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Forest Preserves of Cook County Announces Spring Schedule

Tuesday, March 01, 2016
Special to

Forest Preserves of Cook County Announces Spring Schedule

As days grow longer and signs of spring’s imminent arrival begin appearing, residents and visitors will find an abundance of ways to enjoy the season in the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Forest Preserves’ Spring Brochure is brimming with exciting events and programs.

Bird the Preserves, the FPCC’s new birding initiative, invites people of all skill level to explore the Forest Preserves while spotting some of the County’s most interesting birds. Main highlights throughout the season and year include dedicated Birds of the Month, bird walks, festivals and more.

At each of the Forest Preserves’ six Nature Centers, visitors can join in on wonderful programs teaching attendees about native and migrating birds. On May 7, the Nature Centers will also be hosting the day-long “citizen science” event, The Big Sit. Attendees can join in at any time, at any Nature Center to see how many birds can be heard or spotted within a 17-foot circle.

This spring, visitors can take to the waterways during paddling events, hop on a bicycle and enjoy more than 300 miles of trails, or pitch tent and spend an evening under the stars while camping at one of the Forest Preserves new and revitalized campgrounds.

For a complete list of spring events in the Forest Preserves of Cook County, or to download our quarterly brochure, visit


One Earth Film Festival

Join us for a free showing of the film “Nature Play”. A discussion and fun activities will follow the film. For festival details, visit

Saturday, March 5 • 3 pm

Thatcher Pavilion, 8030 Chicago Ave, River Forest

44th Annual Maple Syrup Festival

Celebrate the arrival of spring with a special day of activities including: maple syrup history, tree tapping hikes, maple syrup making and more. Call 847-824-8360 for more information.

Sunday, March 20 • 11 am – 3 pm

River Trail Nature Center, 3120 Milwaukee Ave, Northbrook

Ralph Frese Memorial Paddle

Experienced paddlers, bring your canoe or kayak and celebrate the legacy of canoe legend Ralph Frese by paddling down the Chicago River from Willow Road Dam to Linne Woods in Morton Grove. A shuttle bus will be provided and will run from 8 am to 2 pm from Linne Woods (Dempster St and Ferris Ave) to Willow Road Dam.

Saturday, April 9 • 9 – 11 am

Willow Road Dam, Willow Rd & N Forest Way Dr, Winnetka

Wellness in the Woods

Spring into action and refresh the senses! Reap the benefits of exercising outside in nature. Warm up your morning with a relaxing yoga session or an energetic workout. Get tips on nutrition to supplement a healthy lifestyle. Call 708-386-4121 for more information.

Saturday, April 16 • 9 am – Noon

Swallow Cliff Stairs (North entrance), IL Rt 83 (Cal Sag Rd) & US Rt 45, Palos Park

Earth Day Habitat Restoration

Join the Deer Grove Natural Area Volunteers for a day of restoration while they celebrate Earth Day. Restoration work will take place from 9 am to 12 pm, and lunch will follow.

Saturday, April 16 • 9 am – 12 pm

Camp Alphonse, Deer Grove Forest Preserve, 1393 W Dundee Rd, Palatine

Earth Day Celebration and Preserves Clean Up

Clean up the preserves in partnership with Friends of the Parks in the morning, and then afterward celebrate with fun nature activities and snacks.

Saturday, April 23 • 9 am – 1 pm

Whistler Woods, 480 Acme Dr, Riverdale

Earth Day

Join us for a day set aside as a reminder to be good stewards of our planet every day. Activities include hikes, puppet shows, a craft and Earth Day Jeopardy!

Saturday, April 23 • 10 am – 3 pm

Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 Paxton, South Holland

Arbor Day Celebration

Celebrate the grandeur of trees and learn why they’re important to our community and our world. Enjoy tree planting, tree climbing, tree-caching and ID, scavenger hunts, art projects and more.

