There are definitely less options for snowshoe and ski rentals than I’d like around me. So, today, I woke up and drove about an hour to get to the only forest preserve in Will County that rents snowshoes– (very) mildly annoying because I live in Will County and have to drive an hour to get there, but…..
The fog had settled in last night, on Valentine’s Day, and I knew the weather was destined to be mild….but I was afraid of rain. I figured if I left by 11, I’d be able to beat it. I left at about 1130–good thing, too–and driving to Goodenow Grove, was thinking to myself about how much random chance is involved in deciding whether or not to call an outdoor excursion due to weather. I hoped to miss any huge rain. On my way to the site, I heard on the radio that the fog advisory had been extended ’til 4 pm–yes! I would at least not miss out on the chance to get pictures of this place in the fog.
I got there around 1245, and got onto the trail by about 1. They require a driver’s license or ID, a ten dollar cash deposit, and a ten dollar payment to rent a pair of snowshoes. They take payment with cards, but for the deposit you need cash–I did not think about this before, and ended up putting up about five dollars worth of dimes and nickels–they were pretty gracious about it though, thankfully!
So once on the trail, I planned, on recommendation, to walk out to a huge bridge I’d seen photos of–it is not the bridge over Plum Creek that’s right next to the campground and nature center and parking lot, but the next bridge, about 1.5 miles away from the nature center.
Alas, for someone who loves to go exploring outside, I have a pretty horrific sense of direction. So I naturally, coming upon the Snapper Pond Trail (brown), felt that I had started the wrong way and turned around…I realized about ten minutes later I’d been going the right way before I had turned around, but felt that I had enough time to do the entire Scout Trail and get tot the bridge and back before my rental snowshoes were due at four.
The Scout Trail itself is nice, but mainly unremarkable, winding through wood of various densities–but it also takes you to the short balloon trail, the quarter mile Oak Ridge, which I thought was really gorgeous, particularly in the deep fog enveloping the preserve–I got some good elevation change, too, for the area, as it dipped down to the creek and then (fittingly) to an oak-filled ridge overlooking the creek.
In the on-the-fly mental math, I felt that if I finished both the Oak Ridge and the Scout Trail by 2, I could make it to the bridge and back by four. So, on I went. I dropped my awkward-to-carry water bottle, too, to pick up on the way back!
I also think snowshoeing this past week has helped me realize that my right foot doesn’t quite walk straight, but that’s another topic for another time…
The Plum Creek Regional Trail starts out nicely and only gets better, as it winds, again, through a mostly flat section of the preserve, and again through woods of varying density and some sections of prairie. The map indicates that there’s a pond somewhere fairly close to this trail, but this fog was dense enough to keep most of the preserve under wraps.
Eventually, you come to a section that borders some private property, with a very handsome oak grove–pasture, maybe? Tough to tell in this weather, but it does look beautiful.
After passing this really beautiful section, you wind through about another half mile of turns before you hit this beauty:
Once I finished taking pictures it was 3 oclock, so I hurried back! I wish I had enough time to take on the High Point trail today; it looked nice ‘nd spoooooky. But, then again, for a vantage point hike, a super foggy day may not be the best…I will definitely be back to Goodenow Grove in the future.