Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)—April 29, 2016. Spring beauties are poking their little white and pink heads out, the greens of the wild leeks and onions are becoming more and more visible in the floodplains and the leaf buds are looking forward to opening as warm weather becomes a reality. The woodland gets louder as the days get longer. Chorus frogs are singing their little hearts out, birds are voicing their opinions during territorial disputes and the sounds of hikers echo through the trees.
Thorn Creek’s Junior Ecologists Club offers fun-filled nature activities Saturday, May 7, noon – 3 p.m. for young people ages 9 to 12. They explore the woods, track seasonal changes and discover woodland plants and animals. Young people should be prepared to get a muddy, wear boots and long pants, and bring a water bottle and insect repellent. Junior Ecologists Club is a free program and registration is required two days before program.
Wednesday Morning Walkers enjoy an early morning walk each week. Meander through Thorn Creek Woods and watch summer arrive! Wednesday Morning Walkers meet every Wednesday at 9 a.m. and is for those 13 years old through adult. Registration is required two days before your first walk.
Join us for a guided tour of the wet areas of Thorn Creek Woods on our Hidden Ponds Hike, Sunday, May 1 from 1 to 4 p.m. Discover vernal ponds, listen for the return of amphibian choruses and explore the marshes of Owl Lake and beyond. These low lying areas provide vital habitat for woodland creatures and are an integral part of the Thorn Creek ecosystem. Participants will enjoy a 3 mile hike on natural surface trails across uneven terrain. The hike is free and for those aged 10 years and up. Registration is required.
Discover the wonders of spring on the Spring Wildflowers Hike, Saturday, May 14 from 1-4 p.m. Hike our woodland trails looking for wildflowers called spring ephemerals that bloom before the trees leaf out. You’ll learn the names and physical appearance of 10 common woodland flowers. The hike is free for all ages and registration is required.
Workdays are a fun way to give back to Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve! Join the Thorn Creek Trail Work crew in building and repairing boardwalks and maintaining the 3.5 miles of trails through the preserve. Trail Workday is Sunday, May 15, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and is for ages 15-adult. Other monthly workdays are planned for Saturday, June 25; Sunday, July 24; Sunday, August 14; Sunday, July 24; Sunday, August 14.
Bring a lunch and gloves and dress for the weather. Wear sturdy shoes or boots. Refreshments will be provided. Outdoor work is on natural surface trails across uneven terrain. Registration for the May Workday is required and make sure to let us know of a group of 4 people or more. Community groups are welcome.
Get down and dirty and help volunteers and Master Gardeners from the University of Illinois Extension Service care for our Prairie Sampler every third Monday through September. The first Prairie Sampler Workday of the season will be Monday May 16 from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Registration is required two days before each program day and the workday is for those ages 18 and older. Bring your own gloves, hand clippers, kneelers if you like. Dress for the weather and wear sturdy shoes or boots. Refreshments will be provided.
Join us on the night of the Flower moon, Friday, May 20 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The abundant blooms of spring flowers and trees in May helped the Potawatomi keep track of the seasons. On our hike we’ll listen for nocturnal animals and explore the idea that darkness helps predators.
Come experience Thorn Creek Woods after dark. Smell the pines, see moonlight through the trees and maybe even hear owls or frogs calling. There are lots of interesting things going on at night that you can’t experience in the daytime. This hike is free and for ages 10 and older. Registration is required by Wednesday, May 18.
Discover the naturalist in you at “Women of the Woods: A Nature Retreat” a program designed for women only and offered 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 22 at Thorn Creek Nature Center. This program will celebrate summer with hikes and nature exploration. Observe birds, identify trees, flowers, tracks and much more. Join retreat facilitator Lynda Randa, biologist, educator and nature enthusiast. Space is limited, so be sure to sign up early! This program is held rain or shine, indoors and outdoors on natural surface trails over uneven terrain. Fee is $5 per person. Registration is required by Friday, May 20.
For more information or to register for programs, contact Thorn Creek Nature Center, 247 Monee Rd, Park Forest, 708-747-6320, email [email protected], tcwoods.org or stop in the nature center between noon and 4 p.m. on Friday through Sunday. Three and a half miles of Thorn Creek trails are open daily from dawn to dusk. Trail walkers should be aware that our south bridge across Thorn Creek was badly damaged by floods and was removed. The new north bridge across Thorn Creek is open and all the trails are open. Walkers should plan their hikes to allow for coming back around the trails to cross at the north bridge only. There are signs and maps at the trail head and in the nature center.