A Little Time and a Keyboard: Dancing Fall Colors at Marengo Ridge Conservation Area in McHenry County, Illinois

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Dancing Fall Colors at Marengo Ridge Conservation Area in McHenry County, Illinois

 


Exploring the Glacially Molded Landscape of Marengo Ridge Featuring a Moraine

Fall colors finally exploded across the Chicago region. Last weekend, we had an itch to explore somewhere new while looking for fall colors. So, we headed to the new-to-us Marengo Ridge Conservation Area in McHenry County.

Breathtaking view from Marengo Ridge moraine in McHenry County, Illinois.
Breathtaking view from Marengo Ridge moraine in McHenry County, Illinois.


Marengo Ridge Conservation Area is named for the Marengo Ridge moraine which is a moraine left by the retreating Wisconsin Glacier. The views from the ridge impress as the region unfolds before you including splashes of fall colors during the season. The ridge comprises of rocks, gravel, sand, and other sediments left by the glacier.

Fall colors emerge from the woodlands behind the autumn prairie at Marengo Ridge in McHenry County
Fall colors emerge from the woodlands behind the autumn prairie.

From the ridge, we embarked on a trail winding through the prairie. Portions of the trail were paved, grass and even rocky. Eventually, the trail arched into woodlands. The woodlands are primarily oak and hickory, but you will find maples, sumac, aspen, spruce and more trees.

Fall colors on display at Marengo Ridge Conservation Area.
Brilliant yellow leaves blaze into the fall landscape.

Overall, Marengo Ridge Conservation Area provides a home to approximately 5 miles of trails. We hiked about 3 miles of the trails at Marengo Ridge during our visit. Throughout our visit, we viewed quite a range of birds which added more delight. With the recently rainy weather, we also spied quite a bit of fungus!

Amber leaves danced during our fall hike at Marengo Ridge.
Amber leaves danced during our fall hike at Marengo Ridge.


After completing one loop of the trail, we headed on another that guided us through a more wooded section. Fall colors gleefully welcomed us at the trailhead.

Fall sun illuminated the woodlands at Marengo Ridge.
Fall sun illuminated the woodlands at Marengo Ridge.

This section of trail featured rocky terrain with rolls that may be slightly challenging to some. We enjoyed the fall wander through the woodlands.

Marengo Ridge Conservation Area holds 818 acres of nature adventures.  We loved hiking through this glacially molded landscape and anticipate future visits to see how it transforms through the seasons.

Activities at Marengo Ridge Conservation Area:

  • Hiking
  • Birding
  • Cross country skiing
  • Camping including winter camping
  • Picnicking
  • Night Sky Viewing/Stargazing -- by permit, see website 

Dancing Fall Colors at Marengo Ridge Conservation Area in McHenry County, Illinois


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