Ascent of Charles Mound on 2012-08-04

Climber: Alan Barber

Date:Saturday, August 4, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Charles Mound
    Elevation:1235 ft / 376 m

Ascent Trip Report

After a quick business trip to Chicago, I rented a car at O’Hare airport and drove out to Scales Mound Illinois. The trip, which took about 2 ½ hours, started on Interstate 90 which is a toll road. The cost at the three separate toll booths was $6 each way but one of the booths only took quarters (6). Fortunately I had enough to get through both ways. From I-90, the route turns onto US 20 at Rockford. It was simple to stay on US 20 until just before Stockton. Based upon the advice given to me by the nice folks at the Stockton Subway, I backtracked a little and took Illinois 78 north to Warren and then Stagecoach trail (and County road 3) West to Scales Mound. Since I arrived on Friday afternoon, I wanted to get a preview of the potential hiking routes for the next morning.

From the small community of Scales Mound there are two approaches to Charles Mound. At the northwest corner of Scales Mound (corner of Charles Mound Ave and Franklin Street) Elizabeth Scales Mound road heads due north to the Wisconsin border.
About 1 mile north of town a gravel road (number 8783) heads up a hill between a corn field and a field of what I think is soybeans to a line of trees. When I arrived on Friday, a sign on that road informed visitors that the High Point was closed. When I returned the next morning, that sign was “bagged” indicating we were welcome.

Another approach lies east and north of Scales Mound about 0.9 miles from the intersection of Charles Mound road and Jackson Street. This road is numbered 688 on a blue sign. This is the entrance commonly seen on the web sites. It has a gate across it. The High Point lies about 1.25 miles up the road. A pedestrian gate has been installed in the gate and a sign present on Saturday morning asked visitors to park at this location and hike up.

After spending the night in Galena Illinois (and visiting the US Grant home), I drove to Scales Mound in time to arrive a little before the 6 am sunrise at the High Point. Choosing the Western drive up approach (located about 1/2 mile south of the Wisconsin border) I drove up the gravel road 8783 past the covered “Charles Mound Closed Today” sign and into the trees. The road gets a little steep at this point in the trees and I parked at the eastern edge of the woods where I could see several buildings including a red barn. This approach was definitely shorter, and after hiking up the gravel road I came to a loop with a sign which indicated driving further was not permitted. The sign asks Highpointers to park at the loop and hike the short distance to the summit.

From that point it is less and 300 yards to the summit area. Looking back down the road you can see the gravel parking loop and the sign.I continued up the gravel road to the summit.In addition to a sign placed by the owners (Wayne and Jean Wuebbels), there were three USGS bench marks. As customary the high point marker has a triangle in its center. The two others USGS markers have arrows in the center pointing to the highest point marker. At this high point, the high point marker is set in a concrete block with cemented two nails pointing to it.

In addition to the sign and three USGS benchmarks, the Wuebbels have placed two metal lawn chairs overlooking the gentle rolling hills of the surrounding country side. Between these chairs is a metal box containing the register. I signed in and replaced the rock to hold down the lid. Wandering around the mowed area I noticed what is probably their private residence built on the north side of Charles Mound with beautiful views of the Illinois countryside below and northward into Wisconsin. A sign on the driveway clearly limits access beyond the high point.

After spending about 15 minutes at the high point, I started back to the car. The woods to the west of the road are dense and I startled two wild turkeys roosting in the trees. They flew off into the woods. There are also two ponds with frog which made interesting noises as I approached.

Reaching my car, I looked down the road to the South approach but did not see anyone hiking up it. Back in the car, I drove to Scales Mound and turned toward Chicago. The trip back to the airport was uneventful although I did see two police cars pulling speeders over in the area where the road construction is ongoing. Be careful in that area!

Charles Mound is located on private property with limited public access. It is probably the most limited access high point in the US. Currently it is only open during the daylight hours of the Saturday and Sunday of the first weekends of June, July, August, and September.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear

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