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'Woods Walk' Hiking Challenge Runs Through November 30

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(Photo by Anthony Schalk)

Stretch your legs and soak in the fall scenery during the return of the Forest Preserve District’s popular “Woods Walk” program.

The program kicked off Wednesday, September 1, and runs through Tuesday, November 30. Complete seven of the 10 pre-selected “Woods Walk” trails to receive a 2021 hiking medallion. Or hike all 10 for fitness and fun!

“Our annual Woods Walk program is a fantastic way to explore the county’s many trails,” said Jen Guest, the Forest Preserve’s recreation coordinator. “This year we really have a great mix of natural surface trails and hard surface trails. Each trail will lead you into nature to explore and be active.”

One of the District’s newest recreational paths, Normantown Trail, is making its debut on the list. The trail section included in “Woods Walk” begins at Vermont Cemetery Preserve in Naperville.

“This is a perfect time of year to check out the pioneer cemetery as you walk along its fence line,” Guest said. “The prairie plants will be somewhere between fall bloom and dying back for winter, which provides a less restricted view of the protected headstones.”


The “Woods Walk” program is perfect for beginners because all the trail sections included in the program are well marked, Guest added.

To participate in the free, all ages program, pick up a “Woods Walk” travel log at one of five 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.

Travel logs must be turned in by December 31 to receive a medallion. The logs can be submitted in person at a visitor center, mailed in to the Sugar Creek Administration Center or a log can be completed online. 



Trails range from 1.5 miles to 4 miles in length, and each trail offers its own unique experience. Participants are encouraged to bring their binoculars, field guides and cameras. If you snap some great nature shots during your "Woods Walk" treks, consider sharing them on social media or entering them into the Forest Preserve District’s Preserve the Moment photo contest, which runs through December 31.

This year's “Woods Walk” trails are:

  • Hickory Creek Bikeway to Old Plank Road Trail, Hickory Creek Junction: 3.22 miles round trip
  • Lake Renwick Bikeway, Lake Renwick Preserve – Turtle Lake Access: 3.6 miles round trip
  • Evans-Judge Nature Trail, Evans-Judge Preserve: 1.5 miles round trip
  • Normantown Trail, Vermont Cemetery Preserve: 2.95 miles round trip
  • Scout Trail to Plum Creek Greenway Trail, Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve: 1.5-mile loop (dogs are not allowed on this hike because portions of the route are located in a nature preserve)
  • Spring Creek Greenway Trail, Hadley Valley – Gougar Road Access: 2.62 miles round trip
  • Wauponsee Glacial Trail – Manhattan Road Access: 3.4 miles round trip
  • Thorn Creek Nature Preserve Trail, Thorn Creek Nature Preserve: 1.95 miles round trip (dogs are not allowed on this hike because this trail is located in a nature preserve)
  • Rock Run Greenway Trail, Theodore Marsh: 2.93 miles round trip
  • Trail of the Old Oaks, McKinley Woods – Frederick’s Grove: 1.5 miles round trip


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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