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Aug 26, 2014

Free Nature Express Shuttle Service Returns


Fall is a beautiful season in the Forest Preserves of Cook County, when warm colors and cool air encourage everyone to get outside and enjoy nature.


“The autumn months are a perfect backdrop for the wealth of activities that are best enjoyed in the preserves, from hikes through groves of golden sugar maples, to relaxing paddles beneath a sky full of migratory birds. As always, our six nature centers provide countless opportunities to learn, explore and have fun,” Forest Preserves of Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle said. “We hope that families are inspired to experience everything the preserves have to offer this fall.”


As part of the ongoing effort to connect more people to their preserves, the Forest Preserves’ are once again offering the free “Nature Express” shuttle service from Forest Preserve headquarters in River Forest (536 N. Harlem Ave.) to some of this season’s most popular events in the preserves. Space on the bus is free, but must be reserved in advance by visiting Forest Preserve headquarters are easily accessible by the Green Line, CTA Harlem Bus #90 or PACE Bus #307 or #305. The Nature Express is funded by the Forest Preserve Foundation.


All Forest Preserves events are family-friendly and free unless otherwise noted. For a complete list of fall events in the Forest Preserves of Cook County, visit




A River Thru History, Des Plaines Valley Rendezvous

Saturday, Sept 6 • 10 am – 5 pm & Sunday, Sept 7 • 10 am – 4 pm

Columbia Woods, Willow Springs Rd south of German Church Rd, Willow Springs

Look back 200 years to frontier life and enjoy food, music, crafts, reenactments, canoe races, games and more. Park free at UPS parking lot at Willow Springs Rd and 75th St and take the shuttle bus. Adult admission $10. Free for kids under 6. Cash only. Visit for more info.


Fishin’ Buddies Fall Fishing Derby

Saturday, Sept 13 • 8 am – 2 pm

Wampum Lake, I-90/94 & Thornton Lansing Rd, Thornton-Lansing

This annual family fishing derby is perfect for all skill levels. Register at


61st Annual American Indian Pow Wow

Saturday, Sept 13 • 10 am – 8pm; Grand Entries at noon and 6 pm

Sunday, Sept 14 • 10 am – 5pm; Grand Entry at noon

Busse Woods South, Higgins Rd east of I-290, Elk Grove Village

This event features Native American dance, drumming, food, art wares, films and fun. Don’t miss traditional dance competitors from all over the country! In partnership with the American Indian Center of Chicago. Admission $10 – 15.


Archaeology Day

Saturday, Sept 20 • 10 am – 3 pm

Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 S. Paxton, South Holland

Join us for activities that promote a better understanding and appreciation of historic Native American culture. Enjoy archaeology displays, guided hikes, activities and crafts.


Art in Nature

Sunday, Sept 21 • 10 am – 4 pm

Crabtree Nature Center, 3 Stover Rd, Barrington Hills

Watch artists as they paint along our trails. Listen to live music, view additional artwork for sale and vote for your favorite artist. Adults and kids, learn to create your own artwork—materials and instruction provided.


Hike and Seek

Saturday, Sept 27 • noon – 3 pm

Bemis Woods, Ogden Ave and Wolf Rd, Western Springs

Explore nature trails with fun activities, learning stations and a scavenger hunt. Hosted by the National Wildlife Federation. Fee and registration required. Visit for more info.


49th Annual Arts and Crafts Fair

Sunday, Oct 5 • 9 am – 5 pm

Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center, 9800 Willow Springs Rd, Willow Springs

Artists of all kinds, from painters to carvers to photographers, will sell their creations that have been inspired by local nature.


Chicago Portage Days

Saturday, Oct 11 • 9 am – 3 pm

Ottawa Trail Woods, 7200 W 47th St, Lyons

Don’t miss costumed living-history demonstrators as we explore the “Plymouth Rock” of Chicago. Exploration parties leave every 15 minutes. In partnership with Friends of the Chicago Portage. Admission $3 – 7.  Visit for more info.


Fall Festival

Sunday, Oct 19 • 10 am – 4 pm

River Trail Nature Center, 3120 N. Milwaukee Ave, Northbrook

Join us as we celebrate the season with a special day of autumn fun! Beekeeping demos, pumpkin painting, honey sales, hay rides and more.


