Saturday, August 22, 2015

Biking Waterfall Glen in DuPage County

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien is one of the most ecologically impressive areas within the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, created by the Wisconsin Glacier. It encompasses  2492 acres of ridges, bluffs, prairies, potholes, savannas, and oak-maple woodlands. It is home to 740 native species and over 300 species of birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. The trail encircles Argonne National Lab through rolling hillside terrain and beautiful forest. Located between Darian and Lemont, Illinois, off the Cass Avenue exit of Interstate 55, it offers DuPage County's best mountain biking. The main limestone trail loop is about 10 miles in length and several grassy side trails add more miles to explore. The limestone quarried here built Chicago's Water Tower and trees grown here were transplanted to Lincoln Park Zoo.

As seen in the next two photos, the woods are lovely and the trail is in good repair.

Though there are waterfalls in the preserve, the preserve's name honors "Bud" Waterfall, a former president of the preserve district. Over 200 years ago, a trapper named DuPahze lived here and the county is named for him. Besides lush pine and oak forest, marsh and wetlands exist. Rocky bluffs are also present, an unusual sight for northeastern Illinois, and one such bluff is obvious from the trail and has a creek running through it 30 feet or more below the trail level.

A few lakes like this are obvious from the trail and add more scenic value to the trail. Elevation gains of over 30 feet, impressive by Illinois standards, make this trail "challenging" according to the forest preserve district and assure a good workout. I biked on a Sunday in June and found the trail crowded with bikers and hikers, including families with young children. The limestone trail is well maintained and I saw numerous road bikes on it, though mountain bikes and hybrids were the norm.

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