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Forest Preserves of Cook County Fall Events Schedule Now Available

Thursday, September 01, 2016
Special to

Forest Preserves of Cook County Fall Events Schedule Now Available

Experience the beauty of warm autumn hues during fall in the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Cook County residents and visitors will find numerous opportunities in the Forest Preserves to get outside and enjoy nature’s warm colors and cool air.

Throughout the fall, visitors can enjoy hikes through groves of golden sugar maples, relaxing paddles beneath a sky full of migratory birds, and an evening with family and friends around campfires while spending a night under the stars at the Forest Preserves five campgrounds.

The Forest Preserves’ six Nature Centers are a great place for free educational fun along with a number of other events and activities which are planned in the Preserves throughout the season. With nearly 70,000 acres of land and various habitats such as forest woodlands, wetlands, prairie and savanna, fall also provides an excellent opportunity to bird and wildlife watch, practice photography, and appreciate the variances of Cook County’s different landscapes as they make their seasonal transition.

For a complete list of fall events in the Forest Preserves of Cook County or to download the seasonal brochure, visit


A River Thru History, Des Plaines Valley Rendezvous

Saturday, Sept 10 • 10 am – 5 pm Sunday, Sept 11 • 10 am – 4 pm

Columbia Woods, Willow Springs Rd & Corcoran Rd, Willow Springs

Look back 200 years to frontier life and enjoy food, music, crafts, reenactments, canoe races, games and more. Park free at UPS parking lot at Willow Springs Rd and 75th St and take the shuttle bus to event site. Adult admission $10; family pass $25; senior (over 62) $5; children (6-17) $5. Free for kids under 6. Cash only. Check out

Fishin’ Buddies Fall Fishing Derby

Saturday, Sept 10 • 10 am – 2 pm

Wampum Lake, I-90/94 &Thornton Lansing Rd, Thornton-Lansing

This annual family fishing derby is perfect for all skill levels. Register at

Migrating Monarchs Celebration

Sunday, Sept 11 • Noon – 3 pm

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

Learn about this amazing globe-trotting butterfly and trace its migration route through fun activities, crafts and displays. See how monarchs are raised and tagged for tracking. Learn how you can help monarchs and other pollinators! Family event.

Archaeology Day

Saturday, Sept 17 • 10 am – 3 pm

Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 Paxton, South Holland

Join us for a day of activities to promote appreciation of Native American culture. Enjoy local archaeology displays, guided hikes, activities and crafts.

63rd Annual American Indian Pow Wow

Saturday, Sept 17 • 10 am – 7 pm; Grand Entries at Noon and 5 pm

Sunday, Sept 18 • 10 am – 5 pm; Grand Entry at Noon

Busse Woods South, Groves 17 & 18, Higgins Rd east of I-290, Elk Grove Village

This event features Native American dance, drumming, food, art wares and fun. Don’t miss traditional dance competitors from all over the country! In partnership with the American Indian Center of Chicago. Admission $10–15.

Art in Nature

Sunday, Sept 18 • 10 am – 4 pm

Crabtree Nature Center, 3 Stover Rd, Barrington Hills

Watch artists as they paint along our scenic trails. Listen to live music, view additional artwork for sale and vote for your favorite artist. Try your hand at drawing or painting your own watercolor, materials and instruction provided. Children can sculpt with clay, paint or draw.

Party for the Preserves

Saturday, Sept 24

Join us at one of our five new campgrounds to celebrate the Forest Preserves’ nearly 70,000 acres of public land on National Public Lands Day! Each campground will have a variety of fun activities that highlight outdoor adventures, restoration, nature exploration and cultural discovery. Daytime activities are free, and stay for the evening campground parties that will include food, drink and fun throughout the night.

·Camp Bullfrog Lake: Lose Yourself in the Wild

Camp Bullfrog Lake, 9600 Wolf Rd, Willow Springs

Escape the city and meet us at one of the densest wilderness areas in Cook County for a relaxing day filled with yoga, paddling, fishing and astronomy. We’ll end the day with music, food and drink.

·Camp Dan Beard: You Are Your Greatest Tool: A Guide to Self-reliance

Camp Dan Beard, 200 Portwine Rd, Northbrook

Calling all veteran and rookie DIY-ers! Join us at Camp Dan Beard for a day of building and creative re-use while honing navigation and primitive skills. The day will end with DIY stories, songs and food around a fire.

·Camp Reinberg: Restore the Preserves; Restore Yourself

Camp Reinberg, 1801 N Quentin Rd, Palatine

Take the time to restore some of the picturesque land in our oldest preserve surrounding Camp Reinberg and then restore yourself with music, food, relaxation and rest.