An Evening at Trailside

Friday, Oct 24 • 5 – 8 pm

Trailside Museum of Natural History, 738 Thatcher Ave, River Forest

Get up close and personal with your neighborhood nature center. Sample a variety of programs and crafts, chat with naturalists and get an up-close view of our furs and skulls collection. A rare “behind-the-scenes” program will show you how we prepare food for our display animals. Light refreshments will be served.


Leave No Child Inside: Family Fun Day!

Saturday, Oct 25 • 11 am – 2 pm

Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 S. Paxton, South Holland

Spend some time outside with the kids and have fun with our naturalists. Enjoy activities and games, obstacle course, nature scavenger hunt and more.


Green Holiday DIY

Saturday, Nov 15 • 11 am – 1 pm

Cummings Square, 536 N Harlem, River Forest

Learn to green up your holiday gift giving, wrapping and decorating. We’ll have supplies on hand, but bring any old items you’d like to transform into something new.


42nd Annual Settlers’ Day 

Sunday, November 23 • 10 am – 3 pm

Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 S. Paxton, South Holland

Celebrate our heritage by stepping back into America’s past. Don’t miss costumed living-history demonstrators, hikes, crafts and an imaginary wagon train adventure! Admission is free, though donations of nonperishable food or money, to benefit a local food depository, will be gratefully accepted.



Family Night Out: Stars, Stories and S’mores (series)

Bring the family and enjoy an evening in the forest. We’ll have a fire, storytelling, snacks and other nature activities.

• Saturday, Sept 27 • 6 – 9 pm

Thatcher Woods, 8030 W Chicago Ave, River Forest


• Friday, Oct 10 • 5 – 8 pm

Dan Ryan Woods, 87th and Western, Chicago


• Saturday, Nov 1 • 4 – 7 pm

Eggers Grove, 11201 S Avenue B, Chicago


• Thursday, Dec 4 • 5 – 8 pm

Caldwell Woods Warming Shelter, 6350 W Devon Ave, Chicago


Wellness in the Woods (series)

Reap the benefits of exercising outside in nature. These workouts include heart rate monitoring, circuit and interval training, simple stretching tips, dance and more. All ages. Call 708-771-1023 to register.

• Tuesday, Sept 16 • 5 – 7 pm

Rolling Knolls, 11N260 Rohrssen Rd, Elgin


• Tuesday, Oct 14 • 7 – 9 am

Swallow Cliff Stairs, 10267 Calumet Sag Rd, Palos Hills


• Sunday, Nov 30 • 10 am – 12 pm (post-Thanksgiving workout)

Caldwell Woods, 6350 W Devon Ave, Chicago



Discover the ancient art of archery! Pre-registration required for all workshops. Call 708-771-1010 to reserve a spot. Space is limited.

Afterschool Archery

Relax and refocus after school. Instruction and equipment provided. Ages 10 & up. Parents welcome.

• Wednesday, Sept 10 • 5 – 7 pm

Thatcher Woods, 8030 W Chicago Ave, River Forest


• Tuesday, Oct • 5 – 7 pm

LaBagh Woods, Grove 1, Cicero and Foster, Chicago


• Wednesday, Nov 5 • 5 – 7 pm

Rolling Knolls, 11N260 Rohrssen Rd, Elgin


Friday Night Archery

Friday, Oct 3 • 5 – 7:30 pm

Eggers Grove, 11201 S Avenue B, Chicago

Open to all levels of experience, beginner to expert. Learn from an instructor, share tips and practice your skills. Ages 10 & up. Pack a picnic dinner and stay awhile.


Family Archery and Exploration Day

Saturday, Nov 8 • 1 – 4 pm

Dan Ryan Woods, Grove 5, 87th and Western, Chicago

Bring the family to enjoy nature. Hike, learn about animals and try your hand at archery. All ages. Age-appropriate equipment available for kids under 10.



Experience nature from the water. Bring your own canoe or use one of ours. Limited number of boats available. Call 708-771-1010 to reserve a spot.

Saganashkee Slough Paddle

Saturday, Sept 20 • 10 am – 1pm

Saganashkee Slough Boat Launch, 11672 W 107th St, Lemont

Join our morning paddle as we take a look at the diverse habitats of this area. Instruction provided.


Fall Paddle at Powderhorn Lake

Powderhorn Lake, 13843-14387 S Brainard, Burnham

Saturday, Oct 4 • 1 – 5 pm

Enjoy the fall season on the water! We’ll have a 10-passenger voyager canoe, guided hikes, and pumpkin painting.


