When I read the descriptions of Waterfall Glen on Traillink.com, the “rock ridges, ravines and wetland potholes” intrigued me, so without much research other than driving directions, we made the last minute decision drive up to Darien, Illinois, to walk. We were even able to convince our nineteen year-old son to join us this cool, misty day.
We’ve walked a couple of times near the Des Plaines River and the Illinois and Michigan Canal, and each walk has been worth the trip. This walk, also near the Des Plaines River, was memorable.
We noticed right away that the parking lot had a significant number of cars despite the lousy weather, so we decided it must be an interesting place We saw several people ignoring the Trail Closed sign, so we followed them and headed counter-clockwise on the looped trail from the Lemont Road parking lot.
This part of the trail must flood often, because a passing runner, headed immediately up to the adjacent railroad tracks and ran right next to the tracks on the rocks (ballast?) while we stood there dumbfounded, staring at the flooded trail.
After we deliberated at length whether our thirteen year-old son with Autism Spectrum Disorder would infer that it’s acceptable to walk near railroad tracks, we followed the runner (along with strict warnings to never do this alone). My husband and youngest son each still managed to completely submerge a foot crossing the swampy area between the tracks and the unflooded trail. I got one foot pretty wet too. We still enjoyed the lovely marsh.
Once through the flooded area, we walked past Poverty Prairie (named after a type of oat) and the model airplane flying field before turning around to head back. (By this time, we noticed that several passing cyclists had somehow managed to either ride through the flooded marsh trail or also went along the railroad tracks and through the swamp to get back to the trail–but carrying bikes! We debated their methods for quite some time.)
On our way out of the preserve, I picked up a map. I learned then that the ten mile main trail and the entire preserve encompasses Argonne National Laboratory. Once home, I learned even more about Waterfall Glen’s unique ecology from the DuPage County Forest Preserve’s website. We’ll just have to go back to see the waterfall!
If I had done my research in advance, we would have probably parked in a different lot and kept our feet dry. On the other hand, if I had done my research, we would not have laughed our entire way along railroad tracks and through a swamp.
Good day, good walk!