Fall is the time of year when we yearn for the sounds of hiking boots crunching on a trail, or sneakers padding along on a paved path.
That’s why the Forest Preserve District’s “Woods Walk” comes at the perfect time of the year to enjoy cooler temperatures and the splendor of fall color. This popular hiking challenge is self-paced, so you can plow through the list of trails like a champ or mosey through the treks at your leisure.
The 2020 program began September 1 and runs through November 30. “Woods Walk” hiking guides will be available at the Forest Preserve District’s visitor centers. This year an enhanced digital version of the hiking guide has been posted at willcountywoodswalk.com. You can log your progress by checking off which trail you've completed and even submit your trail observations online.
Hike seven of this year’s designated trails and record the trips in your hiking guide to receive a collector's medal for your hat, backpack or walking stick. This year’s medal design honors the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
“People love Woods Walk because it takes them out of their normal routines and gets them to locations and sites they may not have ever considered visiting,” said Ben Hecke, the Forest Preserve’s community partnerships and outreach coordinator. “Participants are constantly amazed by the varied biological ecosystems that can be found in different parts of the county, including the savannas, prairies, forests, barrens and wetlands.”
Many loyal "Woods Walk" fans have tackled the challenge each year it has been offered.
"And they love to look back at their accomplishments over the years with their collection of participant medals,” Hecke added.
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.
DOWNLOAD A PRINTED VERSION OF THE GUIDE
To receive your collector's medal, completed trail 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.
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