- Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by the Conservation Foundation.
It’s no secret that spending time outdoors enjoying the fresh air, the smells, and sounds of nature can be rejuvenating and very good for your physical and spiritual health.
Anyone wishing to partake of a little “Shinrin Yoku” or forest bathing this summer has a number of choices right here in Kane County.
As a way to promote the natural beauty of Kane County, the Kane County Advisory Council of The Conservation Foundation put together a list of their favorite nature walks. The Advisory Council is made up of local citizens, business people, ecologists, municipal and county staff, and Kane County Forest Preserve representatives. Here are their top 10 walks:
A long trail located throughout Kane County, the Fox River Trail has many access points, fantastic river scenery. It’s paved and goes through many public parks. You get to see all kinds of wildlife, and you can see different things each time you do the walk. It’s great to see the seasons change there, too.
A stunning place to take a walk in the spring. It is mostly shade with many wet areas so has a beautiful display of spring ephemerals. Though it’s adjacent to I-90, you feel like you could be far away from Illinois.
Features beautiful native displays and a delightful walk through a meadow-like area. Can also visit the adjoining cemetery with many old gravesites.
Visitors come to Bluff Spring Fen to witness the unusual land formations and the plant and animal life supported by the spring. Take a winding footpath up and around a gravel kame graced with rugged old bur oaks, delicate wildflowers, the melody of birds and subtlety of butterflies. Tranquility is as plentiful as the birds.
It has a series of marked trails of various lengths, a small but nice woodland with good spring wildflowers, a wonderful savanna trail with burr oaks and white oaks, and mesic and wet prairie.
Bonuses: wildflower gardens, picnic area, historic farmstead, and goats. Not well known, so not heavily visited.
There are two trails: one along the river and the other through the woods that meet at the boundary line of the Nature Preserve property and the Q Center campus so you actually do both coming and going.
For majestic red oaks, gorgeous uncommon wildflowers and abundant birds, you can’t go wrong. There’s been years of restoration work so it’s in good shape.
The natural features of Tekakwitha Woods include an oak-maple forest on the uplands, floodplain forest along the river, and restored prairie in former farm fields.
A network of foot trails winds through the fields and forested ravines of the preserve. In spring, the forest floor is carpeted with wildflowers and the trees are filled with birds. In summer, the wooded trails provide cool shade and enjoyable wildlife viewing. The autumn foliage is spectacular in the woods and on the prairie. Winter brings a stark beauty of its own and snowfall provides excellent wildlife tracking.
A great place to visit: there’s no road traffic noise to interrupt a truly peaceful walk in the woods.
It has great diversity, from oak woods to prairie to fen. Its trail is long enough and hilly enough that you can get a good workout and get away from crowds.
On the site are beautiful prairie and wetland restorations, and, in one area, a relocated remnant prairie.
Bonuses: rare wildflowers, nature center, labelled native plantings.
A premier destination for spring wildflowers and is a good place to hike at any time of year. You can hike up the mound on a paved road for a good workout, take a leisurely stroll through the woods, or a long hike through the restored prairie. It is a lovely place to really feel away from it all.
Dick Young Forest Preserve features some of Kane County’s finest wetlands, woodlands and prairie and is a great place for a nature walk. It has a wide variety of habitats, from marsh to oak woods to reconstructed prairie, large size, and good trails.
An excellent birding destination (including white pelicans!), it also offers a wide variety of wildflowers. It is a wonderful place to visit any time, but is a gorgeous prairie display in August and September.
The meadow/creek area from Ke-De-Ka Road to the Waubonsee Community College campus. This segment offers quiet open space among tall grasses (after leaving the woods of Bliss). It’s a place to be almost alone with nature, enjoying deer, indigo bunting mates, sandhill cranes, hawks, and countless wildflowers. The only chatter comes from the reigning redwing blackbirds. It’s a great area to either walk or ride a bike.
And deserving of an honorable mention:
A 2.5-acre restored prairie landscape bordered on the north by beds of prairie plants and a 2.5-acre wetland and wildlife habitat. This parcel is bisected by a stream. The adjacent Fine Line Creative Arts Center classes have used the prairie as a resource for class materials, including basketry, paper making and textile dyeing.
t also offers a beautiful site for plein air painting. While there, one can also view the artwork on display in the two Fine Line Buildings.
About The Conservation Foundation
The Conservation Foundation is one of the region’s oldest and largest not-for-profit land and watershed conservation organizations, with more than 4,000 members.
Founded in 1972, TCF has helped preserve more than 35,000 acres of open space, restored and cleaned miles of rivers and streams, and educated thousands of kids by engaging them in nature and the outdoors.
TCF’s mission is to improve the health of our communities by preserving and restoring natural areas and open space, protecting rivers and watersheds, and promoting stewardship of our environment.
Work is focused in DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will counties to preserve and restore nature in your neighborhood. Find out more at theconservationfoundation.org.