A Little Time and a Keyboard: Trekking the Looped Trails of The Hollows Conservation Area

Friday, February 5, 2021

Trekking the Looped Trails of The Hollows Conservation Area

Trekking the Looped Trails of The Hollows Conservation Area in Cary, Illinois

Trekking over Snow Covered and Looped Trails of The Hollows Conservation Area for a Winter Nature Respite

The Hollows Conservation Area of Cary, Illinois invites wanderers to admire a range of ecosystems in all seasons. We embarked on a few of the trails during our late January hiking adventure appreciating trails that rolled through a snow covered environment.

Frozen Lake Atwood covered with powdery snow enjoying a winter repose at The Hollows Conservation Area in Cary, IL
Frozen Lake Atwood covered with powdery snow enjoying a winter repose.

Views of Lake Atwood in a Winter Repose

Upon first entering The Hollows Conservation Area, we headed towards Lake Atwood. Powdery snow covered, the lake was sparsely framed by deep umbers and straws of flora in winter. I noted many favorite perches along the lake as I observed footpaths to its shore. Lake Atwood is 22 acres and represents a pretty popular fishing hole in the area including an ice fishing destination in water. The winter views of the lake were spectacular and I look forward to viewing it in other seasons.


Hiking in Rolling, Looped Trails

After admiring Lake Atwood in a soft winter repose, we doubled back to another set of looped trails. Immediately, a rocky landscape beckoned us forward. Once quarried for gravel, The Hollows Conservation Area began its journey to restoration when the McHenry County Conservation District acquired 350 acres of the land in 1977. The up-and-down of stretches of the trail and peaks into ravine added some unique perspectives and even frivolity to the winter trek.

Trees frame a snow trail forward at The Hollows Conservation Area.
Trees frame a snow trail forward.

Part of our trail opened up to wetlands. We noticed a swift progression of foliage even in the depth of winter. We actually encountered flowing water which was pretty amazing in the frame of a big snow storm expected later that night.

Flowing water in a wetland area delighted at The Hollows in Cary, Illinois.
Flowing water in a wetland area delighted.

During our snow trek, we encountered snowshoers and cross country skiers as well. We savored the quiet before the oncoming winter storm. I always feel that snow covered landscapes have somewhat of a comfortable, relaxing embrace.


A Forest Preserve for All Seasons

I look forward to returning in the spring when the forest, wetlands and prairie start waking up from the winter reverie. I have noted a number of plants and buds that I am excited about seeing as they start to flourish in the spring. Additionally, I would love to spy around the lake looking for waterfowl! The Hollows Conservation Area presents a truly wonderful and varied natural ecosystems guaranteeing that something will always be changing on each visit!

The rocky terrain paints quite a stunning picture in the winter at The Hollows in Cary, IL.
The rocky terrain paints quite a stunning picture in the winter.

Things to Try While Winter Hiking:

  • Note certain spots that speak to you. Document them to see how they change over the next few seasons.
  • Try to identify tree buds.
  • Take pictures of plant remnants you are curious about. Try to identify them. Return later in the year to see what emerges and if you are correct!
  • Look for animal tracks in the snow.
  • This is the season of woodpeckers! Check out their sounds before heading out. Did you see or hear any?
To Know About The Hollows:
  • Lake Atwood is a popular fishing destination. Ice fishing is permitted if there is at least 4 inches of frozen ice on the lake. The lake is restocked before trout season.
  • A picnic area is available.
  • Boat launches are available for Lake Atwood.
  • A campground is available.
  • We discovered a neat display explaining bird boxes at the head of a trail, so look for that!
  • The Hollows features over 4 miles of trails.
Trekking the Looped Trails of The Hollows Conservation Area in Cary, Illinois


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