July 2014 - COOK COUNTY'S ONLY CANYON
You know it’s going to be a good adventure when they tell you to be prepared to wade through streams and suggest wearing rain boots or old gym shoes; or when the tour guide brings a little white bag to collect any snakes you might find en route; or when I have packed a change of clothes, just in case one of the girls completely falls in the slippery waters during the hike. Would you guess that this adventure is just 30 minutes from Naperville in nearby Lemont? Did you know that the Sagawau Canyon Nature Preserve is Cook County’s only canyon and individual access is restricted to protect this unique and fragile site of rare plants and awesome rock formations? And how cool is it that in the wintertime, Sagawau becomes a chief Nordic ski location, with rentals, lessons, and groomed trails? But throughout the spring, summer, and fall months, you can participate in many free programs offered at the center, including the weekly canyon hikes. Although highly educational, the hike is great for any age from preschoolers on up. The kids were given enough freedom to explore the canyon walls and caves, and peak through a natural chimney; as well as investigate the waters for wildlife. They most enjoyed walking directly in the middle of the stream and tempting fate as they jumped from rock to rock and climbed a log that lay over the stream like a balance beam. We were fortunate to hike during Snake Migration season which happens each Spring. As temperatures rise, snakes leave their burrows in the canyon walls and property signs alert hikers of the anticipated snake sitings, such as the little brown snake we saw! For an afternoon adventure, just a short drive from home, checkout Cook County’s only canyon sometime this summer!
Sagawau Environmental Learning Center promotes the study of nature in a relaxed setting. A visitor center includes exhibits on geology, history, and habitat management. Featured programs also include tours of Cook County’s only canyon. Sagawau provides habitat for over 100 species of migrant and resident birds, and is home for the banding program of the Chicagoland Bird Observatory.
Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, 12545 W. 111th Street, Lemont, IL
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Daily