Greetings, DuPagers! My name is Huma, and some of you may know me from various Sustain
DuPage events. I’m one of the Board members, and in my free time, I’m a practicing criminal
defense attorney in Illinois and in several states across the Midwest. I’ve lived in DuPage County
(Lombard and then Naperville) since I was ten years old when I moved here from Boston, and
I’ve always enjoyed how green it is out here.
In keeping with that, I’ve decided to enjoy DuPage County on foot by hiking in all of the
DuPage County forest preserves. We are fortunate enough to have a great Forest Preserve
District, which does great work to keep our green areas accessible to the public.
Not all DuPage County forest preserves are accessible, however, so in preparing for my project I had to set some parameters. I decided I would only hike in forest preserves that had a parking lot,
or convenient nearby parking, and some kind of path, even if it was just mowed turf (which, frankly, I often prefer to crushed limestone).
Join me on this journey, as I will post from as many DuPage forest preserves as I can, and share
pictures of our gorgeous county throughout the seasons. I will aim for 2 posts per month, but all
of that will be weather-permitting.
My first jaunt in this series took me to Hidden Lake forest preserve. I had passed this multiple
times a week ever since I started driving, but never quite noticed it until recently.
The entrance to Hidden Lake is on 53, heading north to Butterfield. If you turn left, you’ll enter
the Walmart parking lot; if you turn right, you’ll see a gorgeous lake and two good-sized parking
lots on either side.
October 21 turned out to be a gorgeous fall day for a hike. It was really more of a walk,
given that there was an elevation change of only 58 feet, but I still enjoy calling it a hike. There
are a couple ways you can go on the large but segmented loop trail; if you keep to the left half,
you’ll hug Hidden Lake as you work your way around; if you go to the right half, you’ll hug
Eagle Lake. I plan on doing Eagle Lake some other time, mostly because I had slept in on
Sunday and still needed to meal prep for the week and sort out my donations and recycling at
home. Oops! The best laid plans, right?
Hidden Lake is, according to the informational board, a coyote habitat. I wasn’t really worried
about that at eleven o’clock in the morning. I left the parking lot and almost immediately came to
a little bridge that looked out over the water.
Yes, there is a lot of Instagram-realness going on here with the letterboard, but bear with me. It
was a very clear day, hardly a cloud in the cerulean sky, which really exaggerated the blueness of
the lake. I was almost taken aback by how bright it was.
The trail is crushed limestone, and hugs the lake for the entire course. Dogs are permitted, and so
are horses, judging by the massive piles of dung I’d occasionally see. There is a covered area
with many park benches and a disposal can for hot coal, and I’m sure this is a lovely place to
throw parties in the summer.
I saw two spots to carry-in boats, but was sad to see that they were both located a bit of a ways
from the parking lot. Not terrible, but I’m used to places like Blackwell, where there is a big boat
launch mere steps from the parking lot. The carry-in spots were small, well maintained (as in,
mowed with very clear trails to them), and very, very inviting.
It’s unreasonable for me to complain about the distance, though, as it’s not like my inflatable
kayak is very heavy. As I stood by the little launch, watching the sun glitter on the waves, I was
sad that I’d put my kayak to bed for the season just the day before. I’m a sucker for small,
generally placid lakes, and have been known to see one while driving, pull over, inflate my
kayak, and be out on it in ten minutes flat. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, head over to Amazon and type in “Intex challenger inflatable kayak.” The K1 is for a single person and the K2 is for two. Best $60 I’ve ever spent!
That day, standing at the little launch, all I wanted was to be out on that surreally blue (hidden)
lake. I made a mental note that when my friend from Michigan comes to visit me next year, I’d
take her here for a little kayaking time. I had gotten her a kayak identical to mine as a birthday
gift, and we have spent many days out on the water in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
I continued on and worked my way past the pavilion area, where I saw a trio of lovely trees in
various shades. I just adore fall foliage. Growing up in Boston, I never had to go far to be able to
see rolling hills aflame with autumn. My parents would even load us into the car at least once a
year and drive to New Hampshire and Vermont, which are especially known for their fall
foliage, especially along the Appalachian trail as it winds its way through there and up to Mount
Katahdin in Maine.
We might be flat as a board here in Illinois – I told you the elevation change already – but
autumn is gorgeous just about anywhere.
This is a short trail. You’ll see the lakes, and a bunch of power lines, and you’ll never escape the
sound of traffic on 53 and Butterfield. It’s only 1.35 miles, the way I did it, just along Hidden
Lake, and although it took me 40 minutes, that’s because I was dawdling. It’s an excellent place to dawdle. And according to my trail tracking app, I burned 229 calories, which is almost 2
whole mozzarella sticks, so I was pleased with that.
I would have been more pleased if I had
almost 2 whole mozzarella sticks, but you can’t have everything you want, I suppose.
My trail map did not include Hidden Lake, so I made sure to upload my data and make it
accessible to other hikers, walkers, dirt bikers, and cross-country skiers who use the app
(although I don’t know how far skiers would get at Hidden Lake).
It was approved as of the
writing of this post, so DuPage is a little better represented for our lovely little walkabout spots.
I wanted to do Eagle Lake, which abuts 53 and ends just before the Morton Arboretum, but I’ll
do that another time. If you like to actually walk, you’ll probably want to do those two trails
together. For anyone who is differently-abled, the trail and parking lot seem to be fully
accessible. While the trail is mostly crushed limestone, part of it is pavement when you get to the
See you next time, DuPage! If you see a nerd with a red mini hiking pack contorting herself into
absurd positions to get “just the right shot” of a letterboard sitting on the ground, that’s me!
Come say hi! It’ll be awkward, because I will be embarrassed by what you just witnessed. But
we shouldn’t let that stop us.