A fox snake. (Photo by Chad Merda)
If you like limbless reptiles, you're going to love the next few weeks. But if you're the type of person who runs the other way at the sight of a snake, you'll want to plan your trail trips accordingly, perhaps even taking an entirely different trail.
That's because cooler fall temperatures bring these beauties out in full force as the snakes in the preserves — including garter, fox and brown snakes — are actively seeking out sunlight to help them stay warm.
It's not that there are more snakes; it's just that they're much more noticeable because they are basking in whatever warm, sunny spots they can find.
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One place that's a particular hotspot for snake sightings in the fall is Centennial Trail, and this Flickr gallery proves it. At times, it can be our own miniature version of Snake Road at Shawnee National Forest in downstate Heron. The reason for this is simple.
Due to the Asian carp barrier wall, there is limited egress from one side of the trail to the other. Centennial Trail's pavement also provides the warmth the snakes are looking for.
They also prefer the smoother surface of the pavement here as opposed to crushed limestone, which is rougher and doesn't retain heat nearly as well.
So your chances of seeing snakes are much better at a place like Centennial Trail than, say, the Wauponsee Glacial Trail or Spring Creek Greenway Trail.
The Hickory Creek Bikeway also is a fairly prime spot for spotting snakes, particularly fox snakes. If you're traveling by bike, just be sure to slow your roll and yield to the snakes.
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