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Natural Awakenings Chicago

Cure Cabin Fever: Head to the Woods

Feb 24, 2014 08:00AM ● By Megy Karydes

Photo by Megy Karydes, North Park Village Nature Center

With the threat of Polar Vortex III imminent, it’s hard to believe spring will ever arrive. Many of us are suffering from major cabin fever already but supposedly spring will be here soon. In the meantime, let’s just embrace and head outdoors (bundled up, of course). The Forest Preserves of Cook County has several daily programs and events at many of its locations, many of which are family-friendly and free.

“Spring is a time of new beginnings,” Forest Preserves of Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle reminds us. “Plants emerge, animals start families, hikers and bikers reappear. This spring, we invite you to head out to the Forest Preserves with your family and friends for a nature festival, photo meet-up, paddling tour or just a stroll along one of our many trails.”

New this year, the Forest Preserves is offering a free Nature Express bus from Forest Preserve headquarters in River Forest (536 N. Harlem Ave.) to select programs in the preserves. Space on the bus is free, but must be reserved in advance by visiting www.fpdcc.com/natureexpress or calling 708-771-1189. Forest Preserve headquarters are easily accessible by the Green Line, CTA Harlem Bus #90 or PACE Bus #307 or #305. The Nature Express is funded by the Forest Preserve Foundation.

“We realize that many Forest Preserves are difficult to reach by public transportation,” admits Forest Preserve Foundation Executive Director Shelley A. Davis. “The Forest Preserve Foundation is committed to supporting programs, like the Nature Express, that make the Forest Preserves more accessible to all of the residents of Cook County. We hope everyone will join us to enjoy the wonders of nature this spring.”

For a complete list of spring events in the Forest Preserve District, visit www.fpdcc.com/events. (All events are free unless otherwise noted).

MAJOR EVENTS

Winter Exploration Day

Saturday, March 1 • noon – 4 pm

Dan Ryan Woods Pavilion, Grove 5, 87th & Western, Chicago

Bring the whole family outside for one last day of winter fun! Try a variety of outdoor activities for all ages, including sledding and snowshoes (depending on conditions), fire, nature hikes, crafts, snacks and more.

 

Maple Syrup Celebration*

Sunday, March 23 • 11 am – 3 pm

River Trail Nature Center, 3120 N. Milwaukee Ave., Northbrook

Celebrate the arrival of spring with a special day of activities including crafts, games, tree tapping and maple syrup history.

*Nature Center Express bus leaves Forest Preserve Headquarters at 10:30am and returns from River Trail at 3pm

 

Rolling Knolls Forest Fun Day*

Saturday, April 5 • noon – 4 pm

Rolling Knolls Forest Preserve, 11N260 Rohrssen Rd., Elgin

Discover what’s coming to Rolling Knolls, the newest location for fun and learning in the preserves. Try disc golf, archery, nature play and more! Bring the whole family.

*Nature Center Express bus leaves Forest Preserve Headquarters at 11:30am and returns from Rolling Knolls at 4pm

 

Annual Earth Day Parks and Preserves Cleanup

Saturday, April 26 • 9 am – 2 pm

Whistler Woods, 480 Acme Dr., Riverdale

Help clean up the preserves in the morning, and then celebrate with fun activities, recycling, hikes and more. Register at earthdaychicago.com. In partnership with Friends of the Parks.

 

Arbor Day Celebration

Sunday, April 27 • noon – 4 pm

LaBagh Woods, 5400 N. Cicero, Chicago

Enjoy tree plantings, Kids tree climbing, tree ID, tree-caching, scavenger hunts, art projects and more.

 

Spring Festival

Sunday, May 4 • 10 am – 3 pm

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

Celebrate spring with a day of activities for all ages, including guided hikes, dip netting, a meet-and-greet with our newest animal, animal encounters, craft corner and much more.

 

International Migratory Bird Day Festival

Saturday, May 10 •  7:30 am – 3 pm

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

Spend the day celebrating migratory birds as they travel north to their breeding areas. Learn simple ways to identify and protect these birds by visiting our Tip Stations. Answer the question “Why do birds matter?” by learning about the American robin.

