By Sue Shekut, LMT, ACSM PT, Certified Wellness Coach
There is still time to enjoy the fall colors and get a bit of healthy hiking in this fall. Throw on a few layers of clothes, a good pair of hiking shoes, a camel back for water and grab a few LARABARs and you are ready to hike Waterfall Glen in the Chicago area!
Waterfall Glen is one of the DuPage County Forest Preserves. It rings Argonne labs and offers hikers, bikers, fishermen (and women), horseback riders and picnickers a chance to get away from the sounds, smells and traffic in the city. Being in nature has a stress relieving effect and exercise is good for stress management as well.
According to researchers at Cornell University: “Our study finds that life’s stressful events appear not to cause as much psychological distress in children who live in high-nature conditions compared with children who live in low-nature conditions,” says Nancy Wells, assistant professor of design and environmental analysis in the New York State College of Human Ecology at Cornell. “And the protective impact of nearby nature is strongest for the most vulnerable children — those experiencing the highest levels of stressful life events.”
From the Waterfall Glen website:
Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve has w glacier-formed ridges, ravines and potholes. The preserve is exceptional, because it contains features not found anywhere else in the county: The largest contiguous woodland block – over 700 acres — and a dolomite prairie, with rock very close to the surface and shallow soil, home to rare plants for the region.
Waterfall Glen’s many habitats — prairies, savannas, oak-maple woodlands and planted pine groves – and distinctive features make it a haven for a wide variety of plants and animals. Surveys by District ecologists have recorded more than 600 native plant species at the preserve, which includes 75 per cent of all the plants known to grow naturally in DuPage County. In addition, countless fish, amphibian, reptilian, and mammalian species can be found in the preserve, as well as more than 160 avian species, some year-round and some migrating.
Cyclists are invited to use any of the preserve’s eight-foot-wide multipurpose trails, although they are asked to stay toward the outside of the trails as a courtesy to other visitors. To prevent damage to sensitive natural areas, cycling on trails less than eight feet wide is prohibited.
Several old quarries scattered throughout the preserve offer still fishing waters. All persons 16 and older (except legally disabled persons) are required to have in their possession a valid Illinois sport fishing license. All anglers must follow District and state regulations.
In addition to the main trail loop, Waterfall Glen offers trails suitable for horseback riding throughout the preserve. Visitors with trailers should park in the designated parking bays at the trailhead on Northgate Road.
Model Aircraft Area
A large open field in the southwest section of the preserve is a popular spot for local model aircraft enthusiasts. For more information on access to this area or use by qualified model aircraft clubs, contact Visitor Services at (630) 933-7248.
Visitors are welcome to spread a blanket and enjoy a picnic in the mowed grass areas at Waterfall Glen. Ground fires are not permitted, except in the fire ring at the trailhead area.
Waterfall Glen’s four marked trails range from 0.2 miles to 9.5 miles in length and meander through some of the preserve’s most scenic areas. The main trail is an eight-foot-wide crushed-limestone multipurpose trail. In addition, there are many unmarked mowed-grass trails and footpaths that dissect the preserve. Feel free to hike and explore these smaller, less-conspicuous paths, but remember that they often are not linked to the main trail nor are they shown on the preserve map.
To find out more about Waterfall Glen go to the DuPage Country Forest Preserve Website here.