Trail Running Project: Hidden Lake Forest Preserve

Singletrack trails are not shown on map, but exist in green-gray area in upper right


Hidden Lake Forest Preserve, Downers Grove, IL, is located next door to the Morton Arboretum (in Lisle,IL). The main path that encircles two of the park’s lakes, is a crushed limestone trail, flat and, while attractive, nothing to write home about. Step off that path however and a different world awaits you.

Main trail, which appears as line in upper right of map above

Running along a grassy path and over a hill, it is possible to enter the wooded section located in the Northeast corner of the preserve. This area is bisected by the main gravel and path seen above. Radiating  off that main path are innumerable loops and side trails, none marked and sometimes hard to follow. It is an ideal place to get lost, as it is bordered on one side by the Arboretum (fence), another by the main preserve path and lake, one by Butterfield Road, and the last by a corporate office park. No matter how lost, eventually you pop out at one of these borders and can reorient yourself.

Sunday, Tzaer and I continued our Trail Running Project by visiting this to complete our second trail run. It has been awhile since I’d run here and was amazed at how much the paths had been overgrown, with trails blocked by fallen trees. Happily, Teo and I both wore sweats, due to the cooler temps, but now useful as burr collectors and a protective skin.

Round Meadow Lake, not Hidden Lake. Hidden Lake is, well, hidden.

We charged along blithely, jumping over logs, ducking under branches, and generally enjoying our romp in the woods. The trails here are quite diverse, with only rock or stone not being represented. Otherwise grass, dirt, gravel, stone, and roots all make their presence known.

Of course we got lost and, no matter how many times it has happened to me before, there is still the slight panic. Running into the back of an office building gave us a general idea of where we were, so we headed west, back towards the car and safety. Even though I’ve run here many times before, the overgrown trails and newly fallen trees made me doubt myself and it took several attempts to find the correct side trail leading out.

What Tazer had to say:

Today’s run was pretty good. We ran for 29 minutes and 31 seconds. And then we got lost. But it was still something I would recommend doing. During our run I felt almost like an ant since every thing was over my head. I guess we ran about 2 or 3 miles, not including the walking. Today was a just about perfect running day. Trail running is something that will help you a lot because it works your balance muscles, because you trip a lot and you have to rebalance yourself. Trail running is a well balanced workout for everyone.

Kind of an interesting sidebar. The statues above stand outside the Chicago Board of Trade building in downtown Chicago. I walk by them each day to and from the train. Here’s what the plaque between them says (in part):

These two statues one symbolizing agriculture and the other industry once stood at the main entrance of the Board of Trade Building built in 1885. The statues greeted commodity traders and the public for 45 years. Thought lost forever when the buildings were demolished in 1929 to make way for the exchange’s current Art Deco structure in 2005, the statues were graciously returned to their origins through the generosity and goodwill of DuPage County Forest Preserve District. These statues were uncovered from the Hidden Lake Forest Preserve.
Nearby destinations:

7 thoughts on “Trail Running Project: Hidden Lake Forest Preserve

  1. could you comment on how far these places are from where you live, and if there are any traffic considerations for you – my wife and need to drive a few hours in traffic on the weekends to get out into “interesting” wilderness and sometimes the journey is so nerve wracking we decide to hand out in town next time.

  2. Andrew, all the forest preserves I run in are in our county or neighboring counties, so they are anywhere from 5 – 45 minutes from home. I usually run early, so traffic generally is not a big factor.

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