 

International Migratory Bird Day

Saturday, May 10 • noon – 4 pm

Crabtree Nature Center, 3 Stover Rd, Barrington Hills

Celebrate the return of birds to their breeding range with an afternoon of activities.

 

Nature Block Party: A Celebration of Biodiversity* 

Saturday, May 17 • noon – 4 pm

Eggers Grove, 11201 S. Ave. B, Chicago

Discover the flora and fauna of the urban preserves with restoration activities, bird hikes, tree hikes, biking and more. Nearby Powers Recreation Area will be open for additional activities. Part of Urban Biodiversity Week, May 11-18. More at urbanbioweek.illinois.gov.

*Nature Center Express bus leaves Forest Preserve Headquarters at 11:30am and returns from Eggers at 4pm

 

OTHER EVENTS

 

Photo Meet-Ups

The Forest Preserves Photo Meet-ups series is designed for photographers of all skill levels, from beginners to experts. Each gathering will feature a Forest Preserve naturalist leading a brief tour of the area, highlighting interesting and unusual plants, scenic vistas and locations frequented by wildlife. During and after the tour, photographers can capture images and share tips and suggestions for getting the best shot.

 

Saturday, March 22 • 10 am

Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center

9800 S. Willow Spring Rd., Willow Springs

          
Saturday, April 26 • 10 am           

River Trail Nature Center.

Meet at nature center before traveling to nearby photo location.

3120 N. Milwaukee Ave., Northbrook

 

Saturday, May 24  • 10 am           

Grassy Ridge Meadow

Meet in parking lot.

1182 W Central Rd, Hoffman Estates

Hosted by Crabtree Nature Center

 

AfterSchool Outdoor Adventures

Calling outdoor adventurers ages 7–12! Meet up for wilderness skill building, hiking, exploring, nature-based art making and more.

 

Wednesday, March 26 • 4 – 6 pm

Thatcher Pavilion

8030 Chicago Ave., River Forest

 

Wednesday, April 30 • 4 – 6 pm

Dan Ryan Pavilion, Grove 5

87th & Western, Chicago

 

Wednesday, May 28 • 4 – 6 pm

Thatcher Pavilion

8030 Chicago Ave., River Forest

 

Spring Breakout Adventures

Spring is finally here—time to “break out” and enjoy the outdoors. Youth and families are invited for a day of exploration. Activities include team-building fun, hikes using GPS, animal pelt stations, art making and more. Come for the whole day or just an hour. Call 708-771-1010 for details.

 

Tuesday, April 15 • 10 am – 3 pm

Caldwell Woods

6100 W. Devon Ave, Chicago

 

Friday, April 18 • 10 am – 3 pm

Thatcher Woods

8030 W. Chicago Ave, River Forest

 

Paddling

 

Skokie Lagoons Spring Birding Paddle

Tower Road Boat Launch, between Dundee and Willow Rds., east of I-94, Northfield

Celebrate Migratory Bird Day by joining a bird expert out on the water!

Guides and binoculars available. Canoe instruction provided.

Saturday, May 10 • 10 am – 1 pm

 

Tampier Lake Evening Paddle

Tampier Lake Boat Launch, 131st St west of Wolf Rd., Orland Park

Pack a dinner and enjoy a spring evening canoeing on Tampier Lake. Beginners welcome. Canoe instruction provided.

Thursday, May 29 • 6 – 8 pm

 

Aquatic Center Opening Weekend

Saturday – Monday, May 24 – 26 • 11 am – 7 pm

The Forest Preserves’ three Aquatic Centers open Memorial Day Weekend.

Opening day (Saturday, May 24) is free!

     • Whealan Pool Aquatic Center, 6200 W. Devon, Chicago

     • Green Lake Aquatic Center, 1100 River Oaks Dr, Calumet City

     • Cermak Aquatic Center, 7600 W. Ogden, Lyons