Illinois •
Charles Mound • Highpoint: State of Illinois
• Highpoint: Jo Daviess County
• Scales Mound Township

Me at the highpoint

Date: May 19, 1998 • Elevation: 1,235 feet • Prominence: 95 feet • Distance: 1 mile • Time: 30 minutes • Gain: 100 feet • Conditions: Humid, unsettled


Charles Mound is a small hill in northwest Illinois, an "erosional remnant" from the ancient glaciers that covered North America way back when. It is part of a hill complex that also spreads into Wisconsin and Iowa.

I flew into Midway Airport, got my car and headed west. The weather in Chicago was humid but calm. However, farther west, I encountered heavy thunderstorms. Fortunately, these abated as I neared Galena in the mid-afternoon. I also dropped and busted my eyeglasses. Note to self: get that newfangled Lasik done.

Galena sits astride the Mississippi River and has gigantic bulwarks and gates to guard against flooding, giving the place a medieval-fort look. From town, I followed lesser roads to the village of Scales Mound, closest town to Charles Mound.

I parked at the base of the access road and walked the last half mile to the top. There was a sign and lawnchair at the highpoint. I admired the views, then returned to my car, a round trip of 40 minutes. This was the first state highpoint I visited on this trip, and I would visit six more over the next few days.

By now, it was late in the afternoon. I crossed the Mississippi River into Iowa and stayed the night in Cedar Falls. The weather got interesting again, perhaps a little too interesting for my comfort level. There were tornado warnings in effect for the surrounding area. All we had was heavy rain, but a twister was a distinct possibility. The next day, I would visit Iowa's highpoint.

(Note: Charles Mound is privately owned, but the landowners allow access on selected weekends during the year. The National highpointers club would have the dates. Please don't go unannounced. When I visited, there was no restriction in place.)

(c) 1998, 2020 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.