Day Three Hundred Fifty-six

One Less Goose?

We were headed in the same general direction to get a gift card so we stopped for a walk around the Monee Reservoir, a Will County Forest Preserve. Most of the preserve is water, and the Canada geese really like the place. There had to be hundreds when we arrived, and wave after wave of noisy new arrivals landed while we were there.Monee ResevoirThe unpaved trail was quite muddy so we stuck to the paved trail, driveway, and empty parking lot. We enjoyed looking around the preserve which seems, not surprisingly, to be used primarily for fishing.

As we turned to walk towards the large picnic grove, my husband saw two coyotes running across the field, likely looking for a goose dinner. I was lucky to get a few shots!
CoyotesIMG_2437Good walk!

Day Three Hundred Thirty-four

Back to Cranberry Slough

Back on Day 320, my husband had a meeting and was unable to join us on a walk around Cranberry Slough, part of the Palos Trail System of the Cook County Forest Preserve near Palos Park, Illinois. Since my husband and middle son, home for Thanksgiving weekend, would be joining me today, I thought they would enjoy the unusual topography and great views, and we headed back.

Cranberry Slough1Unfortunately, in the two weeks since the last time we were here, the remainder of the leaves have fallen or turned the dull brown of late fall. But on a positive note, the full sun, low in the sky, gave us some great lighting for a family walk through the woods.Cranberry Slough 2I have only one month to go on my walking resolution! My 2013 grail bird, the pileated woodpecker, remains yet unseen. We did see some large square holes in dead trees near the trail, and I wonder if it could mean that there have been some in these woods . . .

Good walk!

Day Three Hundred Thirty

Elk in Elk Grove Village and a Bonus Bridge

I was up at O’Hare International Airport today dropping off my oldest son for a flight. I had some time afterwards and decided to head to the Busse Woods Forest Preserve for a walk. My youngest son, off for parent-teacher conferences joined me. We walked a different portion of this preserve back in August on Day 220 and saw butterflies galore. Today, we came to see the elk.

Elk Grove WoodsThe forest preserve district started the herd at this location in 1925. The adjacent town of Elk Grove Village was named for the native herd of elk that roamed here in the 1800s. Today’s elk watched us very carefully from behind the fenced-in area as we walked by on the snow-covered paved trail.

What I didn’t realize until we arrived was that we’d get to cross busy Higgins Road on a nice pedestrian/bike bridge.
Elk Grove Woods BridgeMy son and I always love a good bridge.

Good walk!

Day Three Hundred Twenty-eight

Stairs and Heading in the Opposite Direction

This afternoon, after raking up leaves for the final pick-up of the season, we drove to Swallow Cliff Woods of the Cook County Forest Preserve. We have visited this preserve in Palos Park, Illinois, before but planned a different route in the Sag Valley Trail System today.

We started our planned walk, a counter-clockwise loop, by climbing the 125 limestone stairs constructed in 1930 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. I did slightly better on this demanding climb today than the last time we were here (and I mean very slightly better). When we got to the top, however, a woman was having trouble controlling her large dog and was sort of blocking the trail. With my youngest son’s struggles with dogs (one of his autism “things”), we ended up turning right around and going down the stairs to walk our route in the opposite, clockwise direction. So, we ended up doing those stairs for nothing–except our health! (Our daughter, who rode along with us today, actually did the stairs the entire time we walked. Yikes.)

We headed out on the Yellow Trail and under LaGrange Avenue. We took the Purple Trail cut and looped back under LaGrange and towards the top of the stairs. The two mile hike was mostly through hilly forest and was lovely. Even though it was cooler than average, the sun was bright, and it was a great day for a walk!

Swallow Cliff Woods EastOf note:

  • We passed far too many ash trees, victims of the emerald ash borer, marked for removal.
  • We passed two horseback riders and saw numerous bike tracks. No wonder there were so many posted signs about right of way on this wonderful multi-use trail.
  • We ended up passing the lady with the dog, by then thankfully under control, as we neared the top of that stairway. We couldn’t help but wonder what she was doing that whole time . . .  

Great walk!

Day Three Hundred Twenty-one


Thankfully, the storm that spawned a number of tornadoes today only caused a few downed trees in our area. Our hearts go out to the folks in Washington, Illinois, for the damages and losses they sustained.

After the storm, the high winds continued for hours, but we decided we needed a walk anyhow, so we headed to the Black Trail Loop of the Tinley Creek Cook County Forest Preserve.

Post-StormThe cloud formations were really interesting. The gusty winds slowed us down a bit, but we enjoyed the fresh air anyhow. Good walk!

Day Three Hundred Twenty

Cranberry Slough

I wasn’t sure I’d get a walk in today at all after watching last night’s weather forecast. So when I woke early and saw that it wasn’t raining yet, I donned my walking shoes and walked up to the grocery store for breakfast supplies. When the heavy mists hit me squarely in the glasses on my walk back, I figured this would be the extent of my walking today. However, by the time I had the Saturday morning french toast cleaned up, the weather had cleared up too. We decided to go ahead with a walk, but wore rain gear and packed plastic bags for the electronics, just in case.


My oldest and youngest sons joined me today on the Yellow and Tan Trails in the Palos Trail System of the Cook County Forest Preserve. I have read good things about the area surrounding the Cranberry Slough and planned our route around it.

I have really enjoyed planning walks in this area and in the nearby Sag Valley Trail System. There are many intersecting unpaved trails of various lengths, giving plenty of hiking, biking, and equestrian options. It’s a great example of public natural space.

On today’s route, the water, the curvy oak-lined trails, and the slightly hilly terrain made for an interesting three-mile walk. (And it didn’t even rain!)

Cranberry Slough

I would love to see what this place looks like in the summer. I guess I will just have to go back!

Day Three Hundred Fifteen

An Oak Forest in Oak Forest (Illinois)

With our weather forecast showing dropping temperatures and rain turning to snow, we headed out fairly early for a walk this morning. My youngest son was off of school today for the Veteran’s Day holiday, so he and I headed to the Midlothian Reservoir in Oak Forest, Illinois.

We walked along the paved Blue Trail and then deep into the woods on the unpaved Yellow Trail of this Cook County Forest Preserve. Evidence suggested that this trail is used frequently for horseback riding, but we did not see any horses. In fact, but for a couple of deer and one jogger, we had the whole place to ourselves.

Oak forest in Oak ForestI’m pretty sure we’re past-peak as fall colors go, yet there was still actually some color and even some green left in these woods! I was also surprised to find a marshy pond in the middle of the woods, and I saw a great blue heron land on the other side of the water.

Oak forest in Oak Forest 2We ended up walking farther than I had planned, because I must have missed the turn-off that would have allowed us to loop around. Instead, we retraced our steps and came out the way we went in. Unfortunately with this delay, we got caught in a little rain, but with my camera tucked safely inside my rain-resistant jacket we were able to get back without getting too wet. I couldn’t resist pulling my camera out once though for a quick picture of a large hanging wasp nest!

Thank you, veterans, for your service.