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Waterfall Glen – Review

Trail heading west from the southeast scenic overlook.

It’s a big circle going round a laboratory. You don’t get to see the lab much—it’s hidden in the thick forest which includes a healthy strand of tamaracks planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It was the CCC that also first built the waterfall at the top of Rocky Glen.

That waterfall was repaired a few years ago by boy scouts and remains one of the more popular features at Waterfall Glen. Named after a trustee with the unlikely moniker of “Waterfall,” this preserve uses 2,689 acres to surround Argonne National Laboratory along the shores of the Des Plaines River.

The main trail of this preserve is an 9 mile long circular route with a screened limestone surface. The area is hilly for Chicagoland and has several large steep hills by local standards. A large part of the trail passes through mature forests, including areas in which non native plants were removed. A large section of the trail passes through a nice section of preserved tallgrass prairie.

It’s also a very popular preserve—on weekends it can be hard to find parking. Parking lots at all three entrances—on the north, east and west sides of the preserve have been observed at capacity parking. The trail can seem somewhat busy due to it’s multi use nature.

Forest Preserve regulations prohibit riding on trails that are less then 8 feet wide. A whole series of trails that are primarily used as pathways for fire control can also be accessed on mountain bikes, though the surface trails are often wet or boggy.

Near the edge of the prairie in the southeast corner of the preserve is a pond that gives some great views of wetland ecology visible from the trail. Unfortunately during wetter seasons the pond floods out a portion of the trail. There is a nearby railroad embankment that can be used to bypass the flooded area.

The northern half of the loop trail also serves as part of the Southeast DuPage Trail, marked as the ‘Waterfall Spur.’ The Southeast DuPage Trail continues west from the parking lot located on the west side of the preserve at Lemont Road.

Directions: Stevenson Highway south to Route 83 South to Bluff Road west.

A map of this forest preserve can be found here.

Danada Forest Preserve – Review

Danada Forest Preserve is a large forest preserve located in western DuPage County. It comprises of 805 acres on several large tracts of land south of Wheaton, an area that was formerly part of the Rice farm. It’s main feature is an equestrian center.

Parking in the main lot off of Naperville road was plentiful. In addition to trail access, the parking lot serves the equestrian center, where one can visit or arrange lessons. There are many horses on site, and something called the Danada visitor’s garden, a feature recently completed.

There are a series of nature trails located near the Equestrian center. They consist of crushed limestone, and often slightly narrow as they wind through an oak forest in a series of loops. Horseback riding is prohibited, though bicycling is not. There trails are not long and are best traveled by foot.

There is an access point for a regional trail within Danada. On the west side, near the intersection of Leask Lane and Butterfield Road, a major trailhead exists. Heading eastward, the trail skirts Rice lake before going through some woods to the Equestrian Center. Unfortunately, the trail is not clearly marked through the equestrian center, and several alternate routes present themselves before crossing Naperville Road in an underpass.

West of Naperville Road, the trail passes through Heroes Grove, a living monument to the victims of 9/11, and into a large expanse of tallgrass prairie. The trail continues west, and becomes part of a loop that extends throughout the western side of the Forest Preserve while overlooking several prairie marshes. The regional trail continues northwest until it enters Herrick Lake Forest Preserve. There, it skirts Herrick Pond on the west side before following Butterfield Road west on a dedicated path to the Aurora Branch of the Prairie Path.

Trails are given classic names, and the looping trial is identified by color coded markers. At several points there are spurs to preserve exits. One located on the south side provides convenient access to Naperville.

Trail conditions as of date are pretty good, with solid screened limestone surfaces in excellent condition. There is fresh water available at the Danada visitor’s center.

Additional information, including a map to the forest preserve can be found on here.

Bicycle Safety

I came across this page a few weeks ago via Metafilter. It’s one of the best and most comprehensive guides to urban bike riding safety.

Bicycle Safety: How to Not Get Hit by Cars

This link has been added to the Link Page.

History, part 1.

Northeastern Illinois has been a major hub of transportation and manufacturing for the past two hundred years. The land is suitable for urban development—Large flat fields of prairie punctuated by winding rivers and streams.

The first generation of travelers used the rivers as roads. The broad flat rivers sped them on their urgent trade missions, and the isthmus west of the city proved to be an important portage. Not content with the waterways, this generation dug canals and built dams to make them more efficient conveyances. Soon water became a cheap way to move industrial goods, and the network was expanded so that barges can travel to an ocean over a thousand miles away.

The next generation brought roads. They followed early trails, and turned them into roads. Soon they began to build roads lined with harder materials: stone, wood … and then steel. Soon railways crossed the land. Not to be left behind, roads were changed into highways, rebuilt over the decades to meet the needs of a growing population. These remain today as the roads and highways that surround the region.

The industrial society that spawned the growth of this network also gave birth to a new generation—one that understood the importance of leisure as a component of modern life. First
manifesting itself in the 1920s, it was expanded greatly by the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. As the needs of the people changed, paths were constructed for recreational purposes. Combined with the conversion of railroad beds to trails, the use of utility right of ways and current waterways, it has created a scenic and complex network.