July 2011 - NATURE'S PLAYLAND
The ‘Something for Everyone’ adventure is a favorite for my family. No matter how old or young, whether male or female, adventurous or mundane, Hidden Oaks Conservation Area offers fun for the whole family, including your leashed dog Rover.
The Hidden Oaks Nature Center recently opened in June 2009 and is beautifully designed as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building. Inside the center, kids can explore the sights, sounds, and scents of nature through various hands on exhibits that offer many many buttons for busy fingers to press over and over again. You will also discover the inside of a tree and what lives underground by peering through a glass floor. The upper deck offers a great space for picnicking as it overlooks the conservation area and access to the rooftop garden. The center also has free programs throughout the year for all ages, such as sensory hikes, discovering reptiles & amphibians, insects, birds, habitats, trees, water, conservation, and more. Have a Scout? Earn some badges through their scouting programs too.
Outside the center, the world is at your feet with nature’s playground of fallen logs, climbing ropes, sensory boxes, a log cabin, and trails of woodchips for endless explorations. Scavenger Hunt bags are also available for checkout to enhance your experience. An amphitheater built of stone provides a world of imagination for the performer inside of everyone.
A short walk from the nature center is Hidden Lakes Trout Farm. Fishing here is free for kids under 16 years old. Anyone over 16 must purchase a daily or annual permit. Your permit fees go directly to stocking the pond with Trout between April and October and Catfish between May and September. You must supply your own gear but a bait shop is on premise to add the excitement of using live bait such as worms, minnows, and leeches. Food and snacks are also available for purchase if you forget your picnic basket.
Miles and miles of trails connect the nature center to the surrounding communities. The Dupage River Greenway Trail is accessible from the nature center for biking, walking, skate boarding, roller blading, and cross country skiing. Pretty much anything non-motorized!
Hidden Oaks Nature Center is located at 419 Trout Farm Road, Bolingbrook, IL 60440. Phone is 630-739-2600 and Website is www.bolingbrookparks.org. Nature Center Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Check the website for trout farm and trail hours.