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Although many consider the winter a time of staying in and getting cozy, it’s also the perfect time to see your favorite hiking trail turn into a beautiful winter wonderland. Nothing beats hiking on a path and seeing the trees transformed into snow covered statuettes, hearing the crunch of snow under your feet and rewarding yourself after with some hot cocoa. If you’re willing to go the extra mile and bundle up, here are some beautiful places to take a walk or hike in the Chicago Southland this winter.

The Little Red School House Nature Center in Willow Springs is a personal favorite, with both sprawling grasslands and tree covered paths that look incredibly beautiful covered in pristine snow. With over 3 ½ miles of walking trail, it’s a perfect path to take when you’re up for some gorgeous winter sights. Get more information here.

Photographed by Orlando Gonzalez

Old Plank Road Trail is a 22-mile trail that spans throughout the Chicago Southland, connecting towns like Joliet, Frankfort, New Lenox and Matteson. The trail also passes right through Historic Downtown Frankfort, which is sure to look fantastic with lighted trees and everything covered in a light layer of snow. Be sure to check out more information here.

Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve in Beecher is another fantastic location for a brisk but beautiful winter hike. With multiple sprawling paths around the entire 891-acre preserve, Goodenow Grove is a fantastic location to go for a trek and see the sights. It’s also just one part of Plum Creek preservation system, which makes up multiple preserves and totals in over 2,300 acres. If you’re looking for multiple trails and preserves to hike along, start at Goodenow Grove and make your way around all of Plum Creek’s beautiful locations. You can find more information here.

The Cook County Forest Preserves are home to over 30 trails to hike, bike and walk along. From Busse Forest Trail to Cal-Sag to Orland Grassland Trails, there’s never a trail too far away from home or any area hotel. The Cook County Forest Preserves even host snowshoe events at some locations when the snow really starts to pile up, so you can go for walks in traditional snowshoes to stay above the drifts. To find information on all the great trails and nature preserves, including which have snowshoe options, be sure to click here.

The Irons Oaks Environmental Learning Center in Olympia Fields is over 38 acres and is a beautiful location for those looking to get outdoors. They offer snowshoe rentals for those snowy hikes as well as equipment for cross-country skiing! It’s perfect for anyone looking to enjoy some winter-season recreational activities.

If you’re looking to explore more trails or see which are nearest to you, view our Chicago Southland Trails App.

Winter can be the best season to go for hikes and walks, as the season of snow can offer new beautiful sights or a drastic change to a familiar trail. If you do plan on endeavoring on one of these treks, be sure to dress warmly and stay safe.

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