A Little Time and a Keyboard: Crossing a Swinging Bridge and River Views at Skokie River Nature Preserve

Crossing a Swinging Bridge and River Views at Skokie River Nature Preserve

Thursday, December 28, 2023

 

Crossing a Swinging Bridge and River Views at Skokie River Nature Preserve in Lake Forest, Illinois

Skokie River Nature Preserve welcomes wilderness lovers with over 4 miles of trails in Lake Forest, Illinois. The preserve includes woodlands, prairie, meadows, and wetlands. Plus, a number of bridges allow hikers to crisscross the Skokie River. One visit and you will be enamored!

Even in winter, the arms of oak trees reach artfully over the trail. Some have remnant leaves that have not fallen and display a deep rust color.
Even in winter, the arms of oak trees reach artfully over the trail.
Some have remnant leaves that have not fallen and display a deep rust color.

Exploring the Preserve

We visited Skokie River Nature Preserve on a recent, unseasonably warm December morning. The winter landscape often proves a challenge when choosing a preserve -- how to find a spot where nature will spark the right amount of interest to keeps us hiking the trails. Skokie River Nature Preserve immediately enticed us to wander the trails making nature discoveries even in winter.

An arched bridge and trees reflect in the Skokie River.
An arched bridge and trees reflect in the Skokie River.

The natural trails offered a gentle hike over all with a few rolls here and there. We found ourselves winding underneath the craggy tree branches of winter, some still full of stubborn rust-colored leaves that have not dropped. At a number of points, we soaked in views of the Skokie River along its shores. A number of bridges of varying types crossed the river.

The winter prairie is full of dry straw, amber, and rust colored grasses warmed by the golden sun.
The winter prairie is full of dry straw, amber, caramel, and rust colored grasses
warmed by the golden sun.

Several sections of the preserve feature prairies and meadows. During this season, these parcels are full of rust, amber, straw, and caramel colored grasses with some displaying remnant seeds. Some see a boring prairie during this season, but I observe rich textures especially warmed by the winter sun.

The Skokie River rambles over a pile of water-smoothed rocks at Skokie River Nature Preserve.
The Skokie River rambles over a pile of water-smoothed rocks
at Skokie River Nature Preserve.

Standing on the edge of the Skokie River, we spotted water rambling over rocks and leaves submerged. In one spot, rocks forged a bit of a miniature waterfall. Treasures exist to behold throughout if you just let yourself be at ease.

The winter woods with a forest floor of caramel brown leaves and barren tree branches reaching to the blue sky.
The winter woods with a forest floor of caramel brown leaves
and barren tree branches reaching to the blue sky.

Skokie River Nature Preserve Contains Treasured Lake Forest Hiking Trails

Skokie River Nature Preserve is the oldest and largest preserve maintained and protected by Lake Forest Open Lands. Portions of the prairie at Skokie River Nature Preserve represent last remnants of original Illinois prairie. Due to the significant nature of the virgin prairie, the entire preserve is under special protection as an Illinois Nature Preserve. Other portions of the preserve represent examples of habitat restoration.


The beloved swinging bridge at Skokie River Nature Preserve entices hikers to cross the Skokie River.
The beloved swinging bridge at Skokie River Nature Preserve
entices hikers to cross the Skokie River.

The swinging bridge is one of the most beloved discoveries at Skokie River Nature Preserve. Upon doing research, I learned that there long has been a part of the preserve with the original structure dating to 1887 when Howard Van Doren Shaw purchased land that would one day be part of the preserve. Since then, the bridge has gone through updates and reconstruction. What a fun little adventure within the preserve!

Skokie River Nature Preserve has quickly become one of my favorite Lake County hiking locations. I look forward to visiting in the warmer months to see the preserve blossom through spring and summer. The 123-acre preserve is popular for hiking and cross-country skiing. Dogs lovers also enjoy bringing their pups for a jaunt. Skokie River Nature Preserve is a fabulous northern Illinois forest preserve offering miles of trails through a varied landscape treating to a range of nature experiences throughout the seasons.

Crossing a Swinging Bridge and River Views at Skokie River Nature Preserve in Lake Forest, Illinois



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