Take a walk in the woods

Forest districts offer numerous walks to meet varied interests

"And into the forest I go, to lose myself

and find my soul."

- John Muir

How many steps have you logged today?

At times, the number listed on our phone or watch seems to be more important than where those steps are leading us - and whether we are enjoying taking them.

With the arrival of spring and its temperate weather, the 26,000 acres and 145 miles of trails in DuPage County forest preserves and the 70,000 acres and 350 miles of trails in Cook County forest preserves are even more tempting.

Below is a sampling of offerings from the two forest preserve districts during April and May. We've focused on walks in this compilation, dividing them into categories so you can find the ones that appeal most to you.

Spending time in nature is good for us - even if we're not moving.

"Sitting in a natural area for just five minutes can make you feel more energetic and less stressed or depressed," the DPCFPD webpage states. "It's a simple prescription that is addictive in a good way. The better you feel, the more your brain will want you to get back out there again and again."

For more walks and outdoor programs, visit the websites listed in the sidebar. At this time, information indicates participants are required to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

Get some exercise

• Hike 3 to 5 miles through a DuPage County Forest preserve on one of the weekly Forest Hikes offered from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Mondays.

Walks will take place April 5 at Oldfield Oaks, April 12 at West Branch, April 19 at Greene Valley, April 26 at St. James Farm, May 3 at Meacham Grove, May 10 at Fullersburg Woods, May 17 at Timber Ridge and May 24 at Waterfall Glen. Participants must be 18 or older. The cost is $5 a person. Registration is required.

• Enjoy a Fitness Hike on a 6-mile non-looped trail through Brezina Woods near LaGrange Park at 9 a.m. Sunday, April 4. Fast walk and slower paced options will be available. Register online at https://brezinawoods.eventbrite.com or call (708) 386-4042.

Stop and smell the flowers

• Learn how to identify woodland and prairie wildflowers on a naturalist-led guided hike. The Spring Wildflower Walk is set for 10 a.m. Sunday, April 18, at Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center. The hiking pace is average to slow, and the program is for those 10 and older. Registration is required.

• Join a plant expert for a leisurely 1-mile walk through the woods to learn about spring wildflowers, including which varieties can be grown at home, during a Wildflower Walk set for 2 to 3 p.m. Thursday, April 22, at Fullersburg Woods. The program is for ages 18 and up and costs $5 per person. Registration is required.

Seeking enlightenment

The DuPage County Forest Preserve District is offering three meditation walks to help participants rediscover their center. The Breath of Fresh Air: Centering Meditation Walks will head in each of the cardinal directions, making stops for guided meditations, reflection and journaling.

Walks are set for 5 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 2, at York Woods; 1:30 to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 3, at Mayslake; and 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 27, at Fullersburg Woods.

Participants must be 18 or older. The cost is $15 a person. Register online or call (630) 209-9566.

These are for the birds

• Learn tips and tricks to identify birds while looking for migrating species on a guided Bird Walk for Beginners offered from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Fridays by the DuPage County Forest Preserve District.

Walks are scheduled for April 2 at Blackwell, April 9 at Danada, April 16 at Herrick Lake, April 23 at Salt Creek Park, April 30 at Greene Valley, May 7 at West DuPage Woods, May 14 at Lyman Woods, May 21 at St. James Park and May 28 at Timber Ridge.

The walks are for those 18 and older and cost $5 each. Registration is required.

• Take a walk through various habitats in search of birds making their way north during the Early Morning Bird Walk set for 7 to 8:30 a.m. Saturday, April 24, at Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center. Registration is required.

As the sun is setting

• Get some healthy exercise and enjoy the wonders of a DuPage forest preserve on a guided 3- to 5-mile hike. The Evening Forest Hikes are offered from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays.

Locations are West DuPage Woods on April 7, Hidden Lake on April 14, Oak Meadows on April 21, McDowell Grove on April 28, Springbrook Prairie on May 5, Meacham Grove on May 12, James "Pate" Philip State Park on May 19 and Herrick Lake on May 26. The cost is $10. Registration is required.

• Take a self-guided walk along a scenic 1- to 2-mile trail on a Lantern-Lit Night Hike Saturday, April 10, at St. James Farm or Saturday, May 1, at Wood Dale Grove. Walks leave every 20 minutes between 7 and 9:40 p.m. to allow for social distancing between groups. The program is for all ages; those under 18 must be with an adult. The cost is $10 per person. Registration through DPCFPD is required.

• Join a naturalist to hike along the trail, opening the senses to the tunes and wonders of the night during the Spring Sensory Night Hike at 8 p.m. Friday, April 23, at Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center. The hiking pace is average to slow and the program is for those 10 and older. Registration is required.

Author Bio

Author photo

Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean