Central Six
(Highpointing through the Upper Midwest)

11-20 Jun 1999 - by Alan Ritter

Illinois -- Wisconsin -- Minnesota -- Michigan -- Ohio -- Indiana

Friday, 11 June

We left after work and drove to Bloomington, IL for the night. We dodged the worst of the thunderstorms, but did drive through some rain along the way.

Saturday, 12 June

We headed on north to Rockford, IL, then out west to Galena. After eating lunch in Galena, we meandered up to Charles Mound, the Illinois highpoint. Note that if you ask directions in Galena, you'll have much better luck if you ask about the old stagecoach road to Scales Mound, rather than asking directly about Charles Mound. The road at the north end of the village of Scales Mound is aptly named Charles Mound Ave., and takes you directly to the driveway leading up to the Wuebbels farm which contains the summit of Charles Mound. The GPS logged the location as 42deg 30.213' North, 90deg 14.381' West. We paused long enough to sign the summit log, shoot photos of each other, and of the USGS benchmarks marking the highpoint.

Our destination for the night was Wausau, WI, conveniently close to our next highpoint.

Sunday, 13 June

We drove north from Wausau to Tomahawk, and then west toward Timm's Hill, the WI highpoint at 45deg 27.045' North, 90deg 11.757' West. Once there, a pleasant wooded walk of less than 1/4 mile brings you to the summit, marked with a benchmark and occupied by a radio/fire tower and an impressive wooden observation tower. From the top, the view is expansive, and I shot a 360-degree set of slides from which to derive a panoramic image. Note: This is a 600k file and will take a while to load!

We continued north to Duluth, MN, for the night. In Duluth, the Army Corps of Engineers has a free maritime museum which chronicles the history of shipping on the Great Lakes. It is certainly a worthwhile way to spend a couple of hours before dinner.

Monday, 14 June

We left Duluth, headed for Grand Marais (pronounced Grand Ma-rays by the locals) and Eagle Mountain, the highpoint of Minnesota. Construction delays held us up, and it was lunchtime when we arrived in Grand Marais. We ate lunch at a spot called "My Sister's Place", and dropped Marcia at the motel so Nathan and I could do the highpoint.

Eagle Mountain lies within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness, so a day-use permit is required, These are available free of charge at the ranger station in Grand Marais. While there, be sure to ask for a copy of the trail map, the reverse side of which has a map of the otherwise ill-documented county roads which lead to the trailhead.

Once at the trailhead, the trail is easy enough to follow, with only one well-marked fork at the base of Eagle Mountain, proper. Virtually all the elevation gain comes in the last mile or so, and much of that is in the first few hundred yards up from the last lake you pass along the way.

We made good time, taking about an hour-and-a-half for the stated 3.5-mile trail to the summit at 47deg 53.849' North, 90deg 33.599' West. As mentioned by Roger Rowlett, the view from the summit, proper, is obscured, but there are several more expansive vistas visible from the trail just prior to the summit, from one of which I shot this panorama. Again, the VR panorama files are big...over 600k...so it takes a while to download.

Tuesday, 15 June

We left Grand Marais and cut across the top of Wisconsin to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We arrived in Baraga in time for dinner, having stopped at the Michigan line to pick up our usual official highway map, and to inquire about detailed and current information about the route to the trailhead for Mt. Arvon, the Michigan highpoint. We had various horror stories about a maze of logging roads and the difficulty of finding the proper trail, so were pleased to find that the Highpointers Club had provided a reprint from one of their magazines, along with a photocopied update which added further details.

Wednesday, 16 June

It was raining lightly when we woke up, but had stopped by the time we finished breakfast. We sat around for just a bit before hearing from Dan Johnson, another highpointer we had met on our hike up to the Arkansas highpoint in December, 1998. Dan lives in Minneapolis and had decided to drive over and meet us, having tried twice without success to find Mount Arvon.
Dan ran into the same construction delays that we had crossing northern Wisconsin, so it was after 11 a.m. by the time we headed from Baraga (Pronounce that "Bear-aga") back to L'Anse and on over to Mount Arvon. Between Dan's memory of his previous attempts, GPS waypoints and the more-detailed directions we had picked up at the tourist information center at the Michigan border, we managed to find the right set of old logging roads.
We really only took one wrong turn along the way. At one point, you drive through a gravel pit. As you enter the pit, you see two possible exit roads, both heading roughly in the correct direction. We arbitrarily chose the road to the left, only to realize a half-mile later that it was veering too far to the east, forcing us to back-track and take the other choice. About 50 yards into the woods down the right-hand exit road, there was one of the blue-diamond "Mt. Arvon" signs which was not visible from the depths of the pit.

According to the directions, we should have parked the car and walked a mile or so. However, we continued along gradually-deteriorating roads until I was worried that the Saab would run out of ground clearance and/or traction.

At that point, my GPS indicated we were just over 0.2 miles from the summit, so we had only a short walk along the final muddy track to the path which leads the last hundred yards to the summit marker at 45deg 45.330' North, 88deg 9.325' West, benchmark, and log book.

A few photos, and it was time to carefully turn the Saab around and make our way back to civilization. After lunch, we bade Dan safe travels back home to Minnesota, and spent the remainder of the afternoon wandering up to Copper Harbor.

Thursday and Friday,
17 and 18 June

Travel days...from the U.P. down to Clare, MI, on Thursday, then on to Findlay, OH, (with a short detour to visit a fellow Fiero fanatic near Saginaw, MI, along the way) as a convenient staging point for Campbell Hill, MI, on Saturday.

