Written by Jeff Long
Wednesday, 01 January 2014 00:00
From Montgomery to North Aurora, snow and ice means loads of fun
For those who rank winter recreation among their favorite outdoor activities, this is a time of year to be enjoyed. Snow, ice and cold are recreational gifts to be enjoyed with skis, sleds, snowshoes and skates.
With 164 parks, 27 lakes and 45 miles of interconnected trails, the Fox Valley Park District is a 2,500-acre playground for winter activities and cold-weather fun. Here are the best places to find it:
It’s one of the joys of childhood, but please remind the young ones to sled down the middle of the hill and walk up the sides to avoid the dreaded “bowling alley” scenario and potential injury. Here are the go-to hills:
Lincoln Park – Located at Russell Avenue and Lakewood Place in Aurora, this is a gentle hill suitable for young children and beginners.
McCullough Park – Launch from the Prisco Community Center parking lot at 150 W. Illinois Avenue and enjoy Fox River views on the way down.
Waubonsie Lake Park – A bit steeper, this sled area at Montgomery and Kautz roads is rated as intermediate.
Oakhurst Forest Preserve – The big hill on Fifth Avenue, just west of Kautz Road, offers the fastest and steepest sledding in the area and is maintained by the Forest Preserve District of Kane County.
New this year, the Park District has constructed a pair of ice rinks on a portion of the parking area at Waubonsie Lake Park on Kautz Road in Aurora. Rinks are free and open to the public. One rink is utilized for hockey, the other for general skating.
Snowshoeing is permitted in any of the District’s 164 parks and throughout the 45-mile network of trails. Enjoy the peace, beauty and serenity of winter in the parks.
Whenever the snow cover is three inches or more, snowshoes are available for rent seven days a week at the Red Oak Nature Center. For $5, you can rent a pair of Atlas 925 snowshoes – poles included – to navigate across the white stuff and explore the many backwoods hiking trails around Red Oak Nature Center and along the Fox River.
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING
Where there’s snow, there’s skiing. Unlike downhill, Nordic skiing requires no expensive lift ticket. Free fun is literally right out the door. Here are some personally tested favorites with minimal road crossings:
Fox River Trail – Start in North Aurora on either side of the State Street Bridge and stride northward. Both sides are wooded, peaceful and beautiful. The more ambitious can travel a loop to Batavia, crossing the river at the Clark Island bridges.
Virgil Gilman Trail – Either trailhead at Prairie Street or Galena Boulevard is a good starting point. Heading westward, skiers will enjoy a rustic glide, all the way to Waubonsee College. Blackberry Creek parallels much of the route, further enriching the scenery.
Waubonsie Lake Trail – This popular network of trails can be accessed at Waubonsie Lake Park (off Kautz Road) and from the parking lot at the Eola Community Center. One tour around Waubonsie Lake on skis is all it takes for this destination to be added to the favorites list.
Stuart Sports Complex/Jericho Lake – A sprawling expanse of snow – 400 acres worth – provides plenty of room for skiers to roam to their heart’s content.
The above trails are not groomed, relying instead on skiers to carve tracks – so, the more skiers who use the trails, the better the tracks.
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 January 2014 10:38