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Forest Preserves of Cook County Announces Winter Schedule

Monday, November 23, 2015
Special to
by Cook County Forest Preserve District

Forest Preserves of Cook County Announces Winter Schedule

Wintertime brings numerous family-friendly ways to get outdoors to enjoy the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Forest Preserves visitors can experience fun activities including sledding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and more.

Throughout the winter, visitors can enjoy cross-country skiing in all parts of the Forest Preserves, except for golf courses and nature centers, from sunrise to sunset. Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, 12545 W. 111th St. in Lemont, offers a complete Nordic Ski Program, including groomed trails, equipment rentals and beginner lessons.

For those looking to try something new, snowshoeing events will be offered at many Forest Preserves locations. Visitors can enjoy snowshoeing lessons, hikes and more. For a calendar of snowshoeing events, visit

The Forest Preserves offers nine different sledding and coasting hills for the 2015-2016 season. Dan Ryan Woods, Caldwell Woods, Deer Grove Picnic Grove #5, Westchester Woods and Pioneer Woods offer sledding with lighting from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Indian Hill Woods, Indian Road Woods, Schiller Woods and Deer Grove Picnic Grove #4 offer sledding without lighting from 10 a.m. to sunset. To learn more, visit

Our six Nature Centers are a great place for free educational fun along with a number of other events and activities which are planned in the preserves throughout the season. With nearly 70,000 acres of land and various habitats such as forest woodlands, wetlands, prairie and savanna, winter also provides an excellent opportunity to bird and wildlife watch, practice photography, and appreciate the variances of Cook County’s different landscapes under a soft blanket of snow.

For a complete list of winter activities, locations and rules, visit


Stars, Stories and S’mores

Bring the whole family to enjoy an evening in the woods with a fire, storytelling, snacks and other nature activities.

Thursday, Dec 3 • 5 – 8 pm

Caldwell Woods, 6350 W Devon Ave, Chicago

Christmas Past

Visit our pioneer cabins as we celebrate this joyous time of year in a simpler way with homemade toys, chestnuts roasting and popcorn popping in the open fire. Everyone is invited to make a craft to take home.

Sunday, Dec 6 • 11 am – 3 pm

Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 S Paxton, South Holland

Winter Breakout Adventures

Don’t let the chilly winter bring you down–embrace your time off from school and head outdoors. Youth and families, join us for snowshoeing (weather permitting), crafts using wood, winter bird migration, tracking and shelter building. Warm up with a campfire and s’mores. Come for the day or just for an hour. All activities offered on each day, weather permitting. For more information, call 708-386-4042 ext 26.

Monday, Dec 21 and Tuesday, Dec 22 • Noon – 4 pm

Camp Reinberg, 1801 N Quentin Road, Palatine

Winter Solstice Bonfire

Celebrate the shortest day of the year with a nature walk, bonfire and trimming of the wildlife tree. Family program; no organized groups please. In-person registration required starting 12/1. $3 per person.

Monday, Dec 21 • 7 – 8:30 pm

Little Red Schoolhouse, 9800 Willow Springs Rd, Willow Springs

Winter Exploration Days

Get outside and enjoy winter in the preserves. This is a great opportunity for the whole family to enjoy snowshoe nature hikes, cross-country skiing and sledding (weather permitting). We’ll also have winter crafts, a campfire and more. All ages.

• Saturday, Jan 9 • Noon – 4 pm

Caldwell Woods, 6350 W Devon Ave, Chicago

• Saturday, Feb 6 • Noon – 4 pm

Dan Ryan Woods, 87th & Western Ave, Chicago

• Saturday, Feb 27 • Noon – 4 pm

Rolling Knolls, 11N260 Rohrssen Rd, Elgin

• Saturday, Mar 12 • Noon – 4 pm

Thatcher Woods, 8030 W Chicago Ave, River Forest

Winter Wellness in the Woods

Be well and get active with winter-related activities while enjoying the benefits of nature. Learn how to dress for exercise in the cold, and join us for a brisk hike on the trails.

Saturday, Jan 16 • 9 – 11 am

Swallow Cliff Stairs, 10267 Calumet Sag Rd, Palos Hills

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

Join us for a day of stewardship and service. Help staff remove invasive plants that threaten the health of our forest preserves. Also, enjoy a variety of fun, family-friendly wintertime activities.

Monday, Jan 18 • Noon – 3 pm

Dan Ryan Woods, 87th & Western, Chicago

Surf the White Winter Wave

Join us for a Polynesian take on winter. After skiing the “frozen wave,” relax and enjoy surfing videos and live updates on surf conditions from Oahu’s North Shore. Dress Hawaiian and win a prize.

