A Little Time and a Keyboard: Wandering the Wooded Paths of Heller Nature Center in Highland Park, Illinois

Monday, January 25, 2021

Wandering the Wooded Paths of Heller Nature Center in Highland Park, Illinois

Wandering the Wooded Paths of Heller Nature Center in Highland Park, Illinois

Snow Dusted Pines, A Tranquil Pond and a Log Cabin Enchant at Heller Nature Center

Heller Nature Center nestled in Highland Park, Illinois offers about three miles of trails, a nature play area, nature center and more. Throughout the year, Heller Nature Center presents a variety of nature adventures and experiences including introductions to beekeeping. On a recent snowy day, we headed over to Heller Nature Center to wander the woods of snow covered trees.

Snow covered trails welcomed adventure at Heller Nature Center.
Snow covered trails welcomed adventure at Heller Nature Center.

Welcoming Snow Covered Trails

Snow powdered trails welcomed us upon arrival. We noted a couple trying out cross country skiing. You actually can rent skis at Heller Nature Center by reserving online at designated times. The nature center does require 4 inches of snow on the ground for cross country skiing.

Nature fort ready for an adventure at Heller Nature Center in Highland Park, Illinois
Nature fort ready for an adventure!

Soon, we encountered the immersive nature play area sporting a variety of stations. The engaging play area encourages the imagination while exploring nature. This would have been pretty fun when my daughter was younger. I love that each station was well spread out. I have seen a number of nature play areas that are a bit too compact. This one leaves plenty of room to stretch out and experiment with nature.


Tranquility Along the Shore of a Frozen, Snow Sugared Pond

The 97-acre preserve contains a variety of environments including woodlands, savanna, prairie and wetlands. As we wandered through the preserve, we encountered a peaceful pond. Ice covered most of it with snow softly topping the ice. Weathered umber leaves framed part of the scene with evergreens emerging on the opposite side of the pond.

Tranquil frozen pond softly covered with powdery snow at Heller Nature Center in Highland Park, Illinois
Tranquil frozen pond softly covered with powdery snow.

After the brief respite, we headed to the other side of the preserve. Soon, trails wound us through a sea of snow covered white pines. The landscape was magical indeed!

Avenue of white pines beckons at Heller Nature Center.
Avenue of white pines beckons!

Charming Cabin Designed by Jens Jensen

Upon exiting the trail, we discovered a log cabin which was charming set in the snowy landscape. The log cabin is a piece of Highland Park history and actually was designed by Jens Jensen. Jensen also supervised construction in 1926. The cabin served as a playhouse for Goodman family and was moved to this location in 1981.

Log cabin playhouse designed by Jens Jensen at Heller Nature Center.
Log cabin playhouse designed by Jens Jensen.

I was pretty surprised by how much there was to discover at Heller Nature Center! While there were spots where we could see some of civilization poking through in the form of nearby homes, we felt away from it all enrobed in nature. I definitely will have to return to walk among the pines again! I look forward when COVID recedes further and programs can start up again. Heller Nature Center is a little treasure here in the Chicago suburbs! 

Wandering the Wooded Paths of Heller Nature Center in Highland Park, Illinois


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