Winter 2019 Conservationist

Challenge 2019

by Jayne Bohner, Communications & Marketing

It happens each year around this time: People start talking about resolutions. If you’re doing the same, why not resolve to make nature a bigger part of your life in 2019? (After all, spending time outdoors means a healthier body, sharper mind and happier you!) Here are four fun forest preserve challenges to jump-start the year.

Walk It. Bike It. Ski It.

DuPage forest preserves have 145 miles of trails from short loops to afternoon-long excursions. Make it your goal to plot a course across each one in 2019. Don’t know where to start? Pick up a copy of the Trails Guide at a forest preserve near you, or download one from There are maps of 24 preserves with 111.3 miles of trails guaranteed to keep you active well into the year.

This season you’ll see people on foot, snowshoe, cross-country ski and horseback, so you can’t use the weather as an excuse not to go. Just remember: Unless you’re a classic skier, please stay to the inside of the trail and off the set ski tracks. (Your classic ski friends thank you.)

Oldfield Oaks? Check. Cricket Creek? Check.

Set a goal to visit every forest preserve in the county this year. There are over 60, and no two are the same. Explore the native flower- and grass-covered landscape at West Chicago Prairie. Hike through the glacier-carved ridges at Waterfall Glen. Stroll along a restored stretch of the West Branch DuPage River at McDowell Grove.

The next time you’re at a preserve, pick up a Directory & Map, which has a chart listing each preserve and its features and habitats. Basic coordinates show you which corner of the county you need to head toward, and the list gives you a convenient way to check off the ones you visit.

Earn extra credit on this challenge with a visit to a Forest Preserve District education center. Take a guided tour of the 1890s farmhouse museum at Kline Creek Farm, or learn how “the other half” lived in the 1920s on a tour of Mayslake Hall. Discover the plants and animals that call (or called) DuPage home through displays and activities at Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center, or say hello to the animals that live at Willowbrook Wildlife Center. And don’t forget to see the herd in the Kentucky-style barn at the Danada Equestrian Center.

Try It. You’ll Like It.

Challenge yourself to try a new outdoor activity. Whether it’s archery, fishing or kayaking (yes, the forest preserves have places to do all three), there’s a ranger-led program that’ll show you how to do it. You’ll get expert instruction and a chance to try equipment before investing in your own. (Why buy tip-ups and an auger when you can first use ours by registering for “Ice Fishing for Families”?) Have a group of 10 or more looking for an activity to enjoy together? Call 630-933-7247 and let us put together a special program just for you.

Through February, try something new and check a few miles off our trail challenge by renting a pair of snowshoes. When there’s plenty of snow on the trails, rentals are available at Visitor Services, Blackwell and Fullersburg Woods.


Make it a goal to give back to the places you love by becoming a volunteer. The Forest Preserve District has 10 programs with volunteer opportunities ranging from agricultural interpreter to trail patrol partner. Visit and click “Get Involved” and “Volunteer” to browse through your options.

Interested in making a difference in nature over an afternoon this winter (and getting some of that great outdoor activity)? Register for a “Volunteer Restoration Workday”. The benefits of being in nature multiply when you add in the feel-good factor of giving back!

So what are you waiting for? Pick a challenge and make 2019 your healthiest, happiest year yet!