Cook County Illinois fall foliage
In between a trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and a weekend camping in Wisconsin, I enjoyed a couple of hikes in my home state of Illinois. The purpose of these outings were to view fall foliage. I visited Crabtree Nature Center in Barrington, Busse Woods in Schaumburg, and Pottawatomie Woods in Wheeling.
While the views in Illinois do not match up to nearby states with more impressive stands of trees, the colors here hold their own. The peak time for colors in northern Illinois is the middle of October. Leaves are mostly down by Halloween.
Crabtree Nature Center
Crabtree Nature Center is located in South Barrington on Palatine Road. The two major trails are the Burr Ridge and the Phantom Prairie. Both are excellent for viewing fall foliage. The Phantom Prairie is a two mile walk in the prairie and has excellent views back into the woods.
The prairie also turns an almost burgundy or golden brown during the fall. The color of the prairie is outstanding, especially when framed against the colors of the trees. The park closes early at 5:30, so make sure you get here early.
Busse Woods Forest Preserve in Schaumburg is right next door to Woodfield Shopping Mall. Hard to believe one can find fall foliage right next to one of the biggest shopping areas around. Busse Woods has a network of ponds with tree covered shorelines which make for great photographic opportunities. The place is criss-crossed with bike trails and roads, so it is easy to get around and also a great place to kayak and canoe.
Pottawatomie Woods is located in Wheeling just east of Milwaukee Road on Dundee Road. The Des Plaines River flows through the forest preserve and there are a nice group of hardwood trees located here. There are plenty of options to explore here including canoeing, walking, biking, or tooling around in the car.
Illinois is not known for its forests, so the best fall colors in the area is found farther north in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. This does not mean that northern Illinois should just be written off, especially if you live here. There are plenty of forest preserves in the area featuring impressive woods for a city and suburban environment. You can visit the three that I mentioned, but there are hundreds of other options in the area.
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