Hawthorne Hill Nature Center - Elgin, Il

Despite the rain last Friday we headed out to the Hawthorne Hill Nature Center in Elgin. We've been meaning to check this place out for a while. The grounds are open daily but the indoor Nature Center part is only open on Fridays and Saturdays so it's been a little tricky to schedule. We almost didn't go because I didn't want to get caught in the rain in the middle of the woods, but I am soooo glad we did!

  

upload.jpg

Hawthorne Hill is tucked away between Route 20 and Randall Rd. Keep an eye out for the small brown directional signs pointing you to the center. 

We decided to do a little hike first. I grabbed a trail map from the office and headed out the back. The trail begins at a catch-and-release pond behind the center.

 Catch-and-release pond

Catch-and-release pond

We looped around the lake and crossed the street and continued on the trail. The trail is mostly wood chipped with many parts overgrown, but sometimes that adds to the fun! 

Hawthorne Hill Nature Center

We saw tons of toads (very difficult to capture on film!), wildflowers, wild strawberry flowers, and evidence of spittlebugs! 

 Wild strawberry vines

Wild strawberry vines

 Wildflowers. I need to get a good book on Illinois wildlife flowers. Any suggestions?

Wildflowers. I need to get a good book on Illinois wildlife flowers. Any suggestions?

 See that white frothy stuff?  It's made by spittlebugs. Baby spittlebugs suck the juice from the plant and secrete this frothy liquid that looks like spit. The bubble stuff serves as protection and hydration as it grows.  P.S. I learned this from the  Dupage County Forest Preserve  on their FB page. Make sure to follow them for fun facts and upcoming events! 

See that white frothy stuff?  It's made by spittlebugs. Baby spittlebugs suck the juice from the plant and secrete this frothy liquid that looks like spit. The bubble stuff serves as protection and hydration as it grows.

P.S. I learned this from the Dupage County Forest Preserve on their FB page. Make sure to follow them for fun facts and upcoming events! 

 I love this trail map idea! Lasts a lot longer than the outdoor kiosks we usually see.

I love this trail map idea! Lasts a lot longer than the outdoor kiosks we usually see.

 Overgrown Trail.

Overgrown Trail.

This is a good time to point out that it is tick season. Ugh, gross. I know. Check out my tips for protecting yourself, your little ones, and dogs from ticks here. We didn't get any here but we've had some encounters around town.

It started to drizzle so we headed inside. The kids activity area is located in the back of the building. When we first walked in, it seemed a little old school, but don't let that deter you. The activities here were nothing less than fantastic!

upload.jpg

We spent almost two hours inside exploring the inside or a fallen tree,

upload.jpg

Making spider webs,

Hawthorne Hill Nature Center

Learning about trees,

upload.jpg
upload.jpg

and fishing!

upload.jpg

Weston played this fishing game for so long. I have to find some time to make one for the house. It's just pictures of fish that have been laminated with a paperclip on one side. The pole is just a reed with a string attached to a magnet. 

I had a nice little chat with the Naturalist there who was as really passionate about engaging children in nature. She recommended a few books to me as well, which I immediately ordered from Amazon! Both are by Richard Louv. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder and Vitamin N: 1000 Ways to Enrich the Health and Happiness of Your Family and Community.

We had such a great trip here and I'm hoping our schedule permits us to go back soon! 

Have any of you been here? What's your favorite part?  Next time you go be sure to download a scavenger hunt to make your trip even more fun!


Hawthorne Hill Nature Center

28 Brookside Drive

Elgin, Il 60123

Phone (when building is open): 847-531-7055

Phone (other times): 847-931-6123

Friday - 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Saturday - 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

On the Web

 

Activities

HIKING     FISHING     WILDLIFE VIEWING     NATURE CENTER


OTHER

RUSTIC TRAILS- BRING CARRIER

VERY, VERY SHORT ASPHALT TRAIL (APPROX 0.10-MILE

NATURE CENTER IS ONLY OPEN FRIDAY AND SATURDAY