Day 233 – Illinois Northwest (Part 2)

If you like this article, please share. Thanks!

Day 233 of Year Long Roadtrip Following Scenic Byways in the USA

Apple River Canyon State Park

We started out the day trying to find Charles Mound, the highest point in Illinois measuring 1,235 feet tall.  We were unsuccessful, but continued through
the maze of cornfields to Apple River Canyon State Park where we took a mile walk through the hardwood forest.  While the wildflower lined trail was shaded by trees, I think I would have rather walked along the nearby, flowing river. Our stroll just about did Petey in, so we hopped back in VANilla and turned south toward Mississippi Palisades State Park.

Mississippi Palisades State Park

The Mississippi Palisades State Park offers a variety of overlooks as well as trails.  We made a few stops at the overlooks and tried spotting bald eagles, but it was the wrong time of year.  I think we spotted a few turkey vultures instead.  A sign by the overlook provided interesting facts on bald eagles. The birds that weigh between seven to fifteen pounds and have wing spans over six and half feet long are only native to North America.  Their name comes from the old English word “balde” meaning white-headed.  It takes juveniles which are brown four to five years to attain adult coloration.  Finally, they can see five to six times better than humans.  I had hoped to pick up a cache here, as Illinois alluded me during my first visit last September.  My cell reception has proved to be spotty, however, and this spot didn’t work!

Thomson Causeway Recreation Area

We continued along the Mississippi River passing through small towns and by Lock and Dam No. 13 before making a brief visit to Thomson Causeway Recreation Area which turned out to be closed to day use.  The water here along with places on the Mississippi River over the last few days was blanketed in a bright green film.  Given the heat and humidity, I’m not sure what we would have done here anyway (except look for a cache which again alluded me), so we moved further south where we reached Albany.


Albany was home to a drag racing facility and also had a town festival in the works.  Several streets around the town were closed as car aficionados hung out pampering the old priceless vehicles.  We found one street that took us to Albany Mounds, a historic Indian location where I finally found a cache.  Little did I know I was going to have to bushwhack to get to it. I came back onto the bicycle trail with twigs in my hair, a few scratches on my arms, and at least a handful of mosquito bites, but now I am able to mark Illinois off my list.

St. Charles, Missouri

We left Illinois and drove several hours to St. Charles, Missouri for the evening.  I must say I don’t think I enjoyed the Illinois scenic drive in September nor did I find this one too exciting with the exception of Galena.  I would definitely return for a quick weekend there.  ETB

Other Articles About Illinois You May Like


Check out the photographic note cards and key chains at my shop.  Each card has a travel story associated with it.  20% of proceeds are donated to charity.

photographic note card, waterfall in Olympic National Park
Best Adventure Travel Blog

If you like this article, please share. Thanks!

Published by

Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

3 thoughts on “Day 233 – Illinois Northwest (Part 2)

  1. The scoop on finding Charles Mound, the highest (heh, heh) natural point in Illinois can be found at:

    If you go north off of Stagecoach Trail to Scales Mound, IL on Elizabeth-Scales Mound Road it becomes Franklin St in the town. Franklin jogs east and quickly west at the RR tracks and picks up again going north. Just north of Scales Mound is a long straight crushed stone driveway going east. A little after you get on it, there will be a sign about the mound. As the link above notes, Charles Mound is on private property and ONLY open Saturday & Sunday on the first full weekends in June, July, August & September.

    Although only at a pathetic 1,235 feet, you will be rewarded by a very pleasant, bucolic view:

    As an historic aside, it’s a good thing for Illinois that the original – further south – historic boundary with Wisconsin wasn’t final since Charles Mound would have then been in Wisconsin (It’s a VERY short walk north to the IL-WI state line from Charles Mound). Then, the Illinois’ highest point would be even lower. Sigh!

    So, the next time you’re in the neighborhood, make the detour.

  2. Re: Charles Mound location…

    Go north on Elizabeth-Scales Mound Road off of Stagecoach Trail into the Town of Scales Mound. It becomes Franklin Street. When Franklin hits the RR tracks in beautiful downtown Scales Mound, it will jog east and quickly then west around the RR tracks. When you then go north again on Franklin, go just out of town and you will reach a quite long crushed stone driveway going east; take it. There should be a sign about Charles Mound along the drive. Go to the end of the drive and you will see a sign about parking for the walk up the hill.

    The Mound is on private property and ONLY open Saturdays and Sundays on the first FULL weekends in June, July, August & September.

    Note for history buffs… If the original proposed boundary between Wisconsin and Illinois had been used, Charles Mound would have been in Wisconsin and Illinois’ highest natural point would be even more pathetic than 1,235 feet.

    Anyway, as you get to the top, you will be rewarded by this beautiful, bucolic view:

Leave a Reply