Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Review of 60 Hikes within 60 miles of Chicago

Ted Villaire's book is one of those guidebooks that will have to be replaced now and again because it gets lost under the seat of the car or is damaged by water, wind, sun, or animals. It is a worthy companion for daytrip adventures around Chicagoland.

My only complaints about the book are minor. As a veteran Appalachian Trail hiker who relied on elevation profiles to determine the difficulty of a day's hike, I found the elevation profiles for most Chicagoland hikes unnecessary. Maybe in the next edition just put up elevation profiles for particularly hilly hikes. There is also a near absence of hikes in Kane County, which has, by my estimation, some of the best hiking and well-managed forest preserve systems of any county in the state.

Some nice features include the hiking recommendations, which lists hikes and page numbers by mileage and other features, including good hikes for young children, urban hikes, solitudinous hikes, and hikes near public transportation routes. Most of the recommended hikes are loop hikes and of long enough duration to merit a special trip to them. Hikes are also listed by geographic regions, which makes for easier planning of multi-hike trips. And Villaire's route descriptions provide a good mix of landmark descriptions and tidbits about the natural and human history of the area.

While most of the information in this book can be culled from county forest preserve web sites, it is nice to have it in one easy-to-read, accessible place. I look forward to many happy miles with this book in my pack.

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