Well I have to say that Forest Glen Preserve was a wonderful experience. Being an Illinois park there is no charge for parking or camping. There also is no hunting allowed in the park, so fall trips are ok to do. There is hunting, however, in surrounding areas so we wore orange hats and vests just to be on the safe side.
My son, nephew, brother-in-law and I headed out on Friday a little later then expected. Our arrival was met with the Ranger station closed and the sun starting to set. The decision was made to start further up the trail so we parked at the Sycamore Hollow Center (#4). Fortunately for us, we met up with a couple of ladies who gave us a larger map then the one I printed up. So off into the setting sun we walked. Wasnít long before the first stream crossing came. While stone stepping in the dark, one of the rocks just slid out and my foot was now full under water. Someone has to be the tester . Up and into the dark we hiked. The moon was so bright that headlamps were hardly needed.
The group campground (#13) was a welcome site to see. It was starting to get cold and camp needed to be set up. Quickly we gathered wood and set up the hammocks and tent. I slipped on some booties and dried my shoes and socks while making dinner. The temps dropped to at least 30* that night. I woke to a beautiful sunny morning. Looking up, I noticed quite a few crows, then more and more. There must have been hundreds of crows flying to a morning meeting. You could hear them calling each other. I forgot to mention that we were the only ones there. The kids were free to run and shout all they wanted. As it turned out, there was a run/race that Saturday. We watched the runners go by while we had breakfast and broke camp.
With the sun shining we set off for the day. All the runners had passed and the trail was quiet. This place is not what I had expected. The hills were pretty steep and there were creek crossings without bridges. We are after all in Illinois. It was great! So my first thought is, ďwhy havenít I been here before?Ē. The kids were really digging it too. Not quite sure how the runners didnít kill themselves in a few places. Along the way was the Observation Tower (#7). Up to the top we went to enjoy a great view on a beautiful day. As it turns out it was the only place we saw anyone on the trail. The rest of the time we didnít run into another soul..
We had our pick of sites at the East Camp (#16). Set up camp and I hiked back down for water. It was also nice that water was plentiful. We never had to carry extra. I awoke to the same crow party. They seemed closer this time so I hiked through the woods and found huge groups of them gathering for a social event. Itís one of those mornings that sticks with you for a while.
That day we hiked the rest of our way back to the car. The weather had changed and it started to rain towards the end. We ran into the Ranger who had by now left a message with my wife that our car was abandoned and may be towed. In our haste to get out on the trail, I forgot my phone and didnít even think of leaving a note on the dash. He was pretty cool about it and explained his concern for our safety.
I canít wait to go back for another weekend trip. Being that the campsites are not far in distance itís perfect for the kids. The scenery is diverse enough to keep it interesting. The boys could have spent more time exploring ravines and playing in the creeks. The summer will provide more daylight for that. I enjoyed spending two nights out hanging in the hammock and spending the time with family. Coming from the Chicago metro area itís hard to find places to backpack without driving far. I would like to see this place in different seasons, although the trail could be quite treacherous with ice and snow.
If youíre close to this area and need a outdoor fix, this is a place to go for a weekend trip.
Here are some picks of the trip.