~ George Macauley Trevelyan
On the Des Plains River Trail
Lincolnshire Path to Potawatomi Woods and back
It was a day to remind me that winter was upon us. With the stiff wind and the low temperatures the wind chill was a brisk 16F – enough to make me thankful for my long silk underwear and winter gloves.
I started at Potawatomi Woods, on Dundee Road in Cook County – the nearest secure parking spot to my last end point – and started north. The trail starts out on the east bank of the Des Plaines River, resplendent in the cold hard morning sunshine . The trail in Cook County is not as well maintained as in Lake. Although the occasional deadfall does little to interrupt the walker’s progress, it may prove a challenge for the cyclist .
The trail crosses over Lake-Cook Road on a divided bridge – cyclists to the west and horses and walkers to the east and I was soon at one of my favorite spots on this walk. An otherwise unremarkable bridge over a wetland tributary of the Des Plaines, marks the site of my first river fording while training for my AT walk before the current bridge was constructed. I can still remember the look of horror on the faces of the astonished onlookers when I just walked knee-deep into the tranquil water, across the small stream with my pack on my back.
At Deerfield Road there was active construction in progress. They seem to be adding a pedestrian/cycle bridge next to the existing motorway over the river. I am constantly impressed at the care, maintenance, development and interest in the trails in Lake County.
Just north of here on the west side of the trail are the “kissing trees” also remembered from my prior hike.
Soon I was at “the gap” – the 0.25 of missing trail which forces a short diversion onto busy Milwaukee Ave before I could reach my northern turn about. The gap seems to be due to the presence of an old amusement park and fair – closed now for the season. It certainly looks like they could let the trail run through their property – even if they have to enclose it with a fence.
Then it was turn-around time and a nice walk back to Potawatomi Woods in time for a lunch break at the renovated shelter. They have bricked up the fireplace – an act that I contemplated as I ate my apple and plain-bagel-with-strawberry-cream-cheese from Dunkin Donuts.
My walk south through the woods showed additional evidence of careful forest management. Several of the trees were marked for growth and development measurements – so the Cook County Forest Preserve District are at least trying to preserve the woods. The trail signs here are not as elaborate as those in Lake County, but the thread way is clear and the walking pleasant.
The orange trail dead-ends at Winkelman Road, but do not despair – just walk west and cross the busy Route 21 (Milwaukee Ave) – and head straight into the parking lot at Allison Woods. The trail continues south –
as the brown trail – from the parking lot. This was my turn-about point for the day.
A pleasant walk back – renewing my “nodding acquaintance” with the rushes sedges and grasses.
Thought for Today:
“Sedges have Edges
And Rushes are Round.
Grasses have Nodes
All the way to the ground”