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Maples, oaks and more put on their annual fall spectacular at locales near and far

Looking to take in some gorgeous fall foliage?

You can drive to a botanic garden or spend part of a day on a national scenic byway (see sidebar). But there's also plenty of beauty close to home, said Linda Painter, DuPage County Forest Preserve District 3 commissioner.

One of her favorite spots is Maple Grove Forest Preserve on Maple Avenue just west of Main Street in Downers Grove.

"It's very local for people in Hinsdale and Downers Grove and Oak Brook," she said. "You can go through the whole thing in a short period of time."

In addition to being convenient, the preserve features - as its name indicates - some of the most beautiful fall trees.

"The maples are some of the prettier colors when they change," Painter said.

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien is another spot Painter enjoys visiting in autumn.

"Waterfall Glen has a lot of variety of things throughout the preserve, but the prettiest area where there tends to be more color is near the waterfall," she said. "That's where the color is best in my opinion."

St. James Farm in Warrenville has alleys of maples and oaks that provide a post-card vista.

"It's very pretty and not everybody around here knows about St. James Farm," Painter said, adding that history of the property also might pique the interest of visitors.

Painter also enjoys taking photographs in nearby Fullersburg Woods and heading to Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago, where families can also enjoy harvesting corn and learning about farming.

Fall isn't Painter's favorite season - since it's the harbinger of winter - but she appreciates its brief brilliance.

"It's gorgeous right now for a couple of weeks," she said. "Unfortunately fall doesn't last long enough. I guess that's what makes those couple of weeks very special. The beauty of fall is short-lived."

With the need for social distancing due to COVID-19, more people than ever are taking advantage of forest preserves, Painter said.

"We have numbers this year that are just unbelievable. It's outdoors and not everybody is able to do so many things that they are used to doing," she said. "I think we have fulfilled an outlet for people that has been really important during this pandemic."

Author Bio

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean