Forest preserves offer sure cure for cabin fever
DuPage forest preserves will offer residents lots of reasons to get outside and play this winter -- a sure cure for cabin fever.
When there's plenty of packed snow on the hill (usually more than 3 inches), thrill-seekers can snow tube down the 800-foot run on Mount Hoy at Blackwell Forest Preserve near Warrenville. Only district inner tubes are allowed.
If conditions allow, the hill is open Saturdays and Sundays from Dec. 7 through Feb. 23; daily over winter break Dec. 23 through Jan. 3 (closed Dec. 25); Friday, Jan. 17 (teacher work day); Monday, Jan. 20 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day); and Monday, Feb. 17 (Presidents Day).
Inner tube rentals are $10 per tube per day at the base of the hill. The tubing hill is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; rentals end at 3:30 p.m.
Visitors also can explore the preserves by snowshoes. When there's plenty of snow on the trails, snowshoe rentals are available at three preserves from December through February for $10 for two hours or $15 for the day.
The locations are:
• Blackwell Forest Preserve near Warrenville at the tubing hill (when open) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Forest preserve district headquarters at Danada Forest Preserve in Wheaton from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays. Call (630) 933-7248 for availability.
• Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center in Oak Brook from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays (rentals end at 2 p.m.). Call (630) 850-8110 for availability.
Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago is hosting "Farm Life in Winter" from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday through Monday, Jan. 2-Feb. 29, with different activities every day. Visitors may be able to harvest ice on Timber Lake, check for new lambs, watch tool repairs in the wagon shed, or enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride around the farm when there is at least 4 inches of packed snow. Rides are $5 per person ages 5 and older, and adults must accompany children younger than 13.
Call (630) 876-5900 or check Kline Creek Farm's Facebook page for each day's activity. Starting Jan. 1, Kline Creek Farm will ask for a suggested admission donation of $5 per person for ages 3 and older.
For fans of cross-country skiing, rangers groom more than 70 miles of trails at forest preserves such as Blackwell in Warrenville, Fullersburg Woods in Oak Brook, Danada and Herrick Lake in Wheaton, Greene Valley and Springbrook Prairie in Naperville, Mallard Lake in Hanover Park, Meacham Grove in Bloomingdale, Waterfall Glen in Darien and West DuPage Woods in West Chicago.
Visitors who aren't classic skiers should use the inside of the trails to avoid damaging the set tracks.
Ice fishing, ice skating and sledding are allowed at most forest preserves, although never at Spring Creek Reservoir in Bloomingdale. Additionally, sledding is not allowed at Mount Hoy at Blackwell or at the closed landfill sites at Greene Valley and Mallard Lake.
The district does not monitor ice conditions, so visitors go on ice at their own risk. As a guideline, not a guarantee, there should be at least 4 inches of clear ice for any activity for one person; 8 inches of clear ice for a group. Anglers can find complete regulations in the fishing guide.
Finally, when there's adequate snow conditions, mushers can dog sled on the Thunderbird Spur Trail at Greene Valley and on the West Branch Regional, Bobolink and connector trails north of Mack Road at the McKee Marsh area of Blackwell.
A complete list of winter programs and activities is available on the district's website or in the quarterly Conservationist. Print subscriptions are free for DuPage County residents and $5 a year for nonresidents; email subscriptions are free readers. Subscribe online or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.