Illinois: Charles Mound (1,235 feet)
Date: June 6, 2015
Distance: 2.5 miles round trip
Elevation: 1,235 feet
Bathrooms: High Point Park a few minutes away
Since Jill and I started this crazy hobby we fondly refer to as highpointing, we both have held high anticipation for Charles Mound. With Illinois’ highpoint sitting on private property, the owners open up their land to the public only eight days of the year: the first full weekends in June, July, August, and September. Since we know the highpointing community extends beyond us, we naturally reasoned that on these four weekends, the experience would be akin to a party on Charles Mound.
It wasn’t exactly a party. It didn’t even come close to rivaling the popularity of the heavily trafficked Clingmans Dome. But, we did see four of the seven people who reached the summit before us and another seven on our way down. We reached the highpoint around 9:30, so by 10:00, Charles Mound would boast at least 17 visitors on Day 1. While an honorable amount of traffic, it’s not the bust open the champagne and bond with fellow highpointers kind of party we had come to envision. The very first visitors of the day arrived at 6:00 am according to their register entry – kudos to them for being the first legitimate visitors of the year. One entry preceded them on June 4. It’s unclear if that was a trespasser or a family friend, though I’ll add it’s super ballsy if they were trespassing and signed their name to it.
Being farm country, the nearest hotel that made sense given our Frank Lloyd Wright adventure (see below) was about an hour away in Dubuque, IA. Normally, that would be fine, but after a bottomless cup of coffee and a lot of water, my bladder was at capacity by the time we arrived. Out of respect for the Wuebbels, I did not pee on their property. I also didn’t want to ruin visitation rights for future highpointers, so I had a rather uncomfortable 2.5 miles. Nearby, is a park called High Point Park with public restrooms for those in similar need.
Luckily, my daughter kept me distracted pointing out different shaped rocks, a stream, the crops, and the views. The property offers enough shade to make for a pleasant family walk on a nice day – probably even better with an empty bladder.
At the top, the Wuebbels set up two chairs bookending the register box that invite highpointers to stay awhile and enjoy the view. Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois are all visible from the summit.
We found three summit markers near the Charles Mound sign, all clustered around the same general location. Two are to the right of the sign; one is across the driveway from the sign.
- February 16-17
- June 1-2
- July 6-7
- August 3-4
- Sep 7 & 8
The Wuebbels are aiming to collect coffee mugs from each state. We weren’t sure where to leave our offering since when you reach the top, you are faced with a No Trespassing beyond this point sign. We narrowed our options down to leaving it in the register box, which seemed risky, leaving it by the No Trespassing sign, disobeying their request and dropping it on their front step, or taking it back home with us. We opted for leaving it by the No Trespassing sign, and emailing them so they would look for it. I never heard back, so hopefully our efforts of selecting the perfect mug and carrying it from DC to IL, then up their 1.25 mile driveway paid off.
Also, please note their rules: 1) Park on the road outside their property, 2) Leave your pets at home, 3) Visit during daylight hours only.
Perhaps take a picnic lunch with you. Most importantly, enjoy your party on Charles Mound!
Directions: Head north out of Scales Mound (circle around the tracks) until you get to Charles Mound Road. Take a right (east). That road will wind around for a mile and one half until you get to their property. Set your GPS to: 688 West Charles Mound Road, Scales Mound, Illinois. Look for the blue highway sign that says 688.
Be sure to budget in time for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin. While perhaps not as impressive as his other major properties such as Taliesin West or Fallingwater, it is less than a 90 minute drive from the Wuebbels’ house, and still a worthwhile road trip. Reserve your tour tickets in advance as the spots are limited.
For a tasty sandwich before or after your Taliesin tour, try The Shed. The midwest as a whole makes seriously delicious sandwiches.
If you stay the night in Dubuque, we enjoyed Dottie’s for breakfast, along with many locals. Breakfast was the real party of the day with hearty food and coffee in a family-friendly environment.