Charles Mound, Illinois (1,235') September 5, 2015
Mileage: 2.3ish miles RT
Elevation gain: 200ish' (not much)
Directions: The high point is roughly a three hour drive from Chicago Midway airport. Car GPS systems recognizes 688 Charles Mound Road, Scales Mound, Illinois, which will take you a few hundred feet before the gate. A green sign "688" and gate mark the entrance to the road walk.
Once again a work conference brought me close to a state high point, and not just any high point, the famous Charles Mound.
It's a lovely spot, but what makes this high point stand out is that it is open to the public just eight days a year, historically the first weekend of June, July, August and September from sunup to sundown. The conference was timed just right.
The land is owned by Jean and Wayne Wuebbels and their house is just beyond the high point. Restricting visitors to specific days in summer allows for some privacy. They ask that cars park on the main road only. Pets and after-dark visits are not allowed.
I got a rental car at Chicago Midway airport (not easy the Friday of a holiday weekend) and drove up to Freeport for the night (really not easy the Friday of a holiday weekend - traffic was quite backed up and highway construction had lanes dropped, speeds reduced).
It was foggy the next morning. My GPS did not take me through the town of Scales Mound but through the towns of Nora and Lena, rolling farmland with a large, majestic wind farm. This area is rich with history and Charles Mound was once the site of a fort.
|Through the mist I could see wind turbines for miles.|
I drove down windy gravel and paved roads until I got to Charles Mound Road. My GPS indicated I'd arrived at #688 a bit prematurely but I could see several cars parked further down on the side, making it easy to know where to go.
|The number sign is partially hidden from one direction.|
|It's nice of the Wuebbels to accommodate us geeky high pointers!|
It was hot and humid (really humid) but the mist was lifting. I enjoyed hiking up the dirt road with other high pointers.
The view of the field off to the left is beautiful. Livestock are penned in to the right.
|View off to the left.|
At one point a road goes off to the right and ascends. At first I thought that was the way to the highpoint but remembered that drawings of the area (in Holmes' and Zumwalt's books) indicate a straight shot from parking to the high point. No one mentioned a fork so I kept left on the main road, which is the correct way to go. I passed a field of tall corn where the road swings to the right. Just to be sure, I got out my iPhone and checked the map. I was headed in the right direction.
|You'll go past this barn, where high pointers used to park.|
The high point is past the barn and up the road a hundred or so yards. There were several people there taking photos and signing the register.
|Nice view to the right; the mist had lifted.|
|Three markers - this is the closest (note the nails).|
|Register, and where you put gifts - they like state mugs.|
There's just so much you can see and do up there and I had a plane to catch three hours away so I walked back down with Sandra and Dave, two high pointers from Ft. Myers, got into my car and made the trip back down to I-90, this time going through Scales Mound.