Woods Walk is back, and this
year it's easier than ever
Our annual fall walking challenge is back for its 21st year, and we are making it more convenient than ever to participate. This year’s 10 Woods Walk trails are as follows:
- Centennial Trail: 5.99 miles
- DuPage River Trail at Hammel Woods — Route 59 Access: 3.41 miles
- Hickory Creek Bikeway at Hickory Creek Preserve — Hickory Creek Junction: 2.39 miles
- Hidden Oaks Nature Trail/DuPage River Trail at Hidden Oaks Preserve: 2.77 miles
- Monee Reservoir Nature Trail at Monee Reservoir: 2.23 miles
- Scout Trail/Oak Ridge Trail at Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve: 1.04 miles
- Spring Creek Greenway Trail at Hadley Valley — Gougar Road Access: 2.55 miles
- Spring Creek Greenway Trail at Messenger Marsh: 1.9 miles
- Trail of the Old Oaks at McKinley Woods — Frederick’s Grove: 1.05 miles
- Wauponsee Glacial Trail at Forked Creek Preserve — Ballou Road Access: 4.5 miles
People who complete seven of the 10 Woods Walk trails before Nov. 30 will receive a 2023 Woods Walk hiking medallion. The deadline to submit a paper copy of the completed travel log is Sunday, Dec. 31.
How to participate
Woods Walkers can track their progress in one of two ways. New this year is a convenient way to track and log your walks via your smartphone. Simply download the Goosechase app and join the Will County Woods Walk experience to get started. The app will have all the information you need to complete the 10 required hikes. This year, there is no online form for submitting your completed walks; the Goosechase app is the online submission component.
If you use the app, remember to check in at the designated spot for each trail to mark it completed in Goosechase. Once you've walked seven of 10 trails, you will receive an email asking for a mailing address so your medallion can be sent to you.
As in past years, walkers can pick up a travel log at one of five Forest Preserve visitor centers: Four Rivers Environmental Education Center in Channahon, Hidden Oaks Nature Center in Bolingbrook, Isle a la Cache Museum in Romeoville, Plum Creek Nature Center in Crete Township or Sugar Creek Administration Center in Joliet. It also can be downloaded online. You can track your progress in the booklet's travel log, which must be submitted by Sunday, Dec. 31, to receive the commemorative medallion.
All you need to get started on your 2023 Woods Walk adventure is a good pair of walking or hiking shoes, but we have a few suggestions to help you enjoy your experience and make the most of the walks.
- Dress for the weather. Fall can feel more like summer or winter, so be prepared for the weather when you head out on a hike. Check the forecast and dress appropriately. Consider layers if you are walking in the morning or evening, when temperatures can rise or fall quickly. And don’t forget the sunscreen.
- Bring plenty of water. No matter the temperature, it’s important to stay hydrated, even on short hikes. If you don’t want to carry a water bottle, look for one you can clip onto your clothing or a backpack. At the very least, make sure you have water waiting in your car.
- Bring your phone or camera and snap photos along the way to document your experience. If you have binoculars, bring them along so you can get a better look at the birds, insects and more you see in the distance. If you’re trying to learn more about the natural world, consider bringing a field guide — on birds, insects, wildflowers, etc. — to help you uncover more about what you are seeing in front of you.
- Have a plan and share it. If at all possible, don’t walk alone. If you are doing a Woods Walk hike alone, let someone know where you are going and when to expect you back. Have your phone with you when you walk, and make sure not to leave any valuables in your car.
Hit the trails
Walkers must complete seven of the 10 Woods Walk trails to complete the challenge and receive a commemorative medallion. Here’s a closer look at two of the trails you can choose to hike.
DuPage River Trail at Hammel Woods
This 3.41-mile there-and-back segment of the trail departs from the preserve’s Route 59 Access and travels north to the turnaround point at Crumby Recreation Area. Hammel Woods really shines when fall color is at its peak, so mid- to late October is perfect time for this hike. On this walk, you’ll be immersed in the colorful canopy.
Monee Reservoir Nature Trail
If you love hiking natural surface trails, you’ll enjoy this 2.23-mile round-trip hike. The trail begins with a short walk though a wooded area and then opens up along the water before taking you over the reservoir. During the walk, you’ll be able to see waterfowl and other birds in and along the water and may spot beavers, muskrats and other wildlife as well.