6 Fall Hikes
Discover 6 sites with awesome fall color!
There is a buzz of excitement that comes with the changing seasons in McHenry County. One by one, the leaves on the trees catch fire in a sea of yellows, golds, browns and reds. They then release their hold and blanket the forest floor – another sure sign telling us to hasten, winter is coming.
There is but a short window of opportunity to appreciate and partake in nature’s preparations for winter’s fury, so capture this season with some purposeful outdoor activities.
McHenry County Conservation District has scouted the following sites to enjoy fall color. (Visit the site advisory page for temporary closings before you go.)
? Coral Woods in Marengo is a favorite fall colors hike by visitors who enjoy the blaze of red, gold, yellow and orange-painted hues that fill the trees and then carpet the forest floor throughout the 297-acre maple forest. Visitors can choose from a 1.2-mile foot trail that is more rustic in nature, the 1.2-mile mowed grass trail that leads through open meadow and forest, or the .4-mile maple sugar loop.
? Marengo Ridge in Marengo offers quiet, peaceful spots along a variety of looped nature trails ranging from .5-mile interpretive trail describing the natural history of the area to the 2.6-mile Kelly Hertel Nature Trail. The conservation area features ancient hardwood forest filled with oak, hickory and ash trees that are ideal for birding. Visitors also enjoy the aromatherapy of the pine forest planted years ago.
? The diversity of habitats at Hickory Grove Highlands and Lyons Prairie and Marsh in Cary creates a great refuge for wildlife and a favorite hiking spot for visitors. On the northern end, a .5-mile one way trail travels to the Fox River and guides a hiker along the river’s edge connecting with the Silver Creek Conservation Area for those looking for longer treks. To the south, a 1.2-mile looped trail runs through upland hickory forest and skirts the central wetland. Venture down the .8-mile eastbound extension which links to another 1.6-mile trail within Lyons Prairie where the backwaters of the Fox River offers a view of a variety of wetland, marsh and sedge meadow plants and wildlife.
?Glacial Park in Ringwood offers the most spectacular scenery and the most extensive trail network. Wander on the 1.1-mile Marsh Looped Trail that travels over a bog by boardwalk. Park at Keystone Road Landing and meander the .8-mile (one way) mowed trail that runs along Nippersink Creek to the river bridge. Follow the 1.2-mile Coyote Loop Trail or the more challenging 2-mile Deerpath Trail that offers an option to climb the steep hill of the Camelback Glacial Kames to view the panoramic view of the 3,200-acre site and the Nippersink Valley. Sit and breathe the air watch the hawks soar or listen to the sound of various waterfowl announcing their migratory departure.
? Experience autumn color as you hike through stands of hickory, white and red oak, and black cherry trees along a 1.5-mile interpretive hike or a longer 2.75-mile trail at Rush Creek in Harvard. Encounter a flurry of activity in the woods as squirrels and other rodents hoard nuts and seeds preparing for the onset of winter months. Sightings of Great horned owls, red-tailed hawks and woodpeckers will liven up your senses and lift your spirits
? Brookdale Administrative Center in Woodstock is a great spot to spy the reflections of color off the 11-acre pond. This 1,200-acre site offers a short, tree-lined paved trail (150 yards) that winds around the lake to a fishing bridge and picnic shelter. Ducks, geese turtles and herons are often seen along the shorelines. A longer 1-mile looped nature trail leads hikers to another pond overlook and interpretive signs, and then continues through hardwood and an old pine plantation.11