2.6
Located on a bluff overlooking the Illinois River, this small but charming park is home to an enormous outdoor sculpture. Mounds representing five different creatures invite visitors to walk around and explore this engaging homage to an old Native American practice. Though it’s more than 60 miles from Chicago, I’ve included this hike for the cultural interest. Dogs must be leashed. Wear long pants if you intend to explore the mounds. Few paths exist on the mounds, and the grass grows several feet high. Kids will enjoy seeing the park’s two American bison.
Ottawa, IL - Hiking,Walking - Trail Length: 2.5
Chain O’ Lakes is full of natural treasures. The riches within the eastern section of the 6,023-acre park include expansive wetlands, gently rolling prairies, pleasant wooded areas, and a peaceful stretch of the Fox River—all accessed by a well-designed trail system. While there are numerous places to start this hike, I recommend dropping in at the section near the park office—the office is easy to find and provides sweeping views of the prairie, savanna, woods, wetland, and the Fox River in the distance. Once you find the trail on the east side of the parking lot, take it to the right for a counterclockwise hike, saving the majority of the secluded areas and the river for the last leg.
Spring Grove, IL - Hiking,Walking - Trail Length: 7
If you love to see carefully selected flowers, trees, and bushes growing in perfectly landscaped environments, the Chicago Botanic Garden is a slice of heaven. While the interior gardens are justifiably the main attraction here, many visitors miss the additional gardens, the prairie and woodland, and the striking views that accompany a walk through the outer perimeter of the garden, highlighted on this hike. Most of the hike is accessible; the parts that aren’t—Mary Mix McDonald Woods, Evening Island, and Marsh Island—are easily skipped. Pets prohibited but service animals welcome.
Glencoe, IL - Birding,Hiking,Walking - Trail Length: 2.7
Situated among the rolling hills of far northwest Cook County, Crabtree Nature Center is a place that invites you to linger while admiring wildflowers, spotting waterfowl, and relishing the rapid shifts from prairie to woodland to wetland. From the parking lot, follow the paved path to the back of the nature center. At the trail board, stay to the right (northeast) as the trail skirts the edge of Sulky Pond (formerly a sulky track sunken in the ground). The oaks hanging out over the water, the lightly wooded island, and the geese and ducks make this pond an enjoyable spot. Dogs are prohibited at Crabtree, as is picnicking.
Barrington Hills, IL - Birding,Hiking,Walking - Trail Length: 2.5
Nestled in an unlikely spot between subdivisions and I-88, Danada Forest Preserve offers some terrific hiking through wide-open prairies and gently sloping savannas. Once a training ground for top racehorses, Danada still caters to equestrians with an array of programs. Dogs must be on leash no longer than 10 feet. To learn about programs offered by the Danada Equestrian Center, call 630-668-6012 or visit danada.info
Wheaton, IL - Birding,Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Horseback Riding,Walking - Trail Length: 5
This hike takes you along the edge of the Deep River as it meanders through a large, diverse hardwood forest. At some point during your visit, stop in at the gristmill that was first built next to the river in 1837. At the entrance to Deep River County Park sits an old church that now serves as the park’s visitor center and gift shop. Built in 1904, the inside of this former church now looks like an old-fashioned general store, with jars of candies and preserves, wooden toys, maple syrup, handcrafted items, and various souvenirs stacked high up on shelves. After picking up a map and perhaps a few pieces of hard candy for the hike, take a walk next door to the brick gristmill.
Hobart, IN - Hiking,Walking - Trail Length: 2.9
The rolling landscape at Deer Grove is blanketed with thick groves of oak, hickory, and maple. Mixed in with the dense forest are ravines, marshes, ponds, and the occasional stream straddled by picturesque old limestone bridges. Dogs must be leashed. If you’re visiting after a rain, plan on getting some mud on your shoes. During summer, bring mosquito repellent. In winter, Deer Grove is popular with cross-country skiers.
Barrington Woods, IL - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Walking - Trail Length: 5.6
Nearly every step of this trail closely traces the tree-covered banks of the Des Plaines River while wending its way north through a series of forest preserves in Cook County. As you follow a small bluff, you’re treated to nearly continuous views of the river as it flows through bottomland woods sprinkled with big specimens of maple, cottonwood, and oak. Dogs must be leashed. Plan on getting some mud on your shoes, especially after a rain. During summer, bring mosquito repellent. This is more of an urban hike, so expect plenty of other trail users and traffic sounds from nearby streets.
River Grove, IL - Hiking - Trail Length: 11.4
If you like riparian landscapes, you’ll love the Des Plaines River Trail as it winds alongside tree-laden riverbanks, through dense bottomland woods, alongside ponds, and over footbridges spanning the river. There are also quiet oak savannas and many acres of tallgrass prairie thick with goldenrod, asters, and big bluestem prairie grass. Dogs must be leashed. Trail junctions are well marked, indicating access points and the Des Plaines River Trail heading north and south.
Mettawa, IL - Hiking,Walking - Trail Length: 9.5
As one of the best birding spots in Kane County, Dick Young Forest Preserve possesses a great mix of wetlands, prairie, and woodland. In addition to this hike around Nelson Lake, you can add 6 or so miles to the hike by hitting some of the trails that run through the enormous prairie in the western half of the preserve. Dogs must be leashed and cleaned up after. Bring binoculars to see the abundant birdlife around the lake and in the marshy areas, and to get a better view of the oodles of muskrat huts sprinkled throughout the lake if you visit during the colder months.
Batavia, IL - Birding,Hiking,Walking - Trail Length: 3.6
Note: Most of Fort Sheridan, including the area that contains the hike described, is closed for improvements until the summer of 2019 ; call the preserve or check lcfpd.org/preserves/improvement-projects for updates. This hike offers a lot to enjoy in a compact area: deep wooded ravines, the historic grounds of Fort Sheridan, a sandy Lake Michigan shoreline, wetlands teeming with birds, open prairie, and to top it all off, another shoreline preserve a stone’s throw to the south.
Lake Forest, IL - Birding,Hiking,Walking - Trail Length: 1.7
You may be surprised to find this much natural beauty just 20 miles from the Loop. Nearly this entire hike accompanies Salt Creek as it meanders next to a bluff and winds around a couple of islands on its way to the historic watermill at the south tip of the park. Nestled against the communities of Hinsdale, La Grange, and Oak Brook, the 222 acres of Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve have been a popular spot since they opened to the public in 1920. While visitors have always been drawn to the creek and its environs, more recently the historic mill and Nature Education Center have served as added attractions.
Oak Brook, IL - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Walking - Trail Length: 3.25
It’s easy to see why so many wealthy Chicagoans built their opulent mansions on the shore of Geneva Lake (the lake is called Geneva Lake; the town is called Lake Geneva) during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The views from the wooded bluffs along this silvery lake are fantastic. While enjoying the lake and the historic estates on this hike, you’ll encounter flower gardens, carefully landscaped lawns, boathouses, and pleasant little towns. This hike is farther than 60 miles from Chicago, but the breathtaking scenery makes it worthy of inclusion. No bicycles on the trail; dogs must be leashed and picked up after. Hiking in late fall, winter, and early spring will require navigating your way around the many docks that are stacked up in homeowners’ yards.
Lake Geneva, WI - Hiking - Trail Length: 10
While hiking the trails of Glacial Park Conservation Area, you’ll glide through open prairies, meander beside a lovely creek, and bound over hills that undulate like ocean waves. The star attraction, though, is a collection of curious mounds left by a receding glacier. Dogs must be on leash no longer than 10 feet. Park opens to cross-country skiing in winter. Enjoy picnic areas, restrooms, water, a sledding hill, canoe launch, and exhibits showcasing the natural environment at Lost Valley Visitor Center.
Ringwood, IL - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Walking - Trail Length: 5
If you arrive early, you’ll likely have these rolling hills, open grasslands, wooded ravines, and winding creek all to yourself. This delightful forest preserve remains undiscovered by people outside of the immediate area. Dogs must be leashed. In winter, the hill serves as a premier sledding destination. The Plum Creek Nature Center at Goodenow has exhibits that kids will enjoy.
Beecher, IL - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.9
While making your way through this hypnotic tallgrass prairie, you’ll skirt the edges of several marshes and ponds active with birds. For those interested in improving their prairie-plant identification skills, this hike showcases a variety of grasses and flowers, as well as some interpretive signs to get you started. Near the end of the hike, the trail passes a reconstructed version of one of the earliest log homes in the county. Before you start the hike behind the visitor center, take in the view from the observation platform attached to the back of the building. If it’s July, the prairie will be exploding with wildflowers of all shades; if it’s September, goldenrod and compass plants will form a yellow carpet over the landscape.
Morris, IL - Birding,Hiking,Walking - Trail Length: 2.4