Saturday, 19 June

We left Findlay and continued south on I-75 to Lima, where we picked up Ohio 117 southeast toward Bellefontaine. Somewhere along the line, I missed a turn and we meandered quite a way along various county roads before rejoining OH 117. It then merges with US 33, a few miles before Bellefontaine. As we approached town, we found OH 540, and turned east for a short distance to the Hi-Point Vocational School.

The campus is not usually open on weekends, but there was some sort of picnic going on, so the gates were open. (The school will attempt to accommodate weekend highpointers if you call ahead to 937 599-3010 and make arrangements for access.) We drove up to the parking lot next to the maintenance buildings and soon found the highpoint benchmark at 40deg 22.242' North, 83 43.202' West and flagpole between two of the buildings.

From there, we returned to I-75, drove south to I-70 and turned west toward Indiana. A couple of miles into Indiana, we turned north onto Indiana 227 at Richmond. We continued north to Bethel. About 1/4 mile north of Bethel, we turned west (right) onto the county line road. From there, it is perhaps 1/2 mile to Elliott Road, which leads south. We passed a farmhouse on the right, and started looking for the stile over the fence surrounding the copse of trees on the right. Drawing a blank, we continued south another 1/4 mile to the next farm, where we found the farmer working in his barn. Obviously, he has learned that odd people with out-of-state plates have passed up the highpoint, so he merely points back to the trees and says that the path is in the south margin of the grove, which is why we missed it as we drove past the east side of the grove.

Note: The correct way to find the highpoint is to turn right into the margin of the cornfield just to the south of the grove of trees, park, and walk between 50 and 100 feet away from the road along the south edge of the grove. You will see a pile of rocks, and a few feet further from the road, a short path to the stile (provided by the Highpointers Club) over the fence, and the sign and cairn which mark the highpoint itself at 40deg 0.060' North, 84deg 50.932' West.

There is a logbook in a wooden box bolted to a tree nearby, to your left as you cross over the stile. We signed in the logbook, took a few summit photos, and concluded our highpointing for this trip.

Retracing our path back down to I-70, we continued west to Indianapolis for the night.

Sunday, 20 June

The trip from Indianapolis home to St. Louis was uneventful. We tallied over 2900 miles on the Saab and checked off another half-dozen state highpoints along the way.

Charles Mound, (1,235'), The Illinois High Point


Charles Mound, a few miles from the village of Scales Mound, lies near the Illinois/Wisconsin border in the far northwestern corner of Illinois.
For some reason, there are two USGS benchmarks at the Illinois highpoint, one dated 1935 and a newer one dated 1985.
The view from the highpoint overlooks gently-rolling fields. It is easy to see why this is Charles Mound, not Charles Mountain!


Hoosier Hill (1,257'), The Indiana High Point


Nearly at the limit of her tolerance for vertical exposure, Marcia managed to make it over the steel stile in style. The marker on one of the supports notes that it was provided by the Highpointers Club and installed in 1991.
No USGS benchmark here in Indiana, but this impressive hand-lettered sign and cairn mark the exact high point. The sign reads (not surprisingly) "HIGH PT."


Mount Arvon (1,979'), The Michigan High Point


The highpoint itself is rather nondescript, at the crown of a gentle rise. As is evident from the photos, it is heavily wooded, as is much of the surrounding area. What it lacks for grand vistas is more than made up for by the adventure of finding your way from known and documented roads along a winding maze of logging roads, many of which have been ill-maintained (if maintained at all!) over the years. The GPS definitely came in handy on this one, keeping us from making wrong turns at several points.


Eagle Mountain (2,301'), The Minnesota High Point


The high point, proper, is marked with this large plaque bolted to one of the granite outcrops. In an area as heavily glaciated as Minnesota was, only this very hard rock survived the bulldozer motion of the ice.

The afternoon we hiked up Eagle Mountain, it was cloudy, and had been drizzling on and off earlier, but stopped in time for our hike. Temperatures were in the low 60's, perfect for an afternoon walk. The only real downside (not surprisingly) were the swarms of the state bird of Minnesota, the mosquito!! Liberal use of bug repellent was certainly warranted.

The vantage point for this vista (one of the images which make up the VR panorama) is a few hundred yards from the summit, in an area where the granite outcrops on the side of Eagle Mountain prevent the trees from completely surrounding you. In the distance, you can see a few of Minnesota's 10,000 lakes. (Has anyone really counted them all to verify that claim?)


Campbell Hill (1,549'), The Ohio High Point


The campus containing the summit of Campbell Hill is marked with this brick sign. The "Career Center" is a vocational school and teaches such skills as cosmetology and auto repair.

The flagpole visible above the right-hand corner of the brick sign is at the actual highpoint, atop the final slopes of Campbell Hill.

The Ohio high point is marked by this impressive flagpole, with the USGS benchmark in the concrete and brick platform adjacent to the base of the flagpole. This being a drive-up, Marcia got into the act as she does on the easy ones, leaving the highpoints involving significant hikes for Nathan and me.


Timm's Hill, 1,951', The Wisconsin High Point


Timm's Hill is easily accessible within a county park. From the parking lot, the easy trail winds perhaps 1/4 mile up to the top of the hill. A slightly more rigorous climb will take you to the top of the observation tower and afford you a view above the treetops. If you follow highpointers' reports, you will note a suspicious similarity in our photos of the tower from the base. There is only a single spot from which you can see the whole tower through the trees, so everyone has the "standard" shot of the tower!
The benchmark is inside the base of the tower, so is shaded most of the day.


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