Midwest Trail: Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

My weekend long run took me to the trails of Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve. Consisting of a nearly 10 mile loop, it also features some smaller trails used as shortcuts or scenic destination routes. Groomed for cross-country skiing, the trail is smooth, gently winding, and wide enough for 3-4 people to run abreast (insert joke here). Somewhat hilly, with plenty of shade, the loop serves up a variety of scenes, from wooded hills to more open prairie vistas.
Typical trail section

One of the best things, as noted above, is the ever-changing scenery. Sections of the trail cross wetlands, streams and pass along lakes. There are abandoned structures in varying states of collapse. The trail is used by runners, cyclists, equestrians, walkers, and cross-country skiers, year-round. I saw a group of them rolling on the trails using short skis with wheels, pretty neat contraptions.

Lake amongst the trees

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve serves as a defensive buffer for the Argonne National Laboratory. Argonne National Laboratory applies a unique mix of world-class user facilities and leading scientific and engineering staff to develop innovative solutions to the grand challenges of our time: plentiful and safe energy, a healthy environment, economic competitiveness and a secure nation. Four major core capabilities support Argonne’s R+D programs: hard X-ray sciences, fundamental science, applied science and engineering, and leadership computing.

Advanced Photon Source provides the brightest storage ring-generated x-ray beams in the Western Hemisphere

Waterfall Glen is also the setting for the Xtreme 10, a race whose motto is “10 Miles of Challenging Trails, HEAT, PAIN and GLORY.” Held in July, the race directors clearly have a sense of humor.

Two ways to cross a stream

One of the most amazing features is a deep ravine that appears about halfway through the loop. See picture below, though it doesn’t do justice to how deep and startling it actually is. It actually reminds me of some of the areas of the lower southern San Juan Mountains in Colorado. So glad we have this in the metropolitan Chicago area.

REI also holds their Orienteering 101 classes on a dedicated course here at Waterfall Glen.

Other nearby trails: Waterfall Glen, Danada Forest Preserve, Sag Valley, Palos Forest Preserve, Herrick Lake and Danada, Greene Valley, McDowell Grove, Blackwell (winter), Greene Valley (winter), Illinois Prairie Path, Hidden Lake (winter), Waterfall Glen (winter).

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