By Ted Villaire
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Extra info for 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Chicago: Including Aurora, Northwest Indiana, and Waukegan
Here are a few tips to make your trip safer and easier. Hike with a buddy. Not only is there safety in numbers, but a buddy can aid you if you twist an ankle on the trail, help if you get lost, assist in carrying lunch and water, and be there to share in your discoveries. If you’re hiking alone, be sure you’ve left your hiking itinerary with a friend or relative. It’s best to bring a buddy not only to infrequently traveled or remote areas but also to urban areas. Stay hydrated. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty; instead drink plenty of water throughout the hike and at regular intervals.
Even though much of the native landscape was gently rolling prairie, numerous hilly wooded exceptions could always be found. Among those places spared from the steamrolling effect of the last glacier were the steep hills scattered throughout McHenry and Lake counties, the wooded bluffs within the Palos/Sag Valley Forest Preserve, and the sandstone cliffs and canyons along the Illinois and Kankakee rivers. And later, after the last glacier began to recede some 14,000 years ago, the colossal sand dunes formed at the south edge of Lake Michigan.
Just bring a headlamp or a flashlight, or better yet, take a hike under the glow of a full moon. When hiking in fall and winter, be mindful that some parks may be closed for hunting, while others may provide restricted access, and still others will allow hikers and hunters to coexist. During hunting season, it’s never a bad idea to call the park administration to ask about access and safety precautions. Many people prefer hiking in summer, when the sun is warm, the greenery is lush, and kids are searching for something to do.