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It's Time to Pick up the Pace in the 'Woods Walk' Challenge

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Photo by Anthony Schalk

The temperatures may have dipped, but there is still plenty of pretty fall color to absorb, wildlife to observe and calories to burn as you complete your 2020 “Woods Walk” challenge.

Participants have until November 30 to complete the self-paced hiking challenge, with a December 31 deadline to submit the travel log portion of your hiking guide.

If you started to tackle the list of 10 trails when the challenge began on September 1, but have slowed your pace, that’s OK. Just gear up and get outside to finish before the deadline. 

If you haven’t started yet, go to to get rolling. You can log your progress online by checking off the trails you’ve completed. 

This annual self-paced hiking program is always a favorite, but this year, more than ever, the program is perfect for those who want to get outside for new adventures while social distancing. 

Here’s how it works: Hike at least seven of 10 pre-selected Forest Preserve trails, turn in your travel log and receive a collector’s hiking medal for your hat, backpack or walking stick. This year’s medal design honors the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the state's Tier 3 mitigation efforts, all Forest Preserve visitor centers will be closed after 4 p.m. Friday, November 20, until further notice. So travel logs cannot be turned in after that point at the visitor center sites. 

Instead, completed travel logs can be mailed to the Sugar Creek Administration Center, 17540 W. Laraway Road, Joliet, IL 60433. They can be submitted online at Or photos can be taken of travel log pages or they can be scanned and emailed to

So far, around 600 people have participated in the 2020 “Woods Walk" program, said Ben Hecke, the Forest Preserve’s community partnerships coordinator.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has gotten more people out and moving and we've seen increased usage across all our trail systems," Hecke said.


This year's “Woods Walk” challenge trails are:

  • Centennial Trail – Schneider’s Passage, 3.02 miles
  • DuPage River Trail, Whalon Lake, 2.06 miles
  • I&M Canal State Trail, Lower Rock Run Preserve – I&M Canal Access, 2.96 miles
  • I&M Canal Trail, Joliet Iron Works Historic Site, 3.04 miles
  • Kankakee Sands Trail, Kankakee Sands Preserve, 2.97 miles
  • Old Plank Road Trail, Hickory Creek Preserve – Hickory Creek Junction, 3 miles
  • Plum Creek Greenway Trail, Plum Valley Preserve – Burville Road Access, 2.04 miles.
  • Spring Creek Greenway Trail, Hadley Valley Preserve – Bruce Road Access, 3.02 miles.
  • Spring Creek Greenway Trail, Messenger Marsh, 2.47 miles.
  • Wauponsee Glacial Trail, Sugar Creek Preserve, 3.04 mile.

Look for “Woods Walk” signs along designated trails and bring your camera along to snap photos that could be entered in the District’s Preserve the Moment photo contest.

Hiking guides can be picked up at five Forest Preserve visitor centers: Four Rivers Environmental Education Center in Channahon, Isle a la Cache Museum in Romeoville, Monee Reservoir in Monee Township, Plum Creek Nature Center in Crete Township, and Sugar Creek Administration Center in Joliet.


To receive your collector's medal, completed travel logs must be submitted by December 31. For instructions or more details, pick up a hiking guide or visit the online hiking guide site.

“Woods Walk” is sponsored by The Nature Foundation of Will County.


Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to The Citizen, our weekly digital newsletter that provides subscribers with updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family. If you're only interested in programs, subscribe to The Weekly Five, which outlines the five must-do programs each week. Signing up for either newsletter is easy and free of charge.


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