Ascent of McHenry County High Point on 2014-10-19

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, October 19, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:McHenry County High Point
    Elevation:1190 ft / 362 m

Ascent Trip Report

I was able to find the county’s GIS map viewer site called Athena ( that has 2-foot LIDAR-derived contours if you zoom in closely enough and chose the right layers to display. This shows that there is only one 1190-foot contour, located at benchmark 1189 on the USGS map (area 7), and two 1188-foot contours to the NW and SW corresponding to areas 6 and 8 in Roy Wallen’s report. The northern 5 areas are all lower so I decided not to visit them.

I drove north on Reese Road from Oak Grove Road, looking for a place to park, when I was very pleasantly surprised to see that a brand-new trailhead complex has been constructed for the “High Point Conservation Area”, complete with a paved access road to a little parking lot, trailhead signs, and an outhouse. Very nice. I parked, grabbed a map from the trailhead sign, and hiked the main loop trail, which led through tallgrass and forest to the obvious rise (actually a bit steep) that marked the high point.

This is the highest point in NE Illinois and the most prominent (almost 300 feet, wow!) so a worthy objective even if you are no a CoHPer. I then followed the trail down the south side of the little summit hill and struck off across a field to the SW. I reached Reese Road (where I had just been), left the county park land, crossed it on foot, and tried to get to the 1188’ area there. There was a large barn complex, with a fence and gate, featuring a sign warning of “teams of guard dogs” attacking trespassers. It was hard to tell where highest ground was here, so I touched all candidate areas outside the fence and even went inside the open gate a bit to investigate a man-made pile of dirt before calling it and returning across Reese Road to the park land.

I completed the trail loop and returned to the parking area. The NW 1188’ contour, it turns out, is just behind the outhouse at the parking area, in some tallgrass, so I quickly tagged that, too. I feel that the main 1190’ summit is all that is needed to claim McHenry County. Overall this one is highly recommended.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:72 ft / 21 m
    Total Elevation Loss:72 ft / 21 m
    Round-Trip Distance:1.6 mi / 2.6 km
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:42 ft / 12 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2 ft / 0 m; Extra: 40 ft / 12m
    Loss on way in:40 ft / 12 m
    Distance:0.5 mi / 0.8 km
    Route:Nature Tr
    Start Trailhead:County Park TH  1188 ft / 362 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:32 ft / 9 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 2 ft / 0 m; Extra: 30 ft / 9m
    Gain on way out:30 ft / 9 m
    Distance:1.1 mi / 1.8 km
    Route:Nature Tr
    End Trailhead:1188 ft / 362 m

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