We’ve driven by Swallow Cliff before but have never walked here–until today. It’s one of the more popular spots in the Cook County Forest Preserve, and it’s easy to see why.
The area, near Palos Park, Illinois, is heavily forested with a varied terrain of bluffs, ravines, savannas, creeks, and wetlands. In a our mostly flat area, it’s unusual to have such a big bluff. The bluff, formed by glaciers, brings sledders to the preserve in the winter, but the 125 limestone stairs and the surrounding trails attract the athletes year-round.
Feeling rather athletic ourselves, my husband, oldest and youngest sons, my daughter, and I eagerly headed from the parking lot towards the stairs, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Not wanting to slow up any of the athletes behind me, I bounded up those stairs at a faster pace than I would have liked. At about stair 90, I honestly didn’t know if I was going to make it to the top without a rest (or perhaps some muscular athlete throwing me on his back). After gasping up the last 35 stairs, I joined my family near a stair-counting abacus that a boy scout troupe erected at the top of the stairs, and we started our hike.