While many may celebrate national Take A Walk in the Park Day on Tuesday, March 30, the Forest Preserves of Cook County has our own version: Take a Walk in the Preserves!
With hundreds of miles of paved and unpaved trails throughout the county, Forest Preserves visitors likely have their favorite go-to locations for relaxing walks or invigorating bike rides. But anyone interested in trying somewhere different will be able to explore new diverse habitats and beautiful scenery, and may spot a mix of different types of native plants and animals.
On March 30, consider exploring a new trail while you take a walk in the Preserves! Here are five recommended trails to check out:
Spring Lake (also called Spring Creek), located in northwest Cook County, offers the opportunity to do some real trekking over hills and valleys. With 4,000 acres to explore on more than 45 miles of winding unpaved trails, almost anywhere within Spring Lake feels like a secret spot. Here visitors can enjoy hiking, horseback riding and even cross-country skiing if conditions allow. Recognized as an Important Bird Area, visitors may spot a variety of birds including sandhill cranes, belted kingfishers, blue-winged warblers and orchard orioles.
Within the grounds of the popular River Trail Nature Center, located in Northbrook, are 1.5 miles of paved and unpaved walking trails weaving through floodplain forest, backwater wetlands, oak-hickory woodland, and an ancient remnant of sugar maple-basswood forest. Visitors can also connect to the more than 28-mile Des Plaines Trail System. While exploring the nature center grounds, visitors can also check out the outdoor animal exhibits and learn about some of the native species living in the Forest Preserves.
With a 2.3-mile unpaved loop trail, Arie Crown visitors can enjoy a natural setting of gently rolling hills and breathtaking beauty as they wind through the woods. Located in central Cook County, Arie Crown Forest also boasts Ida Lake, where visitors can drop a fishing line, and Sundown Meadow, which contains a variety of ecosystems including prairie and woodland.
Southwest Cook County’s John Husar I&M Canal Trail is located within the I&M Canal National Heritage Corridor, the first national park of its kind. Although the section running parallel to the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal is currently closed during construction of the Mile Long Bridge Project on the Central Tri-State Tollway, the 3.2-mile paved black trail remains open for use between Willow Springs Road and I-294.
Circling Vollmer Road Grove in south Cook County is the 3.6-mile paved black loop trail, featuring views of woods and wetlands. With access at either the Vollmer Road Grove lot near the intersection of Crawford Avenue and Vollmer Road or the Flossmoor Road Bicycle Lot near the intersection of Flossmoor Road and Birch Avenue, visitors can plan a peaceful walk with family and friends (including leashed dogs) or a bike ride. Cross-country skiing can also be enjoyed here when conditions permit.