At 1,235 feet above sea level, Charles Mound is the high point for the state of Illinois, which ranks as the 45th state in order of elevation. Charles Mound is located in the northwest corner of the state, near the town of Galena, and is less than 1/2 mile from the Illinois/Wisconsin border. Unlike the rest of the state, Northwestern Illinois was spared by the glacial activity that flattened most of the Midwest. The area actually has some rolling hills, limestone bluffs and some very nice scenery.
Interesting fact: The Sears Tower in Chicago rises 1,450 feet above ground with a ground elevation of 583 feet. That puts the top of the Sears Tower at an elevation of 2,033 feet above sea level, nearly 800 feet higher than Charles Mound. However, it is obviously not considered to be the state highpoint since it is man made.
Charles Mound is located on private property, and therefore public access is limited. It is currently open to visitors only during the first weekend of June, July, August, and September. They've also added one winter access day in February but note that the access lane is not plowed. The access dates for 2021 are:
-February 13th & 14th (weekend of Presidents Day)
-June 5th & 6th
-July 3rd & 4th
-August 7th & 8th
-September 4th & 5th
The owners have stated that they constantly receive requests to make exceptions to the above dates but if they did, they'd be open virtually every day. Therefore, there are no exceptions to these dates... There is no charge for access. Contact the owner below for more information but please be respectful and mindful that you are on private property when visiting! The owners have the three basic rules:
1. NO CARS allowed on their lane!
2. NO PETS allowed on their property!
3. NO VISITORS AFTER DARK!
From the owner: So many of you bring us gifts and, while we certainly appreciate it, it is not necessary. However, if you do feel so inclined, we have started a collection of state mugs brought to us by highpointers. We are hoping to eventually get all 50 states. We got one from Afghanistan last year! So, if you want to bring a gift; bring a mug! (If you bring one, drop a business card or something with your name and address in it, so we know who it is from.) You can just leave it on the rocks under the Charles Mound sign.
Owner: Wayne E Wuebbels 688 W Charles Mound Rd Scales Mound, IL 61075-9343 firstname.lastname@example.org
Finding the place is the hardest part, as there are no signs on the road that mark the high point. The nearest town is Scales Mound. Map it. Once in Scales Mound, head to the northeast corner of town. Take Charles Mound road for about a mile. You will take a sharp left and then a sharp right. The first driveway you come to on the left will be the private drive leading to Charles Mound. The only sign marking the driveway is a small blue sign with the street address (number 688) on it. (The sign may be missing.) The driveway has a metal gate that may be closed. Park in front of the gate and walk up the gravel road/driveway 1 mile to the house. (The owner informed me that he prefers that people do not drive up to the house.) There is a sign in front of the farm house that informs you that you are in the right place. Continue along the dirt driveway past the farm house. The high point is marked by a sign about 1/4 mile on the right hand side of the dirt road. If you see a Doberman wandering loose, don't panic. She is as friendly as a kitten.
There are many activities that can be combined with a visit to Charles Mound. The town of Galena offers a plethora of things to do, including horseback riding, fishing, boating, golf, shopping, hotels, restaurants, etc. In addition, there are 2 wonderful state parks nearby. Apple River Canyon State Park near the town of Millville, IL has several very nice hiking trails, picnic areas, and some dramatic limestone bluffs. Tower Rock Trail in particular is worth hiking as it leads to a very cool looking limestone tower that overlooks the Apple Canyon River. It is an easy 40 ft class-4 climb to the top on the trail side, with a drop of ~100 feet on the river side. (Climbing in the park is prohibited - however if no one is around...) (13 miles from Charles Mound) Mississippi Palisades State Park near the town of Savanna, IL offers hiking, camping, fishing, hunting and excellent rock climbing opportunities of all levels. (35 miles from Charles Mound)
No special gear is required to visit Charles Mound as it is just a walk-up; however, it is about 2 miles round trip from the gate. You should have a good pair of walking shoes or hiking boots, a bottle of water on hot days, and/or an umbrella based on weather conditions.
Charles Mound was named after Elijah Charles who lived there in 1828.