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Chicago, IL: Pilcher Park

Look for the hidden surprises–wildflowers, turtles, a mineral-rich well, and even a historic greenhouse–on this family-friendly, 3.3-mile loop around Pilcher Park.

Rating

Pilcher Park packs a lot into just 640 acres on Joliet’s eastern outskirts: upland forest, bottomland woods, wetlands, streams, and some interesting history. This hike begins on the park’s west side and climbs 80 feet to a wooded bluff for a half-mile ramble through dense woods. Near mile 1.4, you’ll skirt the park road and turn east toward the first of two historic landmarks: a still-used 200-foot well with a mystical mineral legend. Follow the Red Trail 0.4 mile to the second landmark: an impressive Renaissance-style greenhouse. The last mile of trail heads west across bottomland forest and several intermittent streams before reaching the creek just a few hundred yards south of the nature center.
Note: This relatively easy hike has plenty of bail-out options and is a good choice for families, but allow extra time if you’re hiking with kids: they’ll want to check out the turtle pond inside the nature center, as well as several fish-filled aquariums, live snakes, and birds of prey.
-Mapped by Ted Villaire

To Trailhead

Take I-94 to I-57 and continue south to I-80 W. In 14 miles, take exit 137 and turn left (west) onto US 30. In 0.6 mile, turn right on Gouger Rd. Turn left in 0.6 mile into Pilcher Park and follow the signs to the nature center.

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