Hidden Oaks Nature Center and preserve offers year-round fun

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Hidden Oaks Nature Center in Bolingbrook, Illinois, offers year-round fun for visitors. Part of the Forest Preserve District of Will County, the nature habitat site has a number of both indoor and outdoor activities to enjoy.

Hidden Oaks Nature Center and programs

Outside area at Hidden Oaks Nature Center with signs and people looking around open spaceInside the center guests can visit with seven live animals, including tortoises, a snake and a salamander. There are also hands-on exhibits both inside and outside the center to explore.

“We have a ton of different stuff that we always have going on each month. We have a passive program that will get switched out. This month is celebrating those hummingbirds. Our hummingbird hangout. So come by, see them before they leave for migration,” said Hidden Oaks Naturalist Alyssa.

Hummingbird activities include a scavenger hunt, feeders on their green roof in the upstairs of the center, and chances to check your hummingbird knowledge.

The center is planning a water passive program in September to support World Rivers Day, which is September 24, focusing on preserving water resources. Programs to go along with that include a hidden water hunt that will last all month long, and a “paint and take” rain barrel program on Sept. 30.

Hidden Oaks Preserve

The nature center itself is surrounded by 33 acres of preserves, acquired by the Forest Preserve District of Will County in 2022. “Being at Hidden Oaks Preserve, we are in the middle of a fantastic habitat. There are forests; there are prairies. There are savannahs; we have ponds; we have lakes. So we are the kind of middlemen in between nature, our natural environment, and the people where they live,” said Hidden Oaks Facility Supervisor Angie Trobaugh.

The preserves include a .39 paved trail, which is part of the larger DuPage River Trail, and offers connectivity to Whalon Lake. There are also natural surface trails for hiking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing. And there’s plenty of wildlife to view along the way. The preserve includes a multitude of songbirds, from wrens, blue jays, and robins to chickadees and brown creepers. Guests may also spy fox squirrels, gray squirrels, raccoons, and opossums.

Nature play area and fishing also on site

kids in wooden playhouse at Hidden OaksBehind the nature center guests will find an outdoor nature play area, where kids can explore, climb, and play on wooden equipment.

And further down the trails, visitors will find Hidden Lakes Trout Farm. Next to the lakes, there is the newly constructed Tackle Box bait shop, where guests can borrow fishing poles free of charge to use for the day. The shop also sells bait, tackle, and concessions.

“You can come; you can fish. And then, even if you’re not a fisherman, we also have trails, and some of the trails are nice and easy to access. So if you’re bringing wee ones out, you know you can stick right around the places, or if you want to get your steps in or you want to get some calories burned, we have miles and miles of trails as well,” said Trobaugh.

The bait shop is open in August from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. But come September, those hours will change to Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Hidden Oaks Nature Center itself is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. and Sunday from noon – 4 p.m.

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