Waterfall Glen is a popular, gorgeous 9.5 mile loop adjacent to Argonne National Laboratory in Darien, IL. The limestone paths are 8’ wide and easy enough to maintain a 6’ distance, even if it means stepping off of the path by a foot at some spots. Weekends draw the most visitors with mid-day during the week reigning in a close second.
The best times to avoid the crowds are:
- REALLY EARLY or an hour after sunrise will give you a head start on the trail. You’ll avoid families with kids and groups of teenagers that like to stroll the paths during the day. You may run into other adults walking, hiking, running, or biking but they’re generally solo getting in a workout.
- LATE IN THE DAY or a couple hours before closing which is an hour before sunset. This will obviously range from season to season but if you plan on going the full loop and biking, you’ll want to give yourself enough time to get done with your ride. Riding at medium speed, it’ll take you around an hour to complete the loop without stopping. Of course, you can always head out for as long as you want and then just turn around if you don’t want to do the full loop.
Please be mindful of the current Illinois state guidelines for mask usage. Personally, I wear a helmet, ski goggles, and a ski bandana/mask to be extra safe.
The trail is part of the DuPage Forest Preserve and there are many different ecosystems that you’ll pass if you do the full loop. You’ll see revived marshland, savannah, ponds, waterfalls, open prairies, and both oak and red pine forests. I have done this trail about ten times in the past year and there has always been something different to see. During my last visit, as I rode past one of the open marshes, two blue herons playfully took flight over the water. It was a magical moment and that was caught on video.
Most parking is currently for DuPage residents only but there is a small parking lot that is available if you are a non-resident and public street parking. Normally the lots are for everyone, but during Covid they are encouraging more local residents. The small parking lot is very convenient and many non-residents consistently park there including myself. I’ve yet to see anyone ticketed but can’t make any promises!
The designated street parking generally has a spot or two open and if not, someone generally comes within very little wait time.
Mostly those with a mountain bike will travel the trail but there are some road bike teams that will zip through. It’s crushed limestone and easy to ride. If you’re a single lane mounted biker there are a few off shoot trails that are fairly well marked where you can off road from the main drag.
This is one of my favorite trail rides. It’s amazing at any time of year because there is always something new to see. In spring, you’ll see deep into the landscape and be able to appreciate the waterfall, the oak forests and early blooming flowers like violet and yellow buttercups. By summer there is a full lushness to the different habitats which is captivating.
12 Minutes away you’ll find a great place to eat in Lemont called, Fork & Spoon. They are a breakfast and lunch place locally owned and operated.
If you make the trek, please be sure to let me know of your experience.
Would love to hear from you!