A Little Time and a Keyboard: 10 Top Winter Hikes in the Chicago Area

10 Top Winter Hikes in the Chicago Area

Friday, December 31, 2021

10 Top Winter Hikes in the Chicago Area

Chicago Area Winter Hiking Spots That We Love

A winter ramble is so good for the soul and offers an opportunity to see nature in winter beauty! Last year, we increased our number of winter hikes and enjoyed some splendid discoveries of the season. Here are our top spots for a Chicago area winter hike:

LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve: We discovered LeRoy Oakes in St. Charles for the first time right after a lovely snow. Under the cover of snow, the preserve dazzled. Frozen Ferson Creek adds an extra sparkle to the snowy scene at LeRoy Oakes. So beautiful!

Crabtree Nature Center: Located in Barrington Hills, Crabtree Nature Center has long been one of my favorites for hiking in all seasons. In winter, you will still enjoy seeing birds including one of my favorites -- the dark-eyed junco. The preserve is not too difficult to traverse in snow and also has snowshoes to borrow.

The Morton Arboretum: In winter, you can't really go wrong hiking at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle. Hikers can enjoy a variety of landscapes. Additionally, you can rent snowshoes or cross country skies. We love to hike near Lake Marmo particularly because we love the frozen lake and there is a wonderful evergreen section nearby. 

Tip: When hiking in winter, some trails may be designated for cross country skiing or cross country skiers will have a designated portion of the trail. Please watch out for signs indicating these designations if applicable.

Heller Nature Center: Highland Park's Heller Nature Center has quickly become one of our favorite spots to hike especially in the winter. The trails are pretty flat and easy to manage in any weather. We love to view the pond in all seasons, including when it is frozen!

The Hollows Conservation Area: The Hollows in Cary was under the cover of a fresh blanket of snow on our first visit. So pretty! The preserve has a lovely lake and we found the wetlands still bubbling a little on our winter visit. There are about 6 miles of trails with 2 miles of groomed trails for cross-country skiing.

Burnridge Forest Preserve: The Elgin forest preserve provides for a pleasant set of trails including flat sections as well as more rolling sections. We found the snow-covered grasslands incredibly tranquil. The rolling woodland trails add an intriguing element! We witnessed evidence of wildlife all around during our winter visit to Burnridge. Sections of trail are designated for cross-country skiing at Burnridge.

Winter sunset at Deer Grove Forest Preserve.
Winter sunset at Deer Grove Forest Preserve.

Deer Grove Forest Preserve: I love hiking at Deer Grove in Palatine all year long because of the range of experiences its trails offer. Deer Grove does have some paved trails, so we often head to those if we don't want to have to navigate possible mud. However, trails tracing and traversing the ravines are some of our favorites. I also love heading to Deer Grove to catch a winter sunset!

Fullersburg Woods: Located in Oak Brook, we love the trail system at Fullersburg Woods in all seasons. Sections of the trail system are pretty flat and easy to navigate. Salt Creek creates some incredible views! In addition to hiking, trails are great for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Kishwaukee Gorge North: We hiked at Kishwaukee Gorge North in Rockford right after a very light snow dusting. The powdered sugar look added a bit of magic to the rocky edges of the ravine. Simply lovely!

Starved Rock: Starved Rock in Utica is one of the most popular preserves in Illinois. Visitors love hiking up to lofty views, spotting waterfalls and admiring rock formations. Winter hiking offers a time to see frozen waterfalls. Additionally, hiking is more peaceful with fewer crowds. Bald eagles can be seen in winter, so birders enjoy a winter trek to spot the majestic birds.

10 Top Winter Hikes in the Chicago Area

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