Sagawau Canyon ~ Lemont, IL

This past weekend, we headed out to Sagawau Canyon, Cook County's only canyon, for a Father's Day weekend hike.  Or I thought it was supposed to a hike anyway, but it was actually more of a tour. 

I didn't realize that this was a nature preserve, so pretty much everything in the preserve is formally protected by Illinois law.  In order to protect the unique geology and ecology found in the canyon, visitors are only allowed in the canyon with a guide. The naturalists are pretty specific about where you can walk and what you can touch. Only hiking (no biking) is allowed in the preserve and you absolutely must stay on the trails.  It is illegal to pick wildflowers, trample plants, or take anything from the preserve.

Sagawau Nature Preseve

I don't know why I thought we were supposed to be hiking. The event advertisement clearly states that it is a "canyon tour" but it doesn't really say much else.  And while I was not disappointed in the beauty of the canyon, I think I was expecting it be more hand on. It was more like- walk down into the canyon. Listen to the naturalist talk. Walk a little further down.

But nonetheless it was gorgeous. 

Sagawau Canyon

I'm one of those people that learns by touching and doing and so is Weston.  Also, Weston is not one to sit still for longer than 10 minutes, so even though he was in the pack, he wanted to get out and play in the water, touch the rocks, pick the plants, etc., etc. So we spent a lot of the time trying to keep him entertained while the naturalist was trying to talk to the rest of the group.  It was a cool experience and a great place for adults and older kids to learn about the history and geology of the area but I'd recommend keeping the toddlers at home for this one.

Sagawau Canyon _ JMA
  Did you know Illinois was once completely underwater and near the equator?  I'm pretty sure I learned that at some point, but didn't think about it until the tour.  The canyon was once a coral reef in an inland sea. We were encouraged to get up close to this part of the canyon wall and see the fossilized coral.   

Did you know Illinois was once completely underwater and near the equator?  I'm pretty sure I learned that at some point, but didn't think about it until the tour.  The canyon was once a coral reef in an inland sea. We were encouraged to get up close to this part of the canyon wall and see the fossilized coral.
 

  Erosion of water in the stream gradually and slowly exposed the dolomite limestone walls, creating the canyon as we know it today.

Erosion of water in the stream gradually and slowly exposed the dolomite limestone walls, creating the canyon as we know it today.

 One of the reasons you have to watch your step in here is because there are non-vascular plants that call the canyon home.  Non-vascular plants do not have the mechanics required for transporting food and water long distances, so when they are trampled it takes a really, really, really long time for them to recover. One of these is the liverwort, shown here.

One of the reasons you have to watch your step in here is because there are non-vascular plants that call the canyon home.  Non-vascular plants do not have the mechanics required for transporting food and water long distances, so when they are trampled it takes a really, really, really long time for them to recover. One of these is the liverwort, shown here.

We headed to downtown Lemont afterwards for some lunch. We grabbed sandwiches at Sweetwater Deli (I highly recommend The Gio) and stopped for a beer at Pollyanna Brewing Co. (I recommend the Lexical Gap IPA) before heading home to enjoy the rest of our weekend!

If you decide to take the tour, be prepared to get your feet wet.  You literally walk through the stream at various points in the tour.  The tour is really awesome and like I said, great for older kids and adults.  But I really wouldn't bring your toddler unless you have one of those magical children who can sit still for an hour. 


The Sagawau Canyon Nature Preserve is open 8am-4pm daily.  You must register for a canyon tour.  They have a few more coming up this summer. Check the event listings here.

12545 West 111th Street

Lemont, Il 60139

630-257-2045

 

ACTIVITIES

HIKING     SPECIAL CLASSES     BIRD WATCHING   CANYON TOURS     NORDIC SKIING  


OTHER

STROLLER NOT RECOMMENDED- BRING CARRIER

NO PETS

NO BIKES