Fall Paddle at Skokie Lagoons

Tower Road Boat Launch, Tower Rd east of I-94, Northfield

Saturday, Oct 18 • 1 – 5 pm

Come paddle with us, check out our 10-passenger voyager canoe and enjoy guided hikes and pumpkin painting.




Calling all outdoor adventurers ages 7–12! Meet up for outdoor skill building, hiking, exploring and nature-based art making. Call 708-771-1010 to reserve a spot.

Tracking Nature

Wednesday, Sept 24 • 5 – 7 pm

Dan Ryan Woods Pavilion, 87th and Western, Chicago

Join us to investigate different habitats and look for native animal tracks. We’ll play games, hike and create our “own” tracks using a print-making process.


Camping Skills

Wednesday, Oct 22 • 5 – 7 pm

Pulaski Woods, 9800 Wolf Rd, Willow Springs

Learn how to set up and take down a tent, what to pack when you go camping, how to cook over a fire (hot dogs included!) and more.


All About Fire

Wednesday, Nov 26 • 5 – 7 pm

Thatcher Woods, 8030 W Chicago Ave, River Forest

Discover the benefits of fire and what it can do for our land. Learn safe practices for fire building and containment, and make your own fire!



Friends of the Forest Preserves presents a series of free activities exploring the Calumet Region. All event participants will receive a laminated brochure showing plants and animals common to the forest preserves. These activities are supported in part by NOAA and the llinois Coastal Management Program.

All events are free but registration is required. Space is limited. Register at or call 312-356-9990. Helmets are required for kids under 14 for the bike riding events.

Family Fishing Event (with Fishin’ Buddies)

Saturday, Sept 6 • 10 am – 2 pm Registration begins at 9 am.

Wolf Lake, 12949 Avenue O, Chicago

Fishing rod and tackle will be provided to use and keep.


Paddle Powderhorn (with Friends of the Chicago River)

Saturday, Sept 20 • 10 am – noon

Powderhorn Lake, 13843-14387 S Brainard, Burnham

Perfect for beginner paddlers. Free binoculars provided for all participants.


Bike-and-Volunteer on the Major Taylor Trail (with Friends of Major Taylor Trail)

Saturday, Oct 4 • 9 – 10 am (biking), 10 am – noon (stewardship activities)

Dan Ryan Woods, 91st and Prospect Square, Chicago

Bike with us from Dan Ryan Woods to Whistler Woods, then participate in stewardship activities at Whistler.


Paddle Powderhorn (with Friends of the Chicago River)

Saturday, Oct 18 • noon – 2 pm

Powderhorn Lake, 13843-14387 S Brainard, Burnham

Free binoculars provided for all participants.


Photo Meet Ups (series)

The Forest Preserves of Cook County hosts a series of photo meet-ups for photographers of all skill levels. Each month, one of our naturalists will lead a brief tour of a natural area, highlighting interesting plants, scenic vistas and locations frequented by wildlife. Capture images and share tips with fellow photographers. All camera types are suitable–from SLR to point-and-shoot to smart phone.

• Saturday, September 27 • 10 am

River Trail Nature Center, 3120 N Milwaukee Ave, Northbrook


• Saturday, October 25 • 10 am

Thatcher Woods, 8030 Chicago Ave, River Forest

Hosted by the Trailside Museum of Natural History.


• Saturday, November 22 • 10 am

Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, 12545 W 111th St, Lemont

Canyon tour possible.


Third Thursdays (series)

This monthly series explores nature, art and more. Call 708-771-1373 for more information.

Cummings Square, 536 N Harlem Ave, River Forest

Forest Jams: Steckman Studio

Thursday, Sept 18 • 5:30 – 8 pm

Enjoy the sounds of Outloud After School Performers and Low End Theory. Jam with the musicians using instruments made out of natural and recycled materials.


Fall Looms

Thursday, Oct 16 • 4 – 7 pm

Weave with plants, fabric and paper. Make a loom out of natural materials.


Project Passenger Pigeon: Lessons from the Past for a Sustainable Future

Thursday, Nov 20 • 5:30 – 8 pm

This year marks the centennial of the extinction of the passenger pigeon. Join us for a screening of “From Billions to None” and a discussion following the film.


Solstice Sunrise Celebration

Thursday, Dec 18 • 6 – 8 am

Help us welcome the sunrise on the shortest day of the year with a fire and live music.

Visit two of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County