Fall colors are approaching their peak as cool weather nears, and now’s the time to plan day trips to get a front row view.
Will and southern Cook counties, just west of Lake County, offer plenty of opportunities to see fall’s colors as the beauty of northeast Illinois’ forest preserves serve as the backdrop.
Here are a few spots in that part of the region to see this year’s changing leaves of Autumn.
Goodenow Grove in Beecher is part of the Forest Preserve District of Will County and features a wide variety of trees that showcase several shades of reds, yellows and oranges.
“It has really good fall color, lots of Oaks, Hickories, Ashes, Cherry and a few Maples combine for a pretty good show of color,” said Bob Bryerton, facility coordinator for the forest preserve. “Going up on top of the sled hill and taking in the view is a really great way to enjoy all the colors.”
The 891-acre preserve features 1.77 miles of natural surface trail, as well as 0.51 miles of paved trail. It’s also home to the Plum Creek Nature Center, which can provide more information on hot spots within the park system.
Kankakee River State Park
Located in Bourbonnais, the Kankakee River State Park features miles of trails that run along both sides of the river.
Kathy Pangle, site superintendent at the park, said the bike trail is one of the best places within the park to see fall’s colors.
The bicycle trail begins at the Davis Creek Area and travels 10.5 miles along the river, looping in the west end of the park.
Looking for a pretty drive?
Karen Vaughan, director of communications with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, said Bluff Road in Lemont, between Lemont Road and I-355, is a great choice.
Bluff Road runs along a bluff beside Black Partridge Woods and overlooks the Des Plaines River Valley, as well as a wetland.
Raccoon Grove Forest Preserve
Located in Monee, this forest preserve is another location not to miss.
“It’s smaller and there is only one trail, but the entire trail is in the woods and the trees put on a good show,” Bryerton said. “You are in the trees the entire trail – no openings.”
On your way to the preserve along Pauling Road, check out the several maple trees that turn a golden yellow color throughout the fall, he said.
The Monee Reservoir’s water provides beautiful reflections of the changing leaves, Bryerton said.
“The trees make a great backdrop to the lake and the combination can be stunning on a calm fall day with the water reflecting the trees’ color,” he said.
Monee Reservoir is located at Ridgeland Road and Pauling Road in Monee.
Cottage Grove Avenue
Cottage Grove Avenue/Thorn Creek Road in Thorton provides a pleasant, curving trip past Sweet, Zander and Jurgensen Woods, Vaughan said.
For the best show, stay between Thorton-Lansing Road and Glenwood-Lansing Road.