Celebrate Valentine's Day with forest preserve programs

With Valentine's Day quickly approaching, Cook County residents may be contemplating how to plan a special day while following public health guidelines.

From walks in the woods to learning about the mating habits of native wildlife, there are plenty of ways to spend time with loved ones in the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

This Valentine's Day, consider bundling up and taking a walk in nature. There are more than 350 miles of paved and unpaved trails in the forest preserves. While walking the trails and exploring the preserves, lovebirds can view magical winter scenes, where even a light dusting of snow transforms Cook County's landscapes into picture-perfect winter wonderland.

Use the Forest Preserves' interactive web map to find a nearby trail,

Looking to get your heart aflutter? Take loved ones out to enjoy winter recreation like sledding, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, conditions permitting. There are seven sledding hills available throughout the forest preserves. And most of the nature centers offer free snowshoe rentals.

Sagawau Environmental Learning Center becomes Sagawau Nordic when snow conditions allow, providing cross-country ski rentals and lessons. Learn more at

Several of the nature centers are also hosting Valentine's Day-themed events and programs:

• Children's Animal Valentine Card Craft Pick Up: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, to Sunday, Feb. 14, Trailside Museum of Natural History, 738 Thatcher Ave., River Forest. Create a cute animal Valentine's Day card to give to an animal at Trailside or to your valentine. Pick up a bag at the museum with all the materials you need except crayons, glue and scissors.

• Valentine Forest Bathing: Virtually at 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, on Zoom. Explore the therapeutic benefits of forest bathing and learn techniques that will help deepen your connection and love for one another during this webinar. Registration required at

• Animals in Love: 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14, Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 Paxton Ave., South Holland. Take a guided stroll around Sand Ridge's Trails and learn about native wildlife's mating habits, from a short fling to a bond that lasts a lifetime.

Registration is required; call (708) 868-0606, register in person at the nature center or email

For a full schedule of events, visit

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