·Camp Shabbona Woods: Block Party

Camp Shabbona Woods, 15810 N Torrence Ave, South Holland

Join us in this urban preserve for a block party celebration! Hikes to Sand Ridge Nature Center, nature play, music and more. Enjoy an outdoor movie and a DJ and dancing at the end of the day.

·Camp Sullivan: Little Tykes, Haunted Hikes and Historic Hoe-downs

Camp Sullivan, 14630 Oak Park Ave, Oak Forest

Camp Sullivan boasts proximity to Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery, well known for its haunted reputation and reported ghost sightings and a newly restored barn. Try our new climbing wall, play nature games and enjoy a hike to Bachelor’s Grove. Nature Cat from the PBS Kids show will be joining us! Get down to live music at a good old-fashioned barn dance at the end of the day.

Annual Arts and Crafts Fair

Sunday, Oct 2 • 9 am – 3 pm

Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center, 9800 Willow Springs Rd, Willow Springs

We’re celebrating our 51st Annual Arts and Craft Fair! Art, of all styles, will be sold by artists inspired by nature.

An Evening at Trailside

Friday, Oct 7 • 5 – 8 pm

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

Get up close and personal with your neighborhood Nature Center. Enjoy children’s crafts, mini-nature programs, storytelling and snacks around a campfire, and much more.

GITy UP!: A Trails for Illinois Event

Saturday, Oct 8 – Sunday, Oct 9

Camp Bullfrog Lake, 9600 Wolf Rd, Willow Springs

GITy Up! is a bite-sized, overnight bike camping and trail running adventure along the Forest Preserves’ Palos trail system, which was described as “one of the finest trail systems in the country” by Runners World in 2011. Visit for more information and to register.

Fall Fishing Derby with the Village of Palos Park at Horsetail Lake

Saturday, Oct 8 • 8 – 11:30 am

Horsetail Lake, 123rd and 104th Avenue, Palos Park

Bring your fishing rod or we will have ones to borrow for a fun day of fishing. Prizes awarded in different age groups for the largest fish caught. Fishing license exempt for this date and location. Call 708-671-3760 for more information. In cooperation with the Village of Palos Park and sponsored by BassPro Shop Bolingbrook.

Fall Festival

Sunday, Oct 16 • 10 am – 4 pm

River Trail Nature Center, 3120 Milwaukee Ave, Northbrook

Join us as we celebrate the season with a special day of autumn fun. Storytelling, beekeeping demonstrations, pumpkin painting, honey, hay rides and more! Admission is free; there are small fees for some activities or bring non-perishable food items to donate to The Greater Chicago Food Depository in exchange for activity tickets. 1 item=1 ticket.

Leave No Child Inside: Family Fun Day!

Saturday, Oct 22 • 11 am – 2 pm

Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 Paxton, South Holland

Bring the kids to spend some time outside and have fun with our naturalist staff. We will have games, a nature scavenger hunt and more.

44th Annual Settlers’ Day

Sunday, Nov 20 • 10 am – 3 pm

Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 Paxton, South Holland

Celebrate our heritage by stepping back into America’s past with costumed living-history demonstrators, history hikes and crafts. Admission is free, but we are accepting donations for a local food depository.

Forest Jams

Head out to our concert series and participate in group jam sessions, learn about making instruments from natural and recycled materials, and enjoy concerts by local musicians. Pre-activities start at 5:30 pm. Concert runs from 6:30 to 8 pm. For more information, call 312-415-2970 or email

·Thursday, Sept 1

Dan Ryan Woods, 87th and Western Ave, Chicago

·Thursday, Sept 8

Cummings Square, 536 N Harlem Ave, River Forest

Family Night Out – Star, Stories and S’mores

Bring your family and friends for an opportunity to enjoy an evening in the Forest Preserves. Come join us for a cozy fire, s’mores, storytelling, astronomy, night hikes, natural material building and other nature-based activities. For more information, call 312-415-2970 or email

·Friday, Oct 21 • 5 – 8 pm

Thatcher Woods, 8030 Chicago Ave, River Forest

·Friday, Oct 28 • 5 – 8 pm

Eggers Grove, 11201 S Avenue B, Chicago

Dia de los Muertos Theme

·Friday, Nov 4 • 5 – 8 pm

Rolling Knolls, 11N260 Rohrssen Road, Elgin

·Friday, Nov 11 • 5 – 8 pm

Swallow Cliff, 10267 Calumet Sag Rd, Palos Hills

·Friday, Nov 18 • 5 – 8 pm

Dan Ryan Woods Pavilion, 87th and Western, Chicago

·Friday, Dec 2 • 5 – 8 pm

Caldwell Woods Warming Shelter, 6350 W Devon Ave, Chicago

Family Campout

Check-in: Saturday, Oct 1 • 1 pm or 3 pm

Check-out: Sunday Oct 2 • 11 am

Camp Bullfrog Lake, 9600 Wolf Rd, Willow Springs

This special overnight event for families is a great intro to camping. Basic skills training, a cookout and outdoor activities are included. Check-in at 1 pm to join us for the Fall Paddle — for camping only, check in at 3 pm. The cost is $75 for family groups up to 6. Camperships are available for families with financial need. For more information and to register, email


Archery equipment is provided for all programs. Call 312-533-5751 for more information or to reserve a spot. All archery programs are for ages 10 & up.

