A Little Time and a Keyboard: Rolling Trails and Rambling Water Entice at Fox Bluff Conservation Area in Cary, Illinois

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Rolling Trails and Rambling Water Entice at Fox Bluff Conservation Area in Cary, Illinois

Rolling Trails and Rambling Water at Fox Bluff Conservation Area in Algonquin, Illinois

Rolling Trails and Rambling Water Entice at Fox Bluff Conservation Area in Cary, Illinois


Wandering the trails in the Chicago area treat us to an amazing array of nature experiences. When I first moved to the area, I had absolutely no idea how beautiful nature can be here. Almost 20 years later, I am still discovering new treasures. A couple of weeks ago a friend shared a recent hike where she felt so entirely enchanted by nature. After hearing about her incredible adventure, I added a visit to Fox Bluff Conservation Area to my list of new preserves to explore. Last week, I ventured to the Algonquin preserve and too became entranced with this new-to-me preserve!




Wandering through the forest at Fox Bluff Conservation Area in Cary, Illinois
Wandering through the forest at Fox Bluff Conservation Area.
I don't always fall in love with a preserve as quickly as I did with Fox Bluff Conservation Area. As we embarked on the trails, my husband and I noted a variety of bird calls creating a unique forest melody. I was truly surprised by how many we heard! I could identify a few but felt an immediate inspiration to learn more.

A path guiding us away from it all at Fox Bluff Conservation Area.
A path guiding us away from it all.

Beguiled by the Charms of Water:

Meandering along rolling trails, we arrived at a stream gently flowing by. We would end up fording springs in a number of spots throughout the preserve. Each time I paused to observe nature around.

A trickling brook crafts a sense of calm at Fox Bluff Conservation Area in Cary, IL
A trickling brook crafts a sense of calm.
Soon, we heard rapids rushing through. Eager to investigate, we approached the rapids and delighted in watching water rolling down the incline. Although not a large cascade, the rambling brook was a joy to watch.

After hearing the sound of rushing water, we discovered water jubilantly rolling nearby at Fox Bluff Conservation Area
After hearing the sound of rushing water, we discovered water jubilantly rolling nearby.
Fox Bluff Conservation Area would hold more discoveries for us. Suddenly, we heard an even louder rush of water and saw a small waterfall in the distance.

An unexpected waterfall emerged from the woods at Fox Bluff Conservation Area.
An unexpected waterfall emerged from the woods.
Although not large, we could not help but savor a sense of awe at this unexpected sight. I will always delight in waterfalls whether they are tall and thundering or small and easily missed. Stunning!

Taking Time to Enjoy the Small Things:

Tall Bellflowers add a flash of purple-blue to the forest.
Tall Bellflowers add a flash of purple-blue to the forest.

After happening upon the unexpected waterfall, I felt that certainly Fox Bluff could not hold any other surprises for us. As nature often does, I was proven wrong. Soon, I discovered new wildflowers brilliantly heralding their presence with stars of a purple-blue. Of course, I had to take a photo to identify when I arrived home. I learned that they are Tall Bellflowers. Truly beautiful and unique.

The forest incorporates old and new together.
The forest incorporates old and new together.

Whispers of History Around:

Our preserves hold so many stories within them. I love that during a hike, you can see the tall, lofty and old trees next to fallen trees returning to the ground right next to new growth. The woodlands, wetlands, fens and prairies of Fox Bluff Conservation Area were at times home to five different Native American tribes. The area is noted as the place chosen by McHenry County's first white settlers, the Gillilan family, to settle. In the early 1900's, the site merged into a fresh air camp called Camp Algonquin which became a spot to treat ill and under privileged women and children of Chicago. Famed landscape architect Jens Jensen was hired to produce plans for the camp in 1910. Over the years, the programming expanded. The camp closed in 2011 but there is hope that it may be reworked into a new outdoor camping experience. Present, past and future surrounded us as we walked through the preserve.

An interesting tree intrigues in the forest at Fox Bluff Conservation Area
An interesting tree intrigues in the forest.

Fox Bluff Conservation Area is easily one of my favorite preserves in the region. The nature is stunning and I love the slight challenge of the rolling trails. My husband and I enjoyed spotting and listening to wildlife while exploring the preserve. The rambling flow of water, small waterfalls and river views added more picturesque moments. We look forward to visiting this preserve again soon to see how it changes throughout the year.


Rolling Trails and Rambling Water Entice at Fox Bluff Conservation Area in Cary, Illinois







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