My Kind of Town

Hiking
By Christopher Collier
  |  Gorp.com

Sheer bluffs, sand dunes, river banks, and pine forests. These great hikes, surprisingly close to Chicago's big city mayhem, promise carefreestrides and natural exploration. You canhike anywhere, but these places are among the best.

Indiana Dunes

The ride down to the Indiana Dunes is industrial but is soon forgotten as youbecome enveloped by sand. While some dunes are off-limits, you're free to roam the beach or tromp on the many designated trails upand around the dunes. It's like being in the desert (except for the lake).

Starved Rock

Bluff city!!! For Chicagoland hiking, Starved Rock is on anyone's top 5 list of places to explore. Though the drive out is one cornfield after another, this is a hike with steep inclines and descents. Featuring 13 miles of trail and 18 canyons (unheard of in these parts), this hike will enthrall you with Lover's Leap, Eagle Cliff, Beehive Overlooks, Wildcat Canyon and, of course, Starved Rock.

Indian Boundary

A perfect getaway along an old rustic trail fully insulated from civilization. As the Indian Boundary trail follows the path of the Des Plaines River, it seems more like a right-of-way than anything else. No trail markers, no signs, just trail just like in the olden days.

Waterfall Glen

Though a bit strange, Waterfall Glen offers some great walks, from cut-grass trails to small footpaths to 8-foot-wide multi-use trails. Waterfall Glen is a preserve built around the Argonne National Laboratory, one of the largest federally funded scientific research facilities for physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences. You'd hardly notice while out on the trails, which run through pines, wetlands, meadows, and prairie.

Veteran Acres

A well-kept secret. Even Chicagoans who consider themselves outdoor savvy often don't know of this one, despite its great beauty and rolling hills. Located on the northern section of Crystal Lake about 45 minutes northwest of Chicago, Veteran Acres appears at first sight to be an openpark with Canadian geese, park benches, and a great weeping willow near a small pond. But back in the woods, a network of trails runs wild through pine forests and open vistas.




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