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Prepare for a Feast of Fall Color

Photo for: Prepare for a Feast of Fall Color

Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve (Photo by Chad Merda)

Gorgeous fall color is right around the corner in this neck of the woods.

The State of Illinois’ Fall Color Report predicts peak color will come the second week of October in northern Illinois. Leaves have already started to turn and cool nights ahead should accelerate the process.

So, if you are starting to plan a leaf peeping excursion, consider visiting some Will County forest preserves for a feast of colorful displays. Some of the hottest spots for fall color are listed below.

Suzy Lyttle, a program coordinator for the Forest Preserve said hiking is one of the best ways to experience fall color.

"My favorite thing, when hiking in the fall, is the raining leaves," she said. "I think it is so peaceful to see them gracefully float to the ground."

Often, the tree tops are even more colorful, she added.

"This is because they have more access to the sun," she explained. "The sun makes the leaves produce more sugars and the sugars bring out the pigments."


Weather and frost can affect the fall colors, however.

"In general, if we are too much in a drought it can delay colors," Lyttle said. "However, if it is too wet it can lower color intensity. For the best colors we like to see a fall with warm sunny days and cool, but not freezing, nights. With these conditions we will see more brighter reds.

"It looks like a little rain this weekend," she added. "Next week is all mostly sunny with highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s. So if it stays like that it should be great!"

Some of the best forest preserve spots for fall color excursions are:

Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve: The sled hill provides a good vantage point to view the large edge of the woods from up high. At Snapper Pond you can see the leaves reflected in the water and there is a good mix of trees. The Plum Creek Greenway Trail has several good locations including the big bridge and the trail portion south of Meadowlark Shelter, which features a field at the forest's edge.

Hammel Woods: Black Road Access is home to many sugar maples that will provide bright orange, yellow and red colors. The natural surface trail to the north of Hidden Shelter also makes for a colorful fall trip through the bluffs.


Hickory Creek Preserve: Hickory Creek Barrens Nature Preserve is stunning because of the rolling landscape of prairie in front of towering oaks. Behind the pavilion at Hickory Creek Junction, an open prairie provides a good sightline to the woodland edge, which displays vibrant color all the way along the bikeway to the creek.


McKinley Woods: The oaks in this preserve turn a dark maroon-brown color. There also are a few cottonwood and hickory trees that turn yellow. A good place to view the trees at this location is the Heritage Trail loop that is located next to Frederick's Grove Shelter in the lower parking lot.

Messenger Woods Nature Preserve: The oldest preserve in the District, Messenger Woods features many mature trees that put on an impressive fall color display.


Monee Reservoir: The silver maples, oaks and hickories that line the lake provide a good autumn show.

Raccoon Grove Nature Preserve: A large number of maple trees are mixed into the forest along the road and on the edge of the preserve, which provides a brilliant fall feast for the eyes. The oaks and hickories in the interior add to the colorful mix.


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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