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'Woods Walk' Hiking Challenge In Full Swing

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Photo by Chris Cheng

Discover new trails or get reacquainted with old favorites this fall by joining the Forest Preserve District's popular "Woods Walk" program.

The self-paced hiking challenge kicked off on September 1, but there is plenty of time to participate because the program runs through November 30.

Hikers who complete seven of 10 designated trails during the three-month time period will receive a collector’s medal. This year's trail trips vary in length from 0.7 to 3.47 miles. Trails selected for the 2019 program are located in Channahon, Crest Hill, Joliet, Mokena, Monee Township, Naperville, Shorewood, Troy Township and Wilmington.

The program is a favorite among forest preserve fans because participants can tackle the trails at their own pace, and they reap many benefits by being outdoors, said Lynn Kurczewski, the Forest Preserve’s director of visitor services.

“There have been numerous studies on the benefits of walking in nature,” she said. “Walking in nature has been shown to reduce stress and depression, improve mental clarity and focus, and improve your overall mood more than when exercising in a gym or busy city environment. ‘Woods Walk’ provides the opportunity to experience those health benefits, both physical and mental.”

The program is taking place at a perfect time to get outside and explore nature, she added.

“It begins at a time of year when temperatures are cooler, mosquitoes are fewer and fall colors are at their best,” Kurczewski said.

The selected trails will help participants learn about preserves they might not have known existed, said Ben Hecke, community partnerships and outreach coordinator.

“'Woods Walk' is designed to get people out to each corner of the county and experience some of our most popular and most exotic preserves,” he said. “The program’s basic goal is to get you out of your comfort zone and out in the best nature Will County has to offer.”

To participate in the program, pick up a “Woods Walk” hiking guide. Guides can be picked up at four visitor centers: 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. You also can download the guide.

If you plan to pick up a hiking guide in person, check visitor center hours and holiday closures on our website before venturing out. For instance, Sugar Creek isn't open on the weekends and the other sites are closed on Mondays.

The guide features maps of each trail section included in the program and detailed location descriptions. A "Woods Walk" trail list is located in the back of the guide for participants to check off each trail walked. 

Once they complete their walks, participants can fill in the rest of the form and drop it off at one of the visitor centers listed above or mail it in to receive their collector's medal. An online form is available.




This year’s “Woods Walk” locations and round-trip trail lengths are:

1. DuPage River Trail, Hammel Woods – Route 59 Access, Shorewood; 1.28 miles.

2. DuPage River Trail, Riverview Farmstead Preserve, Naperville; 0.87 mile. 

3. Four Rivers Trail, McKinley Woods – Kerry Sheridan Grove, Channahon; 1.99 miles.

4. Hickory Creek Bikeway, Hickory Creek Preserve – LaPorte Road Access, Mokena; 3.47 miles.

5. Lake Chaminwood Trail, Lake Chaminwood Preserve, Troy Township; 0.7 mile.

6. Monee Reservoir Nature Trail, Monee Reservoir, Monee Township; 2.16 miles.

7. Prairie Bluff Trail, Prairie Bluff Preserve, Crest Hill; 2.26 miles.

8. Rock Run Greenway Trail, Theodore Marsh, Crest Hill; 2.93 miles. 

9. Spring Creek Greenway Trail, Hadley Valley, Joliet; 2.64 miles.

10. Wauponsee Glacial Trail, Forked Creek Preserve – Ballou Road Access, Wilmington; 2.29 miles. 

Bring your binoculars, field guides and a camera as you venture forth on the paths. “Woods Walk” signs will be placed along the designated trails. Be sure to take photos of unique nature scenes, which can be entered into the District’s Preserve the Moment photo contest.


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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