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Patch Picks For Fall Foliage

Find ways to enjoy the beautiful colors in and around town.

After a long hot summer, the crisp air of fall and the bright colors of the leaves are a refreshing change. Take this opportunity to get outside for a walk or a bike ride in one of the many beautiful places we've found to enjoy the foliage. Or let us know where you like best in the comments section below.

Heller Nature Center, Highland Park
This 97-acre property maintained by the park district offers three miles of marked trails for casual strolls to admire the scenery or serious nature hikes, as the land is maintained as a haven for native plants and animals. Here you'll find a forest, prairie, wetlands and savanna. Visitors can bring picnics on the trails through this oak-hickory forest, but must leave bikes and motorized vehicles in the parking lot.

Kent Fuller Air Station Priarie, Glenview
A walk on the trails through this Compass Road site at the old Glenview Naval Air Station will make you dizzy. Do you look up to catch sight of the fabulous fall colors that surround you and the red-tailed hawks that circle overhead, or down for a glimpse of the rare native vegetation and the occasional crayfish? Either way, you can't lose.

On the Links
A good game of golf is nothing more than a well paced, well landscaped nature hike. And with the current rush of Indian Summer the local links are sure to be full of outdoor enthusiasts. Enjoy the changing leaves at one of our your favorite local courses, including the Wilmette Golf Club, Sportsmans Country Club (which just installed a new drainage system) in Northbrook, and the Glenview Park Golf Club. Weather permitting, courses could be open as late at Thanksgiving.

North Branch Trail System, Cook County Forest Preserve District
This trail for cyclists and walkers will take you right through the Skokie Lagoons, a chain of waterways immediately east of the Edens Expressway, between Willow and Lake Cook roads. Pack a lunch and stop at one of the many picnic areas along the way. Trails are open from sunrise to sunset, and dogs must be leashed and in control at all time - the Forest Preserve District says so.

Ryerson Woods, Deerfield
Officially the Edward L. Ryerson Conservation Area, this north suburban gem of 556 acres includes six miles of flat trails through the woods, where the really lucky will spy one of the many rare creatures that call the woods their home. Look online to learn more about why the leaves change colors before you go to check them out.

Techny Prairie Park, Northbrook
Northbrook Park District Communication Specialist Gail Baritz said this space is a sure bet for fall colors. More than two miles of trails take you past the park's tree-lined eastern edge to an expanse of prairie plants along the award-winning Trail Through Time, a natural history walk in a restored wetland.

"The trails and walkways provide a chance to step aside from the daily routine and enjoy the fresh air, peaceful setting and seasonal colors," Baritz said.

Your local park
If you think your yard is beautiful this time of year, you should see your local park. Your park district will tell you what kind of surfaces are on the trail; the distance of each trail; and whether there's a playground, picnic area, or other park amenity nearby to make a day of your excursion. Search for walking trails or pathways at the websites maintained by the Northbrook Park District, Deerfield Park District, Wilmette Park District, Glenview Park District or Park District of Highland Park to find a green space near you.

Joanna Schneider October 05, 2011 at 05:17 PM
Fall is by far my favorite season! Crisp air, stunning colors, what's not to love? I definitely want to grab my bike and check out a few of these spots. Thanks for the round-up, Joanna!

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