Van Patten Woods, 15838 West Route 173, Wadsworth, IL 60083
It’s late summer: the chorus of crickets chirping, the distant note of a fire pit, and the mellow tones of glorious sunsets.
Pumpkins can wait. I want to hold on tight to the light. I want to embrace the warmth in a long hug.
It’s time to put on our walking shoes and spend some quality time with the seasons as we transition from late summer to deep autumn. Let’s watch the colors change and perceive the shifts in the air by smell and sound. Hike Lake County.
Scroll down to see more photos and read more about the 22nd Annual Hike Lake County Challenge.
“I really like Van Patten Woods because I get to enjoy nature during a casual walk. The trail is an easy hike. This is a peaceful place with so much to see!”
For 22 years, the Lake County Forest Preserves has been hosting the Hike Lake County Challenge. Every year, from mid-August to late November, hikers complete seven trails of their choosing from a select list that varies with every challenge. Some trails count as two if the distance or difficulty exceeds the norm, which is about a mile plus. There’s also a wild card of your choice. Generally speaking, the trails are usually casual walks that offer deep views of nature in immersive surroundings. The list of trails is always diverse for those seeking to hike woods or savannahs or other types of terrain.
Upon completion of the challenge, hikers may choose between a commemorative walking stick shield (see the photos below) or zipper pull. Every year sees a different design. Supplies are limited, so it’s best to complete the challenge sooner than later.
This is the fourth year for Lisa and me. My mom had decided to join us on our first hike. I wanted to visit a forest preserve that offered a large body of fresh water, open terrain and also some canopied trails. Van Patten Woods in Wadsworth features 86-acre Sterling Lake, expansive rolling meadows, and an oak forest sheltering the Des Plaines River.
Enjoy fall breezes and autumn colors while exploring designated Hike Lake County trails. At each preserve, look for the Hike Lake County logo at the trailhead to get you started on the right route.—Lake County Forest Preserves
My mom likes to keep active, especially outside during the more temperate months. Although she lives in another county, she wanted to experience the fun and discovery of a new forest preserve. My mom really enjoyed the environment at Van Patten Woods. My mom said, “I really like Van Patten Woods because I get to enjoy nature during a casual walk. The trail is an easy hike. This is a peaceful place with so much to see!” We might walk again at another Lake County forest preserve later during the challenge, just for fun!
Lisa was amazed by how the personality of Van Patten Woods was so different when comparing the west side with Sterling Lake to the east side with the dense forest and the Des Plaines River. We were at Van Patten Woods for the first time last November on the east side for a fun pre-Thanksgiving scavenger hunt. Lisa and I remembered Van Patten Woods as a place full of trees and the winding banks of the Des Plaines River. This time we experienced a more open rolling terrain with Sterling Lake, some canopied sections, and a curtain call by the Des Plaines River near the end of the trail. Lisa put it all together, “Hike Lake County is a fun way to get exercise, connect with nature and visit new Lake County forest preserves. I enjoy collecting the commemorative badges and adding them to my walking stick!” We have so much more of our walking sticks and ground to cover!
“Hike Lake County is a fun way to get exercise, connect with nature and visit new Lake County forest preserves. I enjoy collecting the commemorative badges and adding them to my walking stick!”
I couldn’t be more happy and satisfied with our choice of Van Patten Woods as our launching point for this year’s Hike Lake County. And the fact that we had my mom along with us, and she had so much fun made everything so much more rewarding. Although we receive badges at the end of the challenge, the greatest reward is connecting with nature, being active and having fun. Looking back at these photos makes me realize how fortunate we were to capture wonderful moments of which we were a part. Nature’s greatest gift to us is when we tread lightly and respectfully, she lets us back into her fold.
Badges, photographs and memories represent the collective experience of Hike Lake County. Without them there is emptiness and no connection to nature. They say you can never go home again; but, I say you can. You just need to find the right path to nature, tread lightly and respectfully, and just maybe she will welcome your return in a long warm embrace. Hold on tight to the light.
To experience an amazing dynamic presentation of the 22nd Annual Hike Lake County Challenge, click on the link to my Adobe Spark photoblog at Adobe Spark – 22nd Annual Hike Lake County
If you are on Facebook, follow me at Facebook – The Simple Luxuries
To see more photos of the 22nd Annual Hike Lake County Challenge, follow my Instagram page at Instagram – The Simple Luxuries
“My camera is my witness. My blog is my voice.” ©2020