I’ve written about Hidden Lake previously, as it was the second Trail Running Project outing. Long one of my favorite Du Page Forest Preserves, this is a location with unmapped trails, which branch off of each other, criss-cross at times, and guarantee the feeling of being lost (as well as actually being lost).
To complete a run for the virtual Freeze Your Thorns Off 5K hosted by Adam, I returned to the preserve by running from my house on streets, discovering a “back door” I was unaware of, and then reveling in fresh powder covering the trails. A hilly, twisting set of trails keeps things interesting, while the wildness of the preserve is balanced by the occasional man-made structure, such as fences and entry gates.
|The “back door” off of Finley Ave|
There was enough snow to make the forest look pristine, enough ice under the powder to keep things interesting, and a complete lack of non-animal footprints to make me feel very alone in the wilderness.
I ran a sort of out and back loop from one end to another, and, while there were times I definitely did not know where I was, using the angle of the sun and a feeling of where I was in relation to the perimeter kept me on virgin powder for the vast majority of time spent on these trails.
While I saw only one, very large squirrel, animal tracks were in abundance, including a large dog-like track (coyote?) large cat-like track (?), deer hoofprints, bunny hops, as well as bird and smaller, unidentifiable tracks. To cap off the nature show, 2 or 3 (or the same multiple times) large owls flew overhead.
|Stone gates off of Butterfield Road|
Hidden Lake is located just off a major expressway and next to the Morton Arboretum. Well-worth visiting, it offers both a gentle, family-friendly loop around two lakes on a crushed gravel path along with the twisting, technical singletrack found in the undeveloped section of the preserve.
Other nearby trails: Waterfall Glen, Danada Forest Preserve, Sag Valley, Waterfall Glen again, Herrick Lake and Danada, Greene Valley, McDowell Grove, Blackwell (winter), Greene Valley (winter), Illinois Prairie Path, Palos Forest Preserve, Waterfall Glen (winter).