Help me find hills in the flatlands
January 5, 2007 9:23 AM   Subscribe

Are there any places within a few hours of flat-as-a-pancake Chicago that offer a scenic, preferably hilly hiking experience?
posted by walla to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Starved Rock State Park is very popular.
Also check out Apple River Canyon, Mississippi Palisades, and Moraine Hills.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:31 AM on January 5, 2007

Devil's Lake State Park near Baraboo, WI, is a little over 3 hours from Chicago. It is hilly and scenic and well worth the drive.
posted by found missing at 9:32 AM on January 5, 2007

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is only a couple hours (depending on traffic) and has some VERY hilly dunes. And it's gorgeous. At lesat, during the summer it is - I wouldn't be able to tell you what it looks like in this horribly crappy way-too-warm weather we're having.
posted by bibbit at 9:40 AM on January 5, 2007

Ah, bibbit beat me to the recommendation of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. I second it.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:45 AM on January 5, 2007

Second Starved Rock, too. Beautiful, tons of trails, pretty hilly, just 90 minutes or so from downtown Chicago.

Though it will probably be a lot more scenic (and warm) in March/April/May-ish.
posted by CMichaelCook at 9:49 AM on January 5, 2007

Second the dunes and this great hotel we stayed at, The Spring House Inn. Try to get a room with a forest view.

Since the dunes are sandy it makes them a challenging hike. I've seen it in rainy fall, and it's lovely.
posted by scazza at 10:16 AM on January 5, 2007

Closer in there's Palos and you can also find decent singletrack to hike at Waterfall Glen.

Here's the local mountain bike group's trail map to Palos which is fairly well done and will get you to some neat places.

Bonus about Palos: If you go to the right spots you can find where the reactor from the Manhattan Project is buried!
posted by ArcAm at 10:26 AM on January 5, 2007

I second Devil's Lake. It's worth the trip.
posted by drezdn at 10:44 AM on January 5, 2007

The Kettle Moraine State Forest, which is located near Cedarburg, northwest of Milwaukee, is a good one too.
posted by christinetheslp at 11:13 AM on January 5, 2007

Southern Illinois is hilly, and has several small parks in the Shawnee Forest, I like Ferne Clyffe myself. But it's more like a 5 or 6 hour drive. Depending, of course, on who's driving...
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 11:22 AM on January 5, 2007

I can't remember how far the drive was, but I took a school trip from Chicago to Galena, where it was hilly enough for skiing.
posted by njb at 11:36 AM on January 5, 2007

Response by poster: These are great, everyone, thanks! And bibbit, I hear you on the creepy weather. Where's my Chicago snow? My puffy ankle-length coat is languishing in my closet!
posted by walla at 11:59 AM on January 5, 2007

i have been hiking around Chicago for bet not requiring a day trip - the Sag Valley Trail System in Palos, part of the Cook County Forest Preserves. The loop that starts at the Palos Park Woods is about as hilly as it gets in the Chicago area. A little farther, Moraine Hills State Park in McHenry, last time we were there in the Fall, there were pairs of sand hill cranes in a few diiferent places in the park.
posted by readery at 1:58 PM on January 5, 2007

We used to just go out to Busse Woods.
posted by First Post at 2:41 PM on January 5, 2007

Hoosier National Forest in south central Indiana is a great place...moderate hills, trees, and occasional views. Good times.
posted by rlef98 at 3:19 PM on January 5, 2007

I'll nth the dunes and further, as I happen to own a cabin smack dab in the middle of it, I will vouch for the hillyness of the Hoosier National Forest.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:27 PM on January 5, 2007

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