Saturday, April 30 • Noon – 4 pm

Bunker Hill, 6800 N Caldwell, Chicago

Spring Festival

Celebrate spring with a day of activities for all ages, including animal encounters, kids’ tree climb, guided wildflower walks, bird banding, dip netting, seed planting, building a bird house, and more! Call 708-366-6530 for more information.

Sunday, May 1 • 10 am – 3 pm

Trailside Museum of Natural History, 738 Thatcher Ave, River Forest

The Big Sit

All day long at all six of our Nature Centers we will be counting how many birds we can spot or hear without leaving a 17-foot circle. This ‘citizen science’ can help us make better decisions about the conservation of bird habitat. We need birders of any experience to help us for part or all of the day. Stop by anytime, grab a seat and join in.

Saturday, May 7 • 5:30 am – 5 pm

Weekday Bird Hikes

Catch the migration spirit and join us each day for a guided bird hike at Sagawau.

Monday – Friday, May 9–13 • 7:30 am

Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, 12545 W 111th St, Lemont

Nature Obstacle Course & Adventure Night

Attempt our nature obstacle course — created from all natural forest materials. Also, join our staff for archery instruction, nature crafts and other surprises. Archery for ages 10 & up; other activities for all ages. No reservation needed; call 312-533-5751 for more information.

Thursday, May 12 • 4 – 6:30 pm

Bremen Grove, Grove 1, 6400-6498 Nature Dr, Oak Forest

Chicago River System Clean-Up Day

Help celebrate Chicago River Clean-Up Day on the Little Calumet. Join us in a river clean up and restoration day at Kickapoo Woods. Bring your own boat or borrow one of ours. As an added bonus, we will bus cleanup participants to our “Nature Block Party” event at Eggers Woods, where there will be a free lunch offering for clean-up participants. A return bus to Kickapoo will depart Eggers Woods at 2 pm. Limited number of boats/bus space. First come, first serve by calling 312-533-5751.

Saturday, May 14 • 9 – 11 am or 2:30 pm

Kickapoo Woods, Kickapoo Woods Boat Launch, 144th & Halsted, Riverdale

Nature Block Party: A Celebration of Biodiversity

Discover the flora and fauna of the urban preserves. Join us for restoration activities, bird and tree hikes, games, biking and more.

Saturday, May 14 • 11 am – 3 pm

Eggers Grove, 11201 S Ave B, Chicago

Des Plaines Canoe and Kayak Marathon

Join the second oldest continual canoe race in the United States! Race begins at Oak Springs Road in Libertyville and ends at Dam #2 in Mount Prospect. Free for spectators. Race starts at 8 am. Activities at Dam #2 start at 11 am. To register, visit

Sunday, May 22 • 8 am

906 River Rd, Mt Prospect


Snowshoe Trekking

There’s no better way to experience the preserves in the winter than by snowshoe. Come on out and try our snowshoes (conditions permitting) for free. Open to the public. No registration required. Check for snow conditions and updates.

Saturday, March 5 • 10 am – 3 pm

Camp Reinberg, 1801 N Quentin, Palatine

Camping 101 (series)

Camping 101 is a hands-on workshop series designed to teach basic camping skills. Learn tent set-up, campfire building, camping fun, dressing for camping, camping etiquette and more. Join us on select Wednesday evenings. No registration required. Free.

·Camp Dan Beard, 200 Portwine Rd, Northbrook

April 13 • 5:30 – 7:30 pm

·Camp Bullfrog Lake, 9600 Wolf Rd, Willow Springs

March 9 • 5 – 7 pm

April 27 • 5:30 – 7:30 pm

May 18 • 5:30 – 7:30 pm

·Camp Reinberg, 1801 N Quentin, Palatine

March 30 • 5 – 7 pm

April 6 • 5:30 – 7:30 pm

May 11 • 5:30 – 7:30 pm

·Camp Shabbona Woods, 15810 Torrence Ave, South Holland

April 20 • 5:30 – 7:30 pm

May 25 • 5:30 – 7:30 pm

·Camp Sullivan, 14630 Oak Park Ave, Oak Forest

May 4 • 5:30 – 7:30 pm

Camping Leadership Immersion Course (CLIC)

