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Get Outdoors This Winter to Preserve Your Physical and Mental Health

Photo for: Get Outdoors This Winter to Preserve Your Physical and Mental Health

Photo courtesy of Gregory Hejner

While some people shift into hibernation mode during winter, there are many good reasons you should try to get outside during even the coldest months to enjoy all that the season has to offer.

In addition to burning calories, improving your cardiovascular system and strengthening your muscles, outdoor activity leads to the absorption of more sunlight. Those precious rays can help ward off Seasonal Affective Disorder, a condition that causes sadness and exhaustion due to the shorter days of winter.

Being outside in winter also gives you a greater chance of seeing wildlife foraging for food. Since there are fewer people in the preserves and there is less shrubbery, wildlife are easier to spot as they gather and hunt. Time spent in nature can reduce stress levels and help you clear your mind, and experiencing the winter weather firsthand will give you a better appreciation of the other seasons. Spending time outdoors in the winter landscape makes you appreciate even the tiniest spring buds.

If you need help figuring out how to enjoy winter, look no further. The Forest Preserve District schedules activities year-round!

Visitors can snowshoe, sled, cross-country ski or skate in designated preserve locations.


Plum Creek Nature Center, located within Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve, is the District's winter activity hub. Visitors may sled down Goodenow Grove’s 40-foot-high sled hill or tackle the preserve's many trails on snowshoes.

Sledding is allowed after December 1, weather permitting. Bring your own plastic or inflatable sled or rent giant inner tubes from the nature center for $2 per tube. If you need snowshoeing equipment, snowshoes also are available for rental for $10 per day. The nature center is open for rentals from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sundays.


Ice skating also is possible when conditions are right at a Goodenow Grove pond. Skates are not rented from the nature center, however, so bring your own. To check to see if there is sufficient snow cover for sledding or if the Goodenow Grove pond is sufficiently frozen for skating, call 708.946.2216.

Sledding also is allowed at Forked Creek Preserve – Butcher Lane Access in Wilmington, but is not supervised or monitored for snow conditions.

Finally, many forest preserve trails are open for cross-country skiing once they are snow covered. And if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate and the snow isn't flying, you can always hike a trail in winter.

If you’re looking for something else to do outdoors this season, peruse the District’s winter program offerings on the Event Calendar to find nature, photography and bird-watching hike options as well as upcoming volunteer workdays.


Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to our digital newsletter, The Citizen. Signing up is easy, free of charge and provides subscribers with weekly updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family.


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