Fans of winter activities, including snow tubing, cross-country skiing and ice fishing, will find plenty of opportunities this season at DuPage County forest preserves.
The tubing hill at Mount Hoy at Blackwell Forest Preserve near Warrenville, for example, offers rides down an 800-foot run and a chance to explore surrounding trails by snowshoe.
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When three or more inches of snow covers the hill, the facility along Butterfield Road will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends through February and the following school holidays: winter break, Dec. 23 to Jan. 3; Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 20; and Presidents Day, Feb. 17. The hill will be closed Christmas Day.
Only forest preserve district inner tubes are permitted on Mount Hoy and are $5 per tube per day. Snowshoes cost $5 for two hours or $10 a day. Tube rentals end at 3:30 p.m., and snowshoe rentals end at 2 p.m.
Visitors can use their own snowshoes or cross-country skis at most DuPage preserves. When conditions permit, staff members groom trails for classic and freestyle cross-country skiing at the following forest preserves: Blackwell in Warrenville, Danada in Wheaton, Fullersburg Woods in Oak Brook, Greene Valley in Naperville, Herrick Lake in Wheaton, Hidden Lake in Downers Grove, Mallard Lake in Hanover Park, Meacham Grove in Bloomingdale, Springbrook Prairie in Naperville, Waterfall Glen in Darien, and West DuPage Woods in West Chicago. All trail users are asked to take care not to damage tracks that have been set.
Frozen lakes provide opportunities for ice skaters and anglers. At least four inches of clear ice is recommended for any ice activity. Rangers do not monitor ice thickness, and all ice-related activities are done at the user's own risk.
Per District fishing regulations, each individual is permitted no more than two ice-fishing holes at one time, and holes may be no more than 10 inches in diameter. Due to fluctuating water levels, ice skating and ice fishing are always prohibited at Spring Creek Reservoir Forest Preserve in Bloomingdale.
Visitors can sled at their own risk at most forest preserves, unless otherwise posted. Sledding is always prohibited at Mount Hoy at Blackwell, the closed landfill sites at Greene Valley and Mallard Lake forest preserves, and any slopes at Spring Creek Reservoir.
The district offers many outdoor winter programs such as guided hikes, horse-drawn sleigh rides and nature workdays.
View events on the district's website at dupageforest.org/calendar.aspx and in "The Conservationist," the district's quarterly publication. Print subscriptions are free for DuPage County residents and $5 a year for nonresidents; email subscriptions are free for all. To subscribe, call (630) 933-7085 or email email@example.com.