Keep the family healthy this holiday season with a nature walk or hike! Spending time together outside is a great alternative to indoor gatherings. Learn about child and parent approved trails from these local families! 

Family last name: Mayfield
Favorite outdoor place to visit as a family: White Pines State Park – they have a nice mile trail with natural stairs, fun water crossings and little islands in the creek you can play on. Hononegah Forest Preserve has nice kid friendly loops– we like to hike here in the winter. Severson Dells has some beautiful scenery, pond, creeks, bluffs, bridges (even a troll bridge ;)), and nature playscape. These are just some of our favorites. The 815 is full of beautiful hiking trails, you just gotta look for them.
Family last name: Galarza
Favorite outdoor place to visit as a family: We made a goal to visit as many Winnebago County Forest Preserves as possible this year. It’s so hard to pick! There are special things about each one, but we really enjoyed going to Sugar River Alder.
Reason why: It’s a large park (if you have a little one, bring lots of snacks and water), and you can see all different kinds of terrain there which is why we really enjoyed it. Our daughter especially liked to look at all the pretty purple lupine in the late spring.
Family last name: Schwitters

Favorite outdoor place to visit as a family: Picking a favorite park was a hard choice. In the summer, we love to hike at Seward Bluffs, because the kids love to explore the creeks and climb the big hills. We also really love Blackhawk Springs. In the fall, we love Oak Ridge and Rock Cut for the prairies and diverse forests.

Being outside has provided a welcome relief from the cabin fever we’ve experienced during covid. It reminds us of our connection to all things and the kids love to learn about different plants and animals.
Family last name: Buell and Grisales-Buell
Favorite outdoor place to visit as a family: We enjoy many of our Winnebago County forest preserves, but the one we have felt the most affinity to is Sugar River.

Reason why: For our family it’s a hike, but it’s also so much more than that. We also venture into the woods to facilitate adventure, relieve stress, seek solace, connect to ourselves, to each other, and find harmony among the elements of nature. Sugar River offers us all these coveted aspects; with the trails running along a serene river, walking paths that loop into hills, and towering trees that feel like guardians, protection. It’s the feeling of a refuge. A retreat.

Last time we were there, we paused along the river and took a moment to breathe it all in.

The presence of the forest felt so sacred. I couldn’t help but to take it to a spiritual space: I was born to the earth, I belong to the earth, and I trust that the earth will always provide for and support all of us.

Sugar River always gives us what we need!

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