Are your winter blues so bad that they’re winter blahs? Are you missing the greens of spring, the sapphire skies of summer and the ambers of autumn?

It’s easy to only see dull, neutral tones in the winter, especially when the skies are gray and there is little to no snow, which was the case in the 815 until a couple weeks ago. But we promise –snow or no snow– there is an abundance of reds, greens, blues and silvers in the streams, rivers and landscapes of northern Illinois in the winter. Look at the photo of the beaver-gnawed tree trunk. How many colors and textures can you count?

Take a hike along the Kishwaukee River at Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve. (That’s where we found the beaver-gnawed tree trunk!) Even on a gray day, you will see brilliant berries, burnt red sumac, light blue skies and silver streams. The springs, surrounded by plush greenery, will greet you with bubbly joy as you trek along the path past dramatic views of the forest and the Kish.

There is something special about hiking in the winter. When Canada geese fly overhead, you can hear the rhythmic flapping of their wings because the bare trees don’t absorb their sound. The iced-over creeks crackle with mystery and magic. And you can hear the woodland creatures rustling through the crunchy forest bed of last fall’s leaves.

We would love to see you at one of our many free planned hikes. Check out our events page and register for one or more (or all!) of our hikes.

If you post pictures of your hikes on social media, please tag us with #815Outside. We want to see what you see!

See you on the trails! Until then, here’s a 29-second video of Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve. In case you couldn’t tell, we shot this video before the snow. We can’t wait to get back and check out the snow-covered springs. Maybe we’ll see you on the trails!


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