As winter stretches on and cabin fever starts to set in, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County offers plenty of outdoor activities to help beat the winter blues.
From tubing to snowshoeing to a horse-drawn carriage rides, you might be surprised by some of the offerings at your local forest preserve and might just find something that will coax you outdoors. Here is a look at some of those activities:
Tubing and Snowshoeing at Mount Hoy/Blackwell Forest PreserveMount Hoy at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenveille offers tubing down a 800-foot run and a chance to explore surrounding trails by snowshoe.
The hill will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends and school holidays, December through February when three inches of snow covers it.
This includes winter break from Dec. 23 through Jan. 3 and also Jan. 20 and Feb. 17. T
Only Forest Preserve District inner tubes are permitted on Mount Hoy. Tubes are $5 per tube per day. Snowshoes are $5 for two hours or $10 per day. Tube rentals end at 3:30 p.m. and snowshoe rentals end at 2 p.m.
Visitors can use their own snowshoes at most DuPage preserves.
Horse-Drawn Sleigh Rides at Danada Equestrian Center
You can take a 15-minute ride through prairies and woodlands as you learn about historic Danada preserve, 3S507 Naperville Road in Wheaton. Wagons are used in place of sleighs when there is less than 4 inches of packed snow on the trail.
Passengers load behind the main barn 30 minutes prior to the first ride.
Rides are offered from noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday in January and February.
Cost for sleigh rides is $5 per person ages 13 and up; $2 ages 5 – 12; under 5 free. Cash and checks only. All are first-come, first-served. In the event of severe weather, rides will be canceled.
Groups larger than 15 are encouraged to reserve a private horse-drawn hayride or sleigh ride on another day and time. Hayrides can be tailored to accommodate the needs of small to large groups of up to 500. For more information about availability and pricing, call the center at (630) 668-6012.
Visitors can use their own cross-country skis at most DuPage preserves.
When conditions permit, staff members groom trails for classical and freestyle cross-country skiing at the following forest preserves: Blackwell, Danada, Fullersburg Woods, Greene Valley, Herrick Lake, Hidden Lake, Mallard Lake, Meacham Grove, Springbrook Prairie, Waterfall Glen and West DuPage Woods.
All trail users are asked to take care not to damage tracks that have been set.
Ice fishing is permitted on most forest preserve waters unless otherwise posted.
As a guideline, not a guarantee, a minimum of 4 inches of ice is recommended for fishing, skating and other ice activities. Each angler is permitted no more than two ice fishing holes. Ice holes should be limited to 10 inches in diameter.
Only portable shelters are permitted and must be removed when not in use. Ice conditions are not monitored by rangers, so ice fishing is done at an angler’s own risk.
Anglers should note that ice may be safe in one spot yet very thin only a few feet away. River currents, underwater springs, animal activity or runoff from local roads can all create hard-to-detect areas of thin ice. Remember, no ice should be considered totally safe.
Ice Skating and Sledding
The District allows sledding and ice skating at visitors' own risk at all forest preserves. Neither requires a permit and cost is free. As a guideline, not a guarantee, a minimum of 4 inches of ice is recommended for any ice activity.
When snow conditions allow, mushers can “gee” and “haw” on select trails at two forest preserves:
- Blackwell Forest Preserve in Regional, Bobolink and connector trails north of McKee Marsh at Blackwell Forest Preserve.
- Greene Valley Forest Preserve Thunderbird Spur Trail in Naperville at the parking lot on Thunderbird Road.
Source: Forest Preserve District of DuPage County website