Saturday, Jan 23 • 9 am – 3 pm

Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, 12545 W 111th St, Lemont

Birch Leggings and the Birkie

Bring out your wooden skis and wool knickers. Learn the history of the Birkebeiner Ski Race and how it became the greatest ski race.

Saturday, Feb 13 • 9 am – 3 pm

Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, 12545 W 111th St, Lemont

Darwin Celebration Days

Celebrate Charles Darwin’s birthday! Join us as we explore adaptation, fitness, selection and survival through activities and displays. Drop-in program for adults and families.

Saturday, Feb 13 and Sunday, Feb 14 • 11 am – 3 pm

Trailside Museum of Natural History, 738 Thatcher Ave, River Forest

Black History Month: Underground Railroad Hike

Join us to learn about Black History with an educational display and interactive history hike. An imaginary journey follows an Underground Railroad route used in Illinois in the mid-1800s.

Sunday, Feb 28 • 11 am – 3 pm

Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 S Paxton, South Holland


Snowshoe Trekking

There’s no better way to experience the preserves in the winter than by snowshoe. Come out and try our snowshoes (conditions permitting) for free. Open to the public. No registration required. Check for snow conditions and updates. Snow conditions at each campground will be updated by 9 am on these Saturdays.

• Saturday, Jan 16 & 30 • 10 am – 4 pm

Camp Sullivan, 14630 Oak Park Ave, Oak Forest


• Saturday, Feb 13 & 27 • 10 am – 4 pm

Camp Bullfrog Lake, 9600 Wolf Rd, Willow Springs


Third Thursdays (series)

This monthly series explores nature, art and more. For more information, call 312-415-2970 or email

• Solstice Sunrise Celebration

Help us welcome the sunrise with a fire and celebration as we approach the shortest day of the year. All ages.

Thursday, Dec 17 • 6:30 – 8:30 am

Cummings Square, 536 N Harlem Ave, River Forest

• A Stroll in the Snow

Explore beautiful Thatcher Woods. Learn about plants and animals in winter, and try snow painting. Snowshoeing activities are weather permitting, and equipment is limited. All ages are welcome, but snowshoes are recommended for ages 6 and up.

Thursday, Jan 21 • 1 – 4 pm

Thatcher Woods, 8030 Chicago Ave, River Forest

• Animal Tracking: Print, Pattern and Place

Join us as we investigate who’s been visiting our local preserve. Learn about the habits and adaptations of animals in winter, and make your own animal track to take home. All ages.

Thursday, Feb 18 • 10 am – Noon

Cummings Square, 536 N Harlem Ave, River Forest

Outdoor Adventures

Calling all outdoor adventurers: meet up for outdoor skill building, exploring, hiking, nature-based art making and more. Call 312-533-5751 to reserve your spot. All ages.

• Winter GPS Hunt

It can be difficult to find your way around a bare winter forest. Learn the benefits of a field GPS unit and how to use one. Then test your new skills on a coordinate-based scavenger hunt.

Wednesday, Dec 9 • 4:30 – 6:30 pm

Dan Ryan Woods, 87th & Western, Chicago

• Twig-Tac-Toe

The forest is full of natural materials you can use to make your own fun. We’ll start with an exploratory hike. Then we’ll use imagination to create games and activities to try next time you’re out in nature.

Wednesday, Jan 27 • 4 – 6 pm

Thatcher Woods, 8030 W Chicago Ave, River Forest

• Tracking Nature

Join us as we investigate different habitats and look for native animal tracks. We’ll play games, go on an investigative hike, and create our “own” tracks using a print-making process.

Wednesday, Feb 24 • 5 – 7 pm

Caldwell Woods Warming Shelter 6350 W Devon Ave, Chicago

Photo Meet-Ups (series)

This monthly series is led by a naturalist and will highlight a natural area with scenic vistas, interesting plants and wildlife. For all photographer levels and camera types.

• Saturday, Dec 26 • 10 am

Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 Paxton, South Holland

• Saturday, Jan 17 • 10 am

Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 Paxton, South Holland

• Saturday, Feb 6 • 10 am

Crabtree Nature Center, 3 Stover Rd, Barrington Hills

Winter Camping Workshops

Curious about winter camping? Want to try something different and develop new skills? Bring your family and friends out to learn the basics of winter camping. Activities include winter weather safety and layering, winter fire building, snow shelter building, winter nature activities and snowshoeing (conditions permitting). Free. No registration required.

• Wednesday, Jan 13 • 5:30 – 7:30 pm

Camp Reinberg – Dining Hall, 1801 N Quentin, Palatine

• Wednesday, Feb 10 • 5:30 – 7:30 pm

Camp Sullivan – Bunkhouse #2, 14630 Oak Park Ave, Oak Forest

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