Attention leaders of community and school groups, Scouts and youth groups! This overnight training course teaches equipment use and care, campground cooking, outdoor activities, teamwork and nature-based education. After completing this training, you and your group of up to 30 are eligible to borrow tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads and cookware for a campout at Camp Sullivan. Training is required to gain access to gear. For more info, email

Saturday, April 9 – Sunday, April 10

Saturday, May 14 – Sunday, May 15

Outdoor Adventures

Calling all outdoor adventurers! Meet up for wilderness skill building, hiking, exploring, nature-based art making, and more. Call 312-533-5751 to reserve your spot or for more information.

·Celebrate Spring

Spring has sprung! Come celebrate the passing of the vernal equinox and the beginning of Easter with us as we hike through the woods and make crafts that will highlight the return of warm weather, longer days, migrating birds, and other wildlife to our preserves. We will be taking spring-themed hikes, learning about all-natural egg dyeing techniques, as well as making spring-related crafts, birdhouses, bird feeders and more.

Wednesday, March 23 • 4:30 – 7:30 pm

Caldwell Woods Warming Shelter, 6350 W Devon Ave, Chicago

·Turning Sticks into Shelter

Let’s learn how to build a survival shelter! We’ll discuss tips on choosing the ideal spot for creating a shelter. Join in discovering about the lean-to shelter, A-frame style, and how to make a comfortable resting spot out in the woods. Dress ready to get dirty and have fun.

Wednesday, April 27 • 5 – 7 pm

Dan Ryan Woods, Grove 5, 87th & Western Ave, Chicago

·Bird ID Canoe Cruise

For rookie or advanced birders! Increase your identification skills with a morning of birding on the Skokie Lagoons. Forest Preserves staff will teach paddling instruction as well as provide birding expertise during the program. Limited number of boats; please reserve a space.

Tuesday, May 10 • 6:30 – 8 am

Skokie Lagoons, Tower Road Boat Launch, North Branch Trail, Winnetka

Third Thursdays (series)

This monthly series explores nature, art and more. For more information, call 312-415-2970 or email

·A Taste of Maple Syrup Fest

Join us to celebrate the start of spring! Learn how real maple syrup is made and enjoy lunch from food trucks with maple syrup-focused menus. All Ages. No registration required.

Thursday, March 17 • 11 am – 2 pm

Cummings Square, 536 N Harlem Ave, River Forest

·Outdoor Art Workshop

Come create art inspired by nature. Try your hand at a variety of projects with a creative reuse focus. All ages. No registration required.

Thursday, April 21 • 4 – 7 pm

Thatcher Woods, 8030 Chicago Ave, River Forest

·Navigation Unplugged

Discover how people got around before GPS. Learn the basics of orienteering (using a compass) and cartography (the art of making maps) through various activities, then put your skills to the test on the trails! Appropriate for ages 5+ and all skill levels. No registration required.

Thursday, May 19 • 5 – 8 pm

Thatcher Woods, 8030 Chicago Ave, River Forest


Bring your own canoe or use one of ours! We have a limited number of boats available. Canoe instruction provided. Paddling for ages 5 & up. Call 312-533-5751 to reserve a spot.

·Big Bend Lake Afternoon Paddle

Drop in during your lunch hour for a relaxing way to enjoy the afternoon — paddling Big Bend Lake. Beginners welcome.

Wednesday, May 4 • 11 am – 1 pm

Big Bend Lake Boat Launch, 9301 Golf Rd, Des Plaines

·Skokie Lagoons Evening Tour

Drop in for an evening tour of the Skokie Lagoons. We will have rotating trips available for about twenty minutes at a time. Guides will be out on the water for extra assistance. Boats are limited, so reserve a time block in advance to guarantee your spot.

