New Year's Resolution: Check Out These Cool, January Nature Programs!

New Year’s Resolution: Check Out These Cool, January Nature Programs!

  • This article was written by Valerie Blaine, the nature programs manager for the Forest Preserve District of Kane County. You may reach her at

Too much feasting during the holidays? All the merriment taking a toll? Is cabin fever setting in?

Sounds like you could use a good walk in the woods! Nature is a tonic for those who’ve had too much couch time, too much kitchen time, too much screen time, and just plain too much of the holidays.

Jan. 1 — New Year’s Day Nature Hike

The FPDKC offers a lot of opportunities for a healthy dose of nature in 2017, beginning with the annual New Year’s Hike at LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve. The guided walk will begin bright and early at 9 a.m. at Creek Bend Nature Center. All ages are welcome to this free, family-friendly hike. We’ll meet at the nature center, then head into the woods to greet the new year.

How did the (non-human) wildlife spend New Year’s Eve? Which animals are out and about on a winter morning? What tree is that? These are just the kinds of questions to ask on the first day of the year! During our hike, we’ll find answers to these questions as we search for animal tracks, learn how to identify trees in winter, and discover winter surprises. There will be coffee and hot cocoa in the nature center after the hike.

Jan. 9 — Trek With a Naturalist!

For adults who want to burn some holiday calories, check out our free “Trek with a Naturalist” hike from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 9 at Burnidge Forest Preserve in Elgin. Trek with a Naturalist is an ongoing program series for serious hikers, which features hikes at different forest preserves throughout the year. The goal of these “treks” is to cover a lot of ground while learning a bit about the preserve. This month’s hike is sure to be invigorating!

Jan. 13 — (Friday the 13th) Owls By Midnight Walk

Night-time walking in the woods is a special treat. The moon will be full on Friday, Jan. 13, and what better time for a walk in the woods to learn about owls? District naturalists and staff from the Geneva Public Library will lead this nighttime walk in search of owls. The program is free, and open to all ages. We’ll meet at Shelter #1 in Fabyan Forest Preserve, on Route 31 in Geneva, at 7 p.m.

During a walk among the big trees, we’ll tell tales of owls around the world, and learn about our local owls as well. If we’re lucky, we may catch a glimpse of an owl or two. Please note that registration for this program is handled through the Geneva Public Library only. To register, call 630-232-0893 or and click on program and events.

Jan. 21 — Coyotes!

Next, we go from owls to coyotes for a guided hike from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, at Pingree Grove Forest Preserve. Coyotes are abundant in Kane County, and they leave lots of signs of their activity.  On this free guided hike, we’ll search for coyote tracks, scat, and other evidence of their activity. Along the trail, we’ll learn about wily coyote behavior and their role in ecology. All ages are welcome to this winter walk.

Jan. 29 — Winter Wildlife Hike

We wrap up our January hikes back at Burnidge Forest Preserve in Elgin from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 29. During this Winter Wildlife Hike we’ll search for signs of the many kinds of animals that brave the Illinois winter. How can you tell a fox track from a coyote track? Why is the bark rubbed off that tree? Where do insects go in the winter? You can learn the answers, and more during our hike. We’ll be going off trail during the program, so wear your boots! Advance registration is required. Please call 630-444-3190 or e-mail to register.

So, if you’ve slipped into holiday torpor, if you need to slough off some pounds, or if you just need some fresh air, come on out to the forest preserves.  A walk in nature is good for what ails you! For a complete list of our winter programs, visit