Waterfall Glen Loop

Darien, Illinois

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The Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve is a thick green ring around the federal Argonne National Laboratory, the largest research facility in the Midwest and once a key part of the covert Manhattan Project during World War II, which was devoted to creating the atomic bomb. Limestone from these woods was quarried to build the iconic Chicago Water Tower and Pumping Station in the late nineteenth century, and a few decades later the Lincoln Park Commission used some of the area’s topsoil to create Chicago’s Lincoln Park. But the surrounding oak-maple forests and prairies are no less fascinating. Legendary among locals for sightings of ghostly white deer, Waterfall Glen’s 2,500 acres might be too much to experience in one visit unless you’ve got a surplus of energy. But even if you aren’t up for the entire 9.6-mile Main Trail, use this description as a guide to which stretches you might find the most interesting: In short, the northern half is mostly a shady hardwood forest pocked with swamps and marshes, while the southern half is covered with vast savannas and prairies, along with a model airplane field, a scenic overlook, and the Sawmill Creek waterfall that lends the area its name.

Waterfall Glen Loop Professional Review and Guide

"The Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve is a thick green ring around the federal Argonne National Laboratory, the largest research facility in the Midwest and once a key part of the covert Manhattan Project during World War II, which was devoted to creating the atomic bomb. Limestone from these woods was quarried to build the iconic Chicago Water Tower and Pumping Station in the late nineteenth century, and a few decades later the Lincoln Park Commission used some of the area’s topsoil to create Chicago’s Lincoln Park. But the surrounding oak-maple forests and prairies are no less fascinating. Legendary among locals for sightings of ghostly white deer, Waterfall Glen’s 2,500 acres might be too much to experience in one visit unless you’ve got a surplus of energy. But even if you aren’t up for the entire 9.6-mile Main Trail, use this description as a guide to which stretches you might find the most interesting: In short, the northern half is mostly a shady hardwood forest pocked with swamps and marshes, while the southern half is covered with vast savannas and prairies, along with a model airplane field, a scenic overlook, and the Sawmill Creek waterfall that lends the area its name."

Activity Type: Cross-Country Skiing, Hiking, Horseback Riding
Nearby City: Darien
Distance: 9.6
Trail Type: Loop/Lollipop
Skill Level: Moderate
Duration: 5 hours
Season: Year-round
Local Contacts: Waterfall Glen County Forest Preserve
Local Maps: USGS: Romeoville, IL
Driving Directions: Directions to Waterfall Glen Loop

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May 2018