Illinois Beach State Park: Beautiful Dune, Lake, and River Views; Hiking; Biking; Camping; and Other Great Outdoor Recreational Activities

BY ANDREW MORKES, FOUNDER & AUTHOR OF NATURE IN CHICAGOLAND There are only 63 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline in Illinois (as opposed to 3,288 miles in Michigan), and much of this land has been developed as part of city lakefronts, heavy industry, and private beachfront property. That’s why Illinois Beach State Park (1 Lake … Continue reading Illinois Beach State Park: Beautiful Dune, Lake, and River Views; Hiking; Biking; Camping; and Other Great Outdoor Recreational Activities

Bluff Spring Fen: A Fen-tastic Nature Experience in Far Western Cook County

BY ANDREW MORKES, FOUNDER & AUTHOR OF NATURE IN CHICAGOLAND If you only read one sentence of this entire story, it should be this one: Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve is an amazing place that is at the height of its summertime wildflower show, and you should visit today, tomorrow, or very soon to see … Continue reading Bluff Spring Fen: A Fen-tastic Nature Experience in Far Western Cook County

Toto, I’ve a Feeling We’re Not in Chicago Anymore: 10 Nature Destinations Where You’ll Swear That You’re Not in the City

BY ANDREW MORKES, FOUNDER OF NATURE IN CHICAGOLAND Chicago has a population of nearly 2.7 million people, more than 4,000 miles of streets, and large industrial areas with factories spewing pollution into the air, the Chicago River, and Lake Michigan. Like most U.S. cities, it also has problems with crime, racial inequity, poverty, lack of … Continue reading Toto, I’ve a Feeling We’re Not in Chicago Anymore: 10 Nature Destinations Where You’ll Swear That You’re Not in the City

McKinley Woods: Enjoy Breathtaking Views of the Des Plaines River and I&M Canal, Excellent Hiking Trails and Birdwatching, and More

McKinley Woods is a beautiful preserve that features bluffs, deep ravines, and forests along the Des Plaines River and I&M Canal. There are two access points: Frederick’s Grove and Kerry Sheridan Grove. I recently spent several hours on a warm spring day hiking the trails at Frederick’s Grove, which has north and south parking areas. … Continue reading McKinley Woods: Enjoy Breathtaking Views of the Des Plaines River and I&M Canal, Excellent Hiking Trails and Birdwatching, and More

Valley of Eden Bird Sanctuary: Great Birding, Wide-Open Spaces, and Enjoyable Hiking and Cross-Country Skiing

BY ANDREW MORKES, FOUNDER OF NATURE IN CHICAGOLAND Beautiful hilly grasslands. Big skies. Enjoyable hiking trails. The opportunity to see more than 100 bird species. If these phrases catch your attention, you should visit Valley of Eden Bird Sanctuary (559 E. Rush Creek Road, Stockton, IL 61085) in Jo Daviess County, Illinois. The 409-acre preserve … Continue reading Valley of Eden Bird Sanctuary: Great Birding, Wide-Open Spaces, and Enjoyable Hiking and Cross-Country Skiing

Galena Gateway Park: Amazing Views of a Historic Town, Great Hiking, and Excellent Wildflower and Bird Viewing

BY ANDREW MORKES, FOUNDER OF NATURE IN CHICAGOLAND The Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation and the Galena Area Land Enthusiasts are the official managers of stunning Galena Gateway Park (9300 W. Powder House Hill Road, Galena, IL 61036). But when I visited last week, the red-winged blackbirds were firmly in charge—especially in the highlands. These beautiful … Continue reading Galena Gateway Park: Amazing Views of a Historic Town, Great Hiking, and Excellent Wildflower and Bird Viewing

Prairie Enthusiasts Executive Director Discusses Why It’s Vital to Save Prairies (Including Bell Bowl Prairie) and Celebrates the Expansion of Mounds View Grassland Preserve

Debra Behrens is the Executive Director of the The Prairie Enthusiasts, a grassroots environmental organization that has 11 chapters in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois. I recently talked with her about the expansion of its land holdings (a wonderful development in an age where we have to fight to preserve every last bit of the natural … Continue reading Prairie Enthusiasts Executive Director Discusses Why It’s Vital to Save Prairies (Including Bell Bowl Prairie) and Celebrates the Expansion of Mounds View Grassland Preserve

Celebrating the Five-Year Anniversary of Nature in Chicagoland

BY ANDREW MORKES, FOUNDER OF NATURE IN CHICAGOLAND Today is the five-year anniversary of my blog, Nature in Chicagoland, and I'm so happy to have written nearly 200 articles about the woods, wetlands, grasslands, prairies, lakes and other waterways, and other natural areas that make up Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana. I'm pleased that Nature … Continue reading Celebrating the Five-Year Anniversary of Nature in Chicagoland

Hidden Pond Woods: What if You Held a Nature Party and No One Came?

What if you held a nature party and no one came? That was the scene early last September when I stumbled upon Hidden Pond Woods-East (Entrance: S. Kean Avenue, north of W. 95th Street, Cook County, IL 60480, near Willow Springs) after hiking about 3 miles at wild and hilly Spears Woods just to the … Continue reading Hidden Pond Woods: What if You Held a Nature Party and No One Came?

Spears Woods: Room to Roam Amidst Rolling Hills, Sloughs, and Oak Woodlands

BY ANDREW MORKES, FOUNDER & AUTHOR OF NATURE IN CHICAGOLAND If you’re looking for a large preserve in which to hike, bike, cross-country ski, snowshoe, and otherwise explore, than Spears Woods near Willow Springs, Illinois, is the place to be. It offers rolling hills; sloughs (such as whimsically named Boomerang, Hogwash, and Pollywog Sloughs); winding … Continue reading Spears Woods: Room to Roam Amidst Rolling Hills, Sloughs, and Oak Woodlands