If you really want elevation and you can manage the drive, the Indiana Dunes has it. Brad Bumgardner, interpretive naturalist at Indiana Dunes State Park, recommends Trail 9, a 3-mile romp over blowouts — dunes opened and moved by wind — rising 100 feet above Lake Michigan and across forested dunes.
And if that's not tough enough, try Trail 8, which takes you over the three highest dunes in Indiana, one of which rises to 200 feet above the lake.
The distance is only about one mile, but it's a rugged mile. "It'll wear you out," Bumgardner promised.
For hills closer to home, try the Palos region, the massive preserve known for hills and ravines that draw mountain bikers from surrounding states.
Jim Chelsvig, education manager for the Cook County Forest Preserve District, recommends the orange-coded loop trail off Wolf Road Woods, a longer walk at 5.6 miles and a varied one.
The elevation change isn't extreme, "but it's rolling hills," he said. "There are some that will be probably 35-degree climbs. You'll know you're walking uphill. It'll get your pulse up."
And for pure cardio, you can detour to the stairs at nearby Swallow Cliffs, where the onetime site of toboggan slides has become a popular, and free, outdoor stair-climber.
To those picks, I'd add a few picks of my own. Glacial Park in McHenry County has impressive hills. And though the hills at the Spring Creek Valley Preserve in Barrington Hills aren't big, the cross-country ski trails off Beverly Lake are so charming and little visited that they are always on my list.
But the beauty of a Thanksgiving walk is that, really, any walk will do. Head to any nearby forest preserve or good-size park and wander. It doesn't have to get your heart rate up to do your heart good.
IF YOU GO
You can access the Lakewood Forest Preserve's lighted trail at the Winter Sports Area. Park on the east side of Fairfield Road south of Illinois Route 176. More information about Lakewood and the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve is at lcfpd.org.
Information about the Lakeshore Preserve near Highland Park is at openlands.org.
For information about Indiana Dunes State Park, visit in.gov/dnr/parklake/2980.htm, or call 219-926-1952.
Maps of the Palos region are available at fpdcc.com; choose Region 6: Southwest Cook County. Or pick up a color map, or, better, the full set of maps of the Cook County Forest Preserve system, at the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center.
If you want an organized fitness hike, Indiana Dunes State Park will have an After Turkey Day Hike starting at 10 a.m. Friday from the Nature Center.
And the Lake County Forest Preserve is holding Forest Fitness, a one-hour, fast-paced walk at 8 a.m. Saturday at Half Day Woods. No registration is required, but the cost is $1 for residents, $2 for nonresidents.