Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow
Winter sports enthusiasts hope for snow, freezing temps to enjoy outdoor activities
Last updated 12/22/2020 at 11:58pm | View PDF
The winter of 2020-21 will bring on a case of cabin fever the likes of which we’ve never seen before.
After living with the coronavirus pandemic for nine months, we’re ready for life to get back to normal.
If the weather will cooperate, some favorite winter activities can help us all get through these next few months. Several area parks and forest preserves offer the opportunity to take advantage of winter weather — once it arrives.
Cross country skiing
Hinsdale’s Katherine Legge Memorial Park, 5901 S. County Line Road, is a popular spot for skiers once enough snow falls.
More than 70 miles of groomed trails for cross country skiing are available at DuPage County forest preserves such as Fullersburg Woods in Oak Brook, Waterfall Glen in Darien, Blackwell in Warrenville and Danada and Herrick Lake in Wheaton. Visitors who aren’t classic skiers should use the inside of the trails to avoid damaging the set tracks.
In Cook County, people can hit more than 350 miles of ungroomed trails with their own skis or visit Sagawau Nordic in Lemont, a premier full-service cross country ski center with rentals, lessons and groomed and tracked trails. Ski rentals are available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and cost $15, $10 for seniors and $40 for a family. A lesson/rental combo is $30 a person. The center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather permitting, seven days a week through early March.
Anglers can ice fish at most forest preserves in DuPage County, although never at Spring Creek Reservoir in Bloomingdale. For more information, read the fishing guide on the forest district’s website. Many bodies of water in Cook County also have been designated for ice fishing.
The forest districts do not monitor ice conditions, so visitors go on the ice at their own risk. As a guideline — not a guarantee — there should be at least 4 inches of clear ice for any activity for one person; 8 inches of clear ice for a group.
The village-operated rink at Burns Field, 320 N. Vine St., will be set up when temperatures permit. Once frozen, barricades will be placed at the rink to signal conditions and online posts will be made on parks and recreation sites. The village needs four to six consecutive full days of weather below 32 degrees to begin freezing the outdoor rink.
Residents can check on the status of the rink on the village website at https://www.villageofhinsdale.org/departments/parks_and_recreation/field_and_facility_status or on Facebook @HinsdaleParks.
Due to COVID-19, the warming house will not be open this winter.
Ice skaters can skate on lakes at most preserves in DuPage County, except Spring Creek Reservoir in Bloomingdale.
See the ice safety guidelines listed above.
The hill at Madison School, on Madison Street near Sixth Street, is a popular spot for sledding in town.
Sledding is allowed at most DuPage County forest preserves, although never at Spring Creek Reservoir in Bloomingdale, Mount Hoy at Blackwell or the closed landfill sites at Green Valley and Mallard Lake.
Sledding hills in Cook County are open when the ground is frozen and covered with at least three inches of snow. Sledding hills with lights are staffed and open from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Lighted hills include Swallow Cliff Woods North near Palos Park (requires 6 inches of snow) and Westchester Woods near LaGrange Park.
The closest hill without lights is Pioneer Woods near Willow Springs. It is open from 10 a.m. to sunset daily.
The sledding hill at the Dan Ryan Woods Visitor Center in Chicago features a separate area for snowboarding. Call (773) 233-3766 for snowboard hill status.
Snowmobiles are allowed at four designated Cook County Forest Preserves under certain winter conditions: New Brown Meadow (part of Busse Woods) near Elk Grove Village, Morrill Meadow near Willow Springs, Turtlehead Lake near Orland Park and North Creek Meadow near Chicago Heights. Call the numbers listed on the forest district website for snowmobile area status.
Visitors can explore Blackwell and Fullersburg Woods in Oak Brook by snowshoe when there is enough snow on the trail. Rentals are available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Blackwell tubing hill (when open) and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Saturday at the Fullersburg Woods office. Call (630) 850-8110 for availability.
When there’s enough packed snow on the hill (usually more than 3 inches), thrill-seekers can snow tube down the 800-foot run on Mount Hoy at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Wheaton. Only district inner tubes are allowed.
If conditions permit, the hill is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Feb. 28, daily over winter break (Dec. 21 to Jan. 1) and on school holidays (Jan. 15, Jan. 18, Feb. 15 and Feb. 26). The hill is closed Dec. 25.
Inner tube rentals are at the base of the hill and are $10 per tube per day. Rentals end at 3:30 p.m.
Note: Under COVID-19 regulations, participants will be required to wear a mask covering their nose and mouth when interacting with forest district staff or other visitors and practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from non-family members.
Only 50 inner tubes will be allowed on Mount Hoy at one time. Tubes and snowshoes will be sanitized between use. Only credit card or cash (exact change only) will be accepted for rentals.