Swallow Cliff is a forest preserve/park near Chicago that is very popular among trail runners, hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. I’ve been up to Swallow Cliff dozens of times since I was a kid, but as I now live in California, I really haven’t had an opportunity to get back up there for the last 5 years…so my wife Laura, my sister Kathy, my dog Buster Bluth, and I got out to enjoy a late summer day’s hike at Swallow Cliff.
We parked in the main parking lot at the foot of the 125 step staircase that people constantly run on. However, instead of going up the stairs, we elected to take the purple trail east from the parking lot. From there, we went underneath LaGrange Road through the tunnel and then joined up with the yellow trail, which juts south and the loops all the way back to the parking lot we started in. Buster loved the hike.
My sister Kathy was running short on time so we decided to cut our 6 mile loop into a 2.5 mile loop by following the yellow trail through another tunnel that goes west under LaGrange Road to Swallow Cliff North, and then finally we joined up with the brown trail. The trails are clearly marked with colored posts and are remarkably easy to follow. Once we hit the brown trail, we followed it for approximately a quarter mile to another marked trail, the beige trail. The beige trail is a very short connector that cuts the yellow trail loop in half, joining back up to the top of the stone staircase. We followed this up a very gentle grade and walked down the stairs, capping off a fun day of hiking in the south suburbs of Chicago.
It was funny for me to hike Swallow Cliff. In high school, we used to run up here for track and it always felt like such a challenge. However, wife and I are used to hiking 10-20 degree grades in the California mountains and we were able to feel the benefits of overtraining.
|time: 90 minutes||calories burned: 500|
|distance: 3 miles||calories consumed: 0|
|elevation gain: 400′||water consumed: a few sips|
|weather: 75 and sunny||driving directions|
|GPS log: forthcoming|