Friday, June 12, 2015

SWALLOW CLIFF TOBOGGAN RUN

Yesterday I visited a well-known suburban destination - mostly unknown to Chicago residents.  I visited the SWALLOW CLIFF TOBOGGAN run.  Although the toboggan run closed in 2004 - The site still has plenty to offer those seeking a unique outdoor workout.


from the Forest Preserves of Cook County website...

SWALLOW CLIFF TOBOGGAN. Constructed in 1930 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, 125 limestone stairs lead to the top of a former toboggan run at Swallow Cliff North. Although the runs were closed in 2004, the stairs remain a popular exercise destination for fitness buffs and casual walkers. (Some stair climbers build pebble piles at the top of the stairs to keep track of their trips up and down.)
That this is a popular exercise destination is precisely what brought me there yesterday.  Last week I was alerted to this unusual hill and set of 125 steps.  Illinois is a very, very flat state - This toboggan run is about the highest 'mountain' in Illinois!  That's probably not quite true - but it is hard to think of a bigger hill anywhere near Chicago.

The first time I climbed the stairs, I counted the steps - and sure enough there were precisely 125 steps.   The elevation of the steps from top to bottom is approximately 100 feet.  I had previously read about the tradition of building a pile of rocks to keep track of the trips up and down... and that is precisely what I did to keep track of my twelve round trips.

My pile of pebbles, which I used to keep track of trips up and down the steps had some personality
I had already done my daily workout in the morning.  In recent weeks when I have been home in Chicago, my workouts have been consisting of a brisk walk up 25 flights of stairs, 32 minutes on the elliptical machine followed by a quick descent back to the ground floor.  It has been a long time since I have worked out twice in one day.  My 12 round trips up (and down) the 125 steps took about 45 minutes... I had a couple of short rests in between circuits.  It was not too difficult to find someone to take some photos.





This photo, I took, just showing the people walking up  and down.  I was told that these steps are really crowded on weekends.   There is something more interesting when walking up and down actual steps outside compared to working out on a stairmaster machine.

SWALLOW CLIFFS is only 26 miles from my home, however it was nearly two hours away from home in Chicago 'rush hour' traffic.   I think I might like to bring my family to Swallow Cliff and/or perhaps take a day hike in one of the many of Forest Preserves that are all over Chicagoland.

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 THURSDAY MENU
breakfast  oatmeal w/raisins, two poached eggs, two slices bacon       505 calories
lunch       spinach salad, corn on the cob, cucumbers salad, salmon    385 calories  
dinner      spinach salad, turkey burger, corn on the cob, potato pancake 484 calories
SNACK   TWO APPLES, QUAKER POPPED RICE CAKE MINIS    596 calories total calories    1970 calories

calories burned
STAIR CLIMBING (ground floor to 25th floor)  65 calories  (3 min, 58 sec)
7AM ELLIPTICAL 25 MINUTES ONLY (level 16, manual setting)  627 calories
STAIR DESCENDING (25th floor to ground floor) 15 calories (2 min, 8 sec)

SWALLOW CLIFFS STEP CLIMBING (TWELVE TRIPS)  255 CALORIES


TOTAL CALORIES BURNED  962 CALORIES

THURSDAY NET CALORIES  1008 CALORIES

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A SMALL GALLERY OF SOME HISTORICAL PHOTOS OF THE OLD TOBOGGAN RUN (in the good old days)


Swallow Cliffs Toboggan Run back in its heyday....








Swallow Cliffs as it appears today - stripped of the Toboggan Run


more from the Forest Preserves Cook County website....
NATURE at SWALLOW CLIFF   Swallow Cliff is a 100-foot-high bluff formed 12,000 years ago when glacial meltwater carved out the Sag Valley, leaving behind steep walls and a varied landscape of morainal hills and pothole lakes. As it did across the region, fire shaped the natural communities here. More frequent fires in some areas maintained prairie openings, while woodlands developed in more protected areas. Wet marshes and sedge meadows are scattered throughout the landscape.

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