ENJOY A WINTER WALK AT SAND RIDGE NATURE CENTER
By Carrie Steinweg published January 22, 2024
If you’ve ever thought that things seem quieter and more peaceful in a winter wonderland, that’s because they really are. There’s science behind it. Freshly fallen snow actually absorbs sound. Air trapped in sponge-like snow keeps sounds waves from making their way to our ears. It creates a silence that is temporary, but captivating. Once the snow is packed down and mixed with ice, it loses its spongy texture and sound returns - or may even seem to amplify. But while the tranquility lasts, it can make a forest seem magical and almost otherworldly. So, next time the snowflakes start to fall, be sure to get out and take a soothing winter walk.
Sand Ridge Nature Center in South Holland, which is part of the Forest Preserves of Cook County, is a beautiful place to take one of those peaceful jaunts early in the year when the white stuff glistens on tree branches and untouched piles of white bury the green below.
Nestled in the woods not far from a busting shopping center, it’s an oasis in suburbia where you can connect with nature, get some exercise and appreciate the change that the seasons bring. In the quiet winter atmosphere, you almost get a sense of stepping back in time as you pass log cabins with snow-capped roofs.
You’ll also want to keep your eyes toward the sky if you love birds. With the trees bare of leaves, it’ll be easier to spot the native birds that call the Chicago Southland home.
A total of 3.9 miles of paths across the site includes walking trails that pass through a number of different habitats, from prairies to oak savannas to woodlands on ancient beaches and sand dunes along marshes and ponds. Sand Ridge Nature Center hours are 8AM to 4PM from November through February and then 8AM-5PM March through October. Please note that dogs are not permitted on trails.
One advantage to visiting Sand Ridge Nature Center for your winter walks is that there is a building with an accessible indoor bathroom at the start of the trails where you can warm up while pursuing the educational exhibits on display. The nature center is open Saturdays through Thursdays and closed on Fridays.
Also, be sure to check out their online event calendar for educational programming, birding meetups, guided nature walks and more at FPDCC.com. It’s also a good idea to peek at the website before you head out to see if there are any emergency closures. You’ll find a PDF of the Sand Ridge Campus Map on the website, as well.
Looking for other winter hiking spots? Check out our Biking & Hiking Trails App.
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