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