I made it to this highpoint after Nebraska’s Panorama Point. My map program had given me a couple of routes to get there, but I ended up taking another one altogether. That route is illustrated below. Unlike Nebraska’s high point, this highpoint is well marked with signs along the route. It is also hard to miss the giant sunflower sculpture in the middle of a barely noticeable hill. The marker is in the middle of a field and one can drive right up to the highpoint. Even though I was still a bit upset about my horrible experience in Nebraska, I took the time to film a groundhog playing near the monument. The view is pretty nice, though you can’t really see forever because everything is so flat. I visited Missouri’s highpoint, Taum Sauk, the next day.
Trip Report This highpoint will forever be infamous to me. On my way to UT, July 12, 2002, I was hoping to reach Panorama Point. I had already been to Hawkeye Point and Charles Mound that day and was hoping to make this my third. However, I arrived just after sundown and after 20 minutes of searching could find no sign or trace of the highpoint. As it was dark and my directions were not very good, I decided to continue on to Utah and try the highpoint again on my way back.
Returning through Wyoming on July 17, 2002, I again attempted the Nebraska highpoint. This time I arrived at Pine Bluffs, WY around 10:00 am. I had plenty of time. I was using directions from my map program (Microsoft’s Streets and Trips). As can be seen in the maps below, the highpoint on the map program isn’t really where the highpoint is. I found the highpoint denoted by the program, but there wasn’t anything to mark it. I have pictures of the wrong panorama point below. It’s a rock pile at the top of a rise. Having been to several highpoints and having looked up Panorama Point on the web, I knew there was supposed to be a marker, so I wasn’t convinced that I had been to it. I didn’t know where else to look. Finally, I realized that according to the information on the web, the highpoint was only 1 mile from the tri-state marker. Since I couldn’t find the highpoint, I decided I would look for the tri-state marker. I eventually found it, nearly 1 hour after I had arrived in Pine Bluffs. From there I could see some markers in the distance on a hill in what looked to be Nebraska. Even though I knew I wasn’t supposed to hike from one to the other, I was so sick of trying to find the highpoint that I decided to hike it. Twenty minutes later I was standing at the highpoint.
Having finally found it, I also realized where it should have been on the map. The correct location and directions are given below. The view from Panorama Point is pretty good. It is also surrounded by a herd of buffalo, with no fences separating them from the monument. Though my experience wasn’t the best in trying to find the place, it was good to finally say I had been there.
This was my second high point of the day. I had reached Charles Mound, Illinois early that morning and made it to Hawkeye Point at around 1:30 or so. As you can see on the map, there is a marker showing the elevation of 1670 ft. This is in the wrong place on my map program (Microsoft Streets and Trips). Since I was following the directions to that point, I drove around a bit, originally taking 120th St. After realizing that the map point was completely inaccessible because it was in the middle of a field, and knowing that it was supposed to be on someone’s farm, I stopped at a farm and asked directions.
If you’ve seen a picture of me, it’s fairly obvious that my long-haired hippy look doesn’t fit in all that well as un upstate Iowa farm boy. The farmer that gave me directions didn’t even have to ask me what I wanted, he simply asked if I was looking for the high point and pointed out the water tower that sits near it.
I was only a couple minutes away from the farm. I drove up to the farm (a very nice little farm) and saw the sign on the north side of the water tower that says “Hawkeye Point 1/8 mile south”. I grabbed my camera and tripod and walked down the path toward the trough where the high point is. The highpoint is completely surrounded by corn fields and farms for as far as the eye can see. I snapped a few shots, signed the registry and headed back to the car. I was hoping to make it to Nebraska’s Panorama Point before nightfall (I didn’t make it and had to stop by there at another time).