Wednesday, May 25 • 4:30 – 7:30 pm

Skokie Lagoons, Tower Road Boat Launch, North Branch Trail, Winnetka

Aquatic Centers Opening Weekend

The Forest Preserves’ three Aquatic Centers open Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday – Monday, May 28-30, 11 am – 7 pm! Pools open for the summer on June 4 and will be open every day until September 5.

·Whealan Pool Aquatic Center, 6200 W Devon Ave, Chicago

·Cermak Aquatic Center, 7600 W Ogden Ave, Lyons

·Green Lake Aquatic Center, 1100 River Oaks Dr, Calumet City

Photo Meet-ups (series)

This monthly series is led by a naturalist and will highlight a natural area with scenic vistas, interesting plants and wildlife. For all photographer levels and camera types.

·Saturday, March 26 • 10 am

River Trail Nature Center, 3120 Milwaukee Avenue, Northbrook

·Saturday, April 23 • 10 am

Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, 12545 W 111th St, Lemont

·Saturday, May 28 • 10 am

Trailside Museum of Natural History, 738 Thatcher Ave, River Forest

Bird the Preserves

These events are part of our “Bird the Preserves” series. Support for this project was generously provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through Chicago Wilderness.

·Fort Dearborn Audubon Birding Trip in Palos Preserves

Search lakes of the Palos region for spring waterfowl and other migrants. Contact leader to register: Mark Luscombe, 312-307-3928.

Saturday, March 12 • 9 am

Little Red School House Nature Center, 9800 Willow Springs Rd, Willow Springs

·Birds and the Cook County Forest Preserves

Judy Pollock of Living Habitats shares some unique birds found in the Cook County Forest Preserves and places to see them along with a mini-program on bird songs and calls. She will also share more info about local bird conservation projects, tips on bird finding, and the “Big Year” project.

Monday, March 14 • 7:30 pm

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N Cannon Dr, Chicago

·Evanston North Shore Bird Club Annual Memorial Ralph Herbst Duck Trip

Search lakes of the Palos region for spring waterfowl. Will be canceled if ponds are frozen. Visit for updates and contact information.

Sunday, March 20 • 7:30 am

McGinnis Slough, 13598 South La Grange Rd, Orland Park

·Evanston North Shore Bird Club Perkins Woods Birding Trip

Look for warblers and other migrants (also spring wildflowers). Street Parking. Meet at the corner of Ewing Ave and Grant St. Visit for updates and contact information.

Thursday, May 5 • 7:30 am

Perkins Woods, 2353 Ewing Ave, Evanston

·Lake Cook Audubon Society Birding Trip

Land bird migrants are here! Crabtree is a great place to find them. Visit for updates and contact information.

Thursday, May 5, 2016 • 8 am

Crabtree Nature Center, 3 Stover Rd, Barrington Hills

·Evanston North Shore Bird Club Skokie Lagoons Birding Trip

These Friday trips pack a great list of warbler species. Visit for updates and contact information.

Friday, May 6 • 7:30 am

Erickson Woods Parking Lot, 1651 Willow Rd, Winnetka

·Lake Cook Audubon Society Birding Trip to Palos Area Preserves

Half-day multi-stop trip to look for migrant birds. Visit for updates and contact information.

Saturday, May 14 • 7 am

McClaughry Springs, S Kean Ave north of 119th St, Palos Hills

·Evanston North Shore Bird Club Skokie Lagoons Birding Trip

These Friday trips pack a great list of warbler species. Visit for updates and contact information.

Friday, May 20 • 7:30 am

Erickson Woods Parking Lot, 1651 Willow Rd, Winnetka



O: 708-771-1159 • C: 312-882-7939

536 N Harlem Ave • River Forest, IL 60305


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