When snow comes to Cook County, grab your sled or skates and head out to the Forest Preserves. Or if you’re more interested in a quiet walk in the wintry woods, the Forest Preserves offers that, too. With more than 300 miles of trails, you can always find a new path to explore.
That includes cross-country skiing. All Forest Preserves trails are open to skiers, except for the golf courses and at the nature centers. And at the Sagawau Environmental Learning Center in Lemont, specially tracked and groomed trail loops offer beginners and experts a chance to cross-country ski across the preserve. And the site rents skis and offers lessons, too.
The Preserves have five sledding hills open until sunset and another four with lights for fun into the evening. There are 22 lakes and ponds where you can go ice fishing and six for ice skating. For more ideas—and hours, locations and rules—visit our Things to Do page.
Even when there isn’t any snow on the ground, there’s plenty to do in the Preserves. Winter is an excellent time to stop by one of the Preserves’ six nature centers to learn more about our native wildlife from a naturalist on staff or to join a scheduled event. This month there is everything from a winter wonderland walk to guided birding opportunities. Read more in this issue about the latest from the Preserves.
Winter also offers better conditions for the Forest Preserves to start large restoration projects, like at Somme Prairie Nature Preserve. It’s also the ideal time for birdwatchers to spot bald eagles. Finally, if giving back to your community was one of your New Year’s resolutions, take a look at some of our upcoming volunteer workdays or come out on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when the Preserves will hold its annual service day of stewardship and family-fun activities in Dan Ryan Woods. View the full list of opportunities on our Volunter page.
We hope to see you in the Preserves!
Toni Preckwinkle, President
Forest Preserves of Cook County