|Distance||2.5 miles roundtrip|
|Terrain||Hilly, 300 feet of elevation gain|
- Ascend the highest point in Illinois
- Pastoral views and rolling hills
**This hike is on private property and only accessible on certain days each year, historically the first weekend of the month in June, July, and August. Check Highpointers.org for access dates before going.**
Charles Mound marks my 11th state highpoint, which, despite its relatively easy hike, is a difficult accomplishment solely because of its access restrictions. Unlike the similarly unremarkable, farm adjacent highpoints in neighboring Iowa and Indiana, the Illinois state highpoint is in a surprisingly pretty area, filled with rolling hills and picturesque farms. Located only a half-mile from the Wisconsin border and rising to 1235 feet above sea level, Illinois is so flat that technically Willis Tower in Chicago is higher by 800 feet. Check this highpoint off your list and make it a weekend trip, visiting some of the beautiful state parks in the Driftless Area along the Mississippi River, including the highly photographed Mississippi Palisades State Park.
The trail starts as an old access road, now overgrown with weeds as pictured below. Shady oaks line the sides, providing relief from the hot summer sun. Though the path is straight and flat, it's a peaceful walk as the leaves rustle in a warm breeze.
It's important to remember that this hike is on private property, and the owners have the right to prohibit access entirely. Be respectful, just as you would in your best friend's backyard. Dogs are not allowed, and access is only permitted during daylight hours. This hike is doable for kids, and I saw several families during my visit. Typically, the property is only open the first weekend of each of the summer months, though they have been open on a weekend in February in the past -- visit Highpointers.org for dates. Bug spray is an absolute necessity; the gnats made my hike almost unbearable. Given the limited access dates, you will definitely see people, many of whom travel from all over the U.S.
Charles Mound is smack in the middle of farm country and isn't close to any cities. Use the Google Maps link below to navigate from wherever you may be. After meandering through farm country on country roads, you'll know you've found the right place when you see the gate and sign pictured below.
Google Maps Directions
Parking, Fees, and Facilities
Parking is free! Be respectful and ensure you are not blocking any driveways with your vehicle. There are no facilities here or nearby.
Apple River Canyon State Park, Illinois
Bellevue State Park, Iowa
Bellevue State Park, Iowa
Mississippi Palisades State Park, Illinois