Staying Warm and Safe in the Outdoors


LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve. Photo by Naturalist Erica Lemon.

The temperatures have dropped, leaves have fallen, and ice covers the ground. It’s officially winter here in Kane County! Although the greenery may be gone, there are still plenty of things to do and places to explore in Kane County’s forest preserves.  The preserves remain open 365 days of the year, and trails offer a look into the winter wonderland that our preserves transform into during these months. Hiking in the winter is different than in other seasons, and it is important to ensure you are taking all precautions to keep yourself safe and warm in the outdoors. Keep reading to learn about some safety measures you can take to make sure you have the safest experience outside.


Bring someone along or communicate your location. This is an important precaution to take, as going out into the wilderness alone without anyone having knowledge of your location can be dangerous. Be sure to express to others where you’ll be going and about how long you expect to be outside. Or, bring someone along with you! This will not only make your trek safer, but provide company as well.


Dress warm and bring essentials. It’s well known that winter in Illinois can be very chilly at times. It’s best to dress in layers, and choose materials that will keep you warm. Winter boots will help to keep your feet warm as you shuffle through the snow, and wearing two layers of gloves rather than one can be helpful in keeping hands dry. It’s very important to remember to cover any exposed skin, such as your face and neck. Bring other necessary items such as water, food, and safety items such as a first aid kit.


Be aware of shortened daylight hours. Nighttime comes quickly in the winter, with the sun setting as early as 4:30 p.m. Plan outdoor activities for earlier in the day and keep a watch or phone on you to keep track of time. This will help you avoid getting stuck in the dark, and make the most of the daylight! Visibility can also be lower in the wintertime with blowing snow, so pack navigation tools such as a map to prevent losing track of where you are.


Pack a warm drink. Who doesn’t love a good hot cocoa break? In addition to water, bringing along a warm drink will help in keeping your body warm. Additionally, it will help to prevent dehydration, which can still be a danger in winter when exerting yourself. To prevent liquids from freezing, consider carrying them in a thermos or close your body.


Be prepared to turn around. Weather conditions can change quickly during the winter. It’s important to check conditions ahead of time and plan to end your activity early, if needed. If you feel the weather is getting worse, it’s best to head home to avoid a potential accident or getting lost. As always, prepare ahead of time and bring items you may need when facing rough weather such as a headlamp and extra clothing to keep you warm.

Learn more about Kane County’s Forest Preserves and programs at, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter @forestpreserve.

Scout Out Your Next Adventure

Calling all Scout leaders!

Are you looking for the next adventure for you and your scout group? Great news- with the Forest Preserve District of Kane County, you can discover local forest preserves with a Naturalist!

Our Naturalists can lead your group on an informative hike, or be the perfect complement to your campout! On informative hikes, a Naturalist will cover many different aspects of flora and fauna while helping your scouts work towards their next badge, patch, or pin. You can choose to do a “Seasonal Spotlight” hike that focuses on a variety of topics such as Spring Wildflowers, Trees and Their Leaves, The Amazing Prairie, Animal Tracks and Signs, and more. There are many exciting changes in the natural world every season, and we have a topic for every one of them! Complete with hands-on, interactive discussion and trail hiking, your scouts are sure to enjoy this excursion into nature.

scout hike Les Arends EL 11 2014

A Scout group inspects a tree trunk affected by beaver activity

All programs are 60-90 minutes long. Programs can be scheduled at any preserve and can be flexible depending on the needs of your group.  Reservations are required for these hikes. The fee is $2 per person with a minimum of $20 needed for a program. For more information about scheduling and fees, email or call 630-444-3190.

Creek Day: A Summer Camp Special

The best part of summer?  It depends on who you ask, but many would answer summer camp! A popular warm weather activity for generations both young and mature, camp has always been a time to explore nature and meet new friends. At the Forest Preserve District’s Week in the Woods summer camp, this still holds true! Throughout our week-long camps, there are a variety of activities every day such as crafts, outdoor games, and hikes that encourage kids to explore the natural world. A popular favorite activity of campers is Creek day, where they grab their bathing suits and head to Ferson Creek to play for the day. The creek is home to all kinds of aquatic creatures, such as crayfish, frogs, water skaters, and more; many of which we found on the most recent creek trip!



Our Naturalists and their campers search the water with their nets


We had a gorgeous, sunny day to get out and explore the creek with our nets! The water was perfect to splash around in and yielded many different creatures that we caught to examine then release back into the creek. When we weren’t searching for the next best creature to drift along, the campers enjoyed swimming and learning to skip rocks; many of them showed awesome talent with it! At the end of the trip, it was clear that the campers had learned so much and gained an amazing appreciation of the creek as a not just a fun place to play, but also a habitat for the many creatures they found! Enjoy the pictures below of the trip and some of their finds! Keep scrolling for information on how to give your kids the opportunity to explore this summer…



A tiny leopard frog



Our nets caught many crayfish!



A small nymph.



A crayfish inside our “specimen bin” that was shortly after returned to it’s habitat.



Another crayfish- these little guys were everywhere!



Fish on! This little one was quickly returned to the water after swimming into our nets.



One of our last finds of the day- a beautiful pair of shells.


Want your kids to explore the marvels of nature? Sign them up for Week in the Woods summer camp! Each nature camp runs for five days each, Monday through Friday. The dates are as follows:  “Summer Unplugged” August 5-August 9. Camp is for kids entering 1st-6th grade, and there is a fee of $175/child for the week. Advance registration is required, register by calling 630-444-3190 or email 

Make it Memorable: Host Your Next Event in the Beautiful Forest Preserves of St. Charles

Within the wooded areas of the forest preserves of St. Charles sits our beautiful rental facilities, ready to make your next event a memorable experience. Creek Bend Nature Center and Barbara Belding Lodge have hosted many special occasions including weddings, birthday parties, and corporate events. At both properties, guests are treated to the views of our woodland areas while enjoying the comfort of our updated facilities.


Creek Bend calls LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve home, sitting just a few steps away from the banks of Ferson Creek. The home dates back to the 1930s and has a rich history. It also holds the nature center, an interactive space where visitors can learn about the preserve and the many creatures that live within it. There are plenty of rooms to rent within the house, including the grounds that have seen many beautiful outdoor wedding ceremonies and receptions.





Photography by @Nicodem Creative


Nestled in the woods of Brewster Creek Forest Preserve, the cozy venue also known as Barbara Belding Lodge sits, surrounded by woodland. The lodge houses multiple meeting rooms, a catering kitchen, seating for over 100 people, and an expansive outdoor deck that gives visitors a stunning view of the forest. Built on the former grounds of the YWCA Camp Tu-Endie-Wei, the lodge and 27-acre preserve sit on the Brewster Creek greenway. Consider the lodge for your next special event to create a lasting memory for you and your guests!




Photography by @KristaWeberPhotography


If either of these properties catches your eye, we encourage you to come visit us during open tours on Wednesdays from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. We would love to show you what our venues can offer you and your event. For more details, call 630-444-3064 or email


Check out our Facebook pages for more pictures from events held at these venues: 



Best Birding Spots in Kane County Forest Preserves


A pelican is spotted at Dick Young Forest Preserve by Erica Lemon, District Naturalist

Within the trees that reside in the Forest Preserve District of Kane County lives a wide variety of birds big and small. Throughout the year, different species can be spotted across the county, making our forest preserves an excellent destination for avid birders. Although some seasons may bring more excitement than others, you’re sure to hear birdsong any time of year and identify at least a few of our flying friends. Wondering when and where to go birding in Kane County? Keep reading!

In any season there is guaranteed to be activity. Summer is typically quieter time as most birds are off rearing their young in nests and trees. However, you can still find and hear many species! Spring is considered one of the most exciting seasons for birding as there are not only many native species out, but migrating species visit during this time as well. Birds can be heard singing throughout the trees and found sporting their courtship plumage as they search for a mate. As for fall and winter, there are bird species aplenty as well; although you’ll have to brave the cold to see them! Owls are a popular bird seen during the wintry months, and the Great Horned Owl nests during this time- which has been found at multiple forest preserves in Kane County including Fabyan Forest Preserve and Johnson’s Mound.

Kane County’s forest preserves offer a range of landscapes and habitats, which makes for a great variety of birds:

Tekakwitha Woods: Excellent for songbirds and waterfowl due to its location along the Fox River. This preserve tends to be busiest bird-wise during spring and fall migration.

Jon Duerr Forest Preserve: Also a great location to view songbirds, and is located on the Fox River. The river acts as “bird highway” during migration, and this preserve has quite the record for sightings. Reported sightings include Prothonotary Warblers, Blackburnian Warblers, and Summer Tanagers. 211 species have been spotted here, making this a highly recommended spot!

Dick Young Forest Preserve: Due to the many different habitats at the preserve (prairie, woodland, and wetlands) there are a variety of birds that can be spotted here such as grassland and wetland birds. The woodlands are filled with warblers in the springtime, and the marsh hosts all manners of waterfowl during migration season such as egrets, mergansers, teals, and even white pelicans are known to stop here! Overall, 249 species have been reported at this site.

Bliss Woods Forest Preserve: There are certain species of birds that have very specific habitat requirements which means that they can’t be found just anywhere. Bliss Woods provides an essential interior woodland habitat that many birds, such as the Pileated Woodpecker, can be found in. Another bird known to inhabit these woods is the Red Headed Woodpecker, just one of the 150 species that have been reported at the preserve.


While there are many spots around the county that are excellent for birding, these are just a few that come highly recommended from our Naturalist staff. If you have a favorite birding spot, comment below, we’d love to know!

A Match Made in Heaven: Creek Bend Wedding Shoot

Love is in the air at Creek Bend Nature Center! This venue sits on LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve and is just steps away from Ferson Creek. It’s the perfect natural setting for any wedding or special event! In early May, we were lucky to host various vendors and photographers as they collaborated on a wedding shoot. The photos are stunning, and we are so proud to have served as the backdrop for these pictures! Scroll down to experience the beauty of Creek Bend:

styled shoot 1.jpgSSMay19-1569 - CopySSMay19-1577 - CopySSMay19-1651 - CopySSMay19-1810 (1) - CopySSMay19-1824 - CopySSMay19-1892 - CopySSMay19-1929SSMay19-2061SSMay19-2072SSMay19-2292SSMay19-2341SSMay19-2433styled shoot 1.jpgstyled shoot 3.jpg - Copystyled shoot 8.jpg - Copystyled shoot 12.jpg - Copystyled shoot 14.jpg - Copystyled shoot 15.jpgstyled shoot 21.jpg - Copystyled shoot 37.jpgstyled shoot 41.jpgstyled shoot 42.jpgstyled shoot 44.jpgstyled shoot 46.jpgstyled shoot 61.jpgstyled shoot 67.jpgstyled shoot 68.jpgstyled shoot 69.jpgstyled shoot 70.jpgstyled shoot 72.jpgstyled shoot 73.jpgstyled shoot 74.jpgstyled shoot 75.jpg

Interested and want to know more about Creek Bend?

Open tours are every Wednesday, 3 p.m.-7 p.m.


Call 630-444-3064 or email


Venue: Creek Bend Nature Center in St. Charles, IL


Expedition Joy Photography @expeditionjoy

Polished Arrow Photography @polishedarrowphotography

Vintage Rentals: Forget Me Knot Vintage Rentals

Signage: Illumination Custom Designs @illuminationcustomdesigns

Florals: Florals by Debi Barone, Dundee, IL

Make-Up: @laurenn_nelsonn

Dress: @missstellayork from @crystalbrideofficial

Coffee Cart: @barista_of_chicagoland

Cakes: @ericakorencakery

Invitations and Paper Goods: @heritagecreativeco


How to Prevent Invasive Species

Glenwood Park Invasive Brush November 2009 008

Invasive brush at Glenwood Park. 

Spring is in the air, and summer is on its way! This means that plants are growing and flowers are blooming once again. However, the change of seasons also suggests the return of some rather not-so-welcome plant species; the invasive kind. Invasive plants are not native to the area in which they grow, spread quickly, and can cause damage to the environment around it. So, what are some ways that you can prevent invasive species from inhabiting our local environment?


If it looks suspicious, leave it there.

There are a few invasive species that can appear to be beautiful or interesting. A good guideline to follow is if you don’t know what it is, leave it there. This prevents the spreading of their seeds to other areas through transport. There are plenty of native species that would make a much better (and safer) bouquet.


Proceed with caution.

If you’ve spent an afternoon out in nature, be sure to clean off any clothing items before moving to another environment. Seeds can often cling to shoes, pants, etc. and make a new home anywhere they may fall. Washing them is often the most effective way of getting rid unwanted hitchhikers. Pets can also carry seeds that may cling to their fur, so be sure to give them a good cleaning as well.


Keep it native.

Spring and summer is prime time to do gardening to keep your yard looking lush. When selecting plants, try to choose only native plants that will create a better environment for their neighboring greenery. Native plants also help to prevent the spread of invasive species to create a natural defense system right in your backyard!


Educate others and yourself.

Think you may have spotted an invasive species? The best step you can take is to remove it. Illinois houses many invasive species; from grasses to vines, these unwanted guests take many forms. A few common examples are garlic mustard and Japanese stillgrass. If you are unsure, research if the plant is invasive or not, and exercise caution when transporting them to the trash.



Invasive species can be found all over Kane County. The good news is, the Kane County Forest Preserve hosts many removal programs for invasive species, and we can always use your help! For more information about these removals, visit our website at