·Archery 101

Never tried archery before? Attend one of these sessions to learn all things archery: history, bow parts and proper technique.

oWednesday, Sept 14 • 5 – 7 pm

Thatcher Woods, 8030 W Chicago Ave, River Forest

oTuesday, Oct 25 • 4 – 6 pm

Dan Ryan Woods, Grove 5, 87th and Western, Chicago

oWednesday, Nov 9 • 4 – 6 pm

National Grove — South, 29th St, North Riverside

·Swallow Cliff Archery Day

Saturday, Nov 5 • 11 am – 1 pm

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

Enjoy a Saturday with an afternoon of archery fun. Open to those with all levels of experience. Learn from a certified instructor, share tips and enjoy the outdoors.

Outdoor Adventures

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

·Animal Olympics
Wednesday, Sept 21 • 5 – 7 pm

Rolling Knolls, 11N260 Rohrssen Road, Elgin
See how your abilities compare with those of native animals. This unique challenge teaches how animals move, collect food and make homes. All ages.

·Canoe & Archery Skills Class
Wednesday, Oct 19 • 4:30 – 7 pm

Powderhorn Lake, 13843-14387 S Brainard, Burnham
We will be showcasing two of our most popular outdoor activities in the same night. First, Forest Preserves instructors will lead a paddling class—teaching proper paddling strokes and parts of a canoe. We will end the evening with an archery workshop where participants will get the opportunity to learn first-hand how to correctly shoot a bow and arrow. Ages 10 & up.

·All About Fire
Tuesday, Nov 15 • 5 – 7 pm

Caldwell Woods Warming Shelter, 6350 W Devon Ave, Chicago
Discover the benefits of fire and what it can do for our land. Learn safe practices for fire building and containment, and then make your own fire! Marshmallows to conclude our evening of fun. All ages.

All paddle programs are for ages 5 & up.

·Fall Paddle Festival and Family Campout at Bullfrog Lake
Saturday, Oct 1 • 1 – 4 pm

9600 Wolf Rd, Willow Springs
Enjoy the fall season with a campout at Bullfrog Lake and activities on and off the water. We will have canoe trips, guided hikes, pumpkin painting and more. See the Family Campout description for more information about staying overnight.

·Paint & Paddle at Busse Woods
Thursday, Oct 6 • 10 am – 12:30 pm

Main Pool Boat Launch, Elk Grove Village
Get inspired by the fall colors and create a piece of art to take home. We will spend some time canoeing on Busse Lake followed by an art instructor-led palette knife class to create a painting. Supplies and equipment are provided. Call 312-533-5751 for more information or to reserve a spot. Space is limited.

·Fall Paddle Festival at Skokie Lagoons
Saturday, Oct 15 • 1 – 4 pm
Tower Road Boat Launch, Tower Rd east of I-94, Northfield
Enjoy the fall season with activities on and off the water. We will have canoe trips, guided hikes, archery, pumpkin painting and more.

Hiking 101

Hiking 101 is a free workshop series designed to teach basic day-hiking skills. Learn the 10 essential items to bring on a hike, proper hike planning techniques, hiking etiquette and Leave No Trace, map reading and how to use a compass. No registration is required. Not suitable for ages 9 yrs. and younger. Participants 10–14 yrs. old must be accompanied by an adult. Event hosted Tuesdays from 5:30-7 pm.

·Sept 13, Oct 11, Nov 8

Camp Reinberg, 1801 N Quentin Rd, Palatine

·Sept 27, Oct 25, Nov 22

Camp Bullfrog Lake, 9600 Wolf Rd, Willow Springs

Camping 101

Camping 101 is a free, hands-on workshop series designed to teach basic camping skills to families and novice campers. Learn tent set-up, campfire building, dressing for camping, camping etiquette and more. No registration is required. Event hosted Wednesdays from 5:30-7 pm.

·Sept 7, Sept 28, Oct 26

Camp Reinberg, 1801 N Quentin Rd, Palatine

·Sept 14, Oct 5, Nov 2

Camp Shabbona Woods, 15810 S Torrence Ave, South Holland

·Sept 21, Oct 12, Nov 9

Camp Dan Beard, 200 Portwine Rd, Northbrook

·Sept 21, Oct 19, Nov 16

Camp Bullfrog Lake, 9600 Wolf Rd, Willow Springs

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