I had already been to two state high points on July 11, 2001, Ohio and Indiana, and was hoping to make Illinois my third. I got a later start than I would have liked from Cincinnati. If I had left home earlier, I would have been able to do all three. But I arrived at Scales Mound, Illinois just after midnight. I had been driving for hours, was very tired, and couldn’t really see anything in the dark. So I pulled up into what appeared to be a gated farm entry road and decided to sleep until first light. I slept for about 5 hours until it was just starting to get light.
I was on Charles Mound Rd. but didn’t know where the entrance gate was. I went back to the beginning of the road and drove for 1.3 miles, knowing that the entrance was supposed to be at that point. Surprise surprise, the little gated entrance where I had slept was right at the 1.3 mile point. The gate was completely unmarked. Another 40 feet down the road was an entrance to another farm. I knew that the owners of the Charles Mound lived near the mound, so I decided that it must be the second entrance. I pulled into the lane and parked right away, remembering that I wasn’t supposed to pull up toward the house at the request of the owners. I hopped out with my camera and tripod and headed up the lane. It was just after 5:00 am and no one was up. I figured there would probably be signs at some point, so I hiked all the way up to the house. Nothing. No signs. Now what? At this point I could see two hills to the north of the farm home, each with a barn near them; one to the east, one to the west. I remembered reading somewhere that the mound was behind a barn, so I headed up toward the barns. I looked for a path thinking the whole time that it was ridiculous that there wasn’t a path to the highest point in Illinois. I hiked through three fields, hopped a couple of fences and was heading for the barn to the east. I finally got to another fence and realized that the barn to the east wasn’t as high as the hill behind the barn to the west. I changed my direction and headed for the other barn and hill. As I passed the barn, I saw something that made me slap myself…a road. A nicely groomed road. A beautiful road. I’m an idiot. This is a state high point. There has to be a path. People visit this everyday. What was I thinking?
I was now at the road. I was an idiot, but after nearly an hour of hiking through fields, it was good to see a path. I followed the path another couple hundred feet and voila, there was the high point. It was good to see but at an annoying cost. The high point was very nicely groomed, the grass was mown and there were even a couple of lawn chairs set up to look out over the surrounding area. I had hoped to make it in time for the sunrise but just missed it. I snapped a few pictures and noted that the Wuebbels (the property owners) actually live right on top of the mound, just a bit further down the road to the west.
As I headed back out, I was getting worried that the property owners where I had parked my car would be awake and wondering where the owner of this car was. I headed down the road. Once I got to the barn, I saw several signs telling high pointers where to park. I’m assuming this was prior to the current instructions that want people to park at the gate. I followed the road, which forked (I don’t know where the other side comes out; I would have taken the time to find out, but I was worried about my car). Happily, the fork I took was heading in the direction that my car was parked, which was south of the hill. As I was rounding the last corner before the long, straight stretch to Charles Mound Rd., I realized where I was going to come out – the small gated entrance where I had spent the night.
I’m a double idiot! Not only did I miss the entrance the second time I looked for it, but the first time, unknowingly, I had found it and even spent the night there but went out of my way to convince myself that it wasn’t the entrance. I hopped back into my car; the car was unharmed and the neighbors hadn’t said anything. Off to Iowa’s Hawkeye Point.
I was coming from Ohio’s Campbell Hill. I took US 36 from Ohio to Indiana. The route wasn’t very fast. It may actually be faster to take I-70, even though you would have to travel quite a bit further. The directions I had, said that the high point was on County Line Road. I didn’t see the high point. Rather than drive around for a while, I stopped in Arba, Indiana (it isn’t really a city per say, but more like a group of houses) to ask for directions. They told me to head south on Arba Rd. until I saw a sign directing me to the high point. There is a sign on Arba Rd. giving directions.
From the sign, it was just a couple more minutes to the highpoint. While I was there, a van of older people (it was a group from an old folks home) stopped by. They were upset that they couldn’t walk to the highpoint because they were unable to cross the fence. So, the nurse and driver climbed over the fence and took the registry to the van to let them sign it. I snapped a few pictures, signed the registry and headed out – I was trying to make Charles Mound in Illinois that same day.