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Five great places to get outside today in McHenry County

Published on
15 April 2020

Studies keep showing the benefits of being out in nature (and some doctors are even prescribing outdoor time)!

While much of the land TLC preserves is on private property, here are five sites open to the public for your outdoor enjoyment. Whether you visit one or all five, getting outside can be just what the doctor ordered!

Cover map

1 Boloria Meadows
With its entrance tucked between two homes within a suburban subdivision, visitors are surprised and delighted by the natural beauty of Boloria Meadows. Boloria is an Illinois nature preserve, ensuring the highest level of legal protection for land in Illinois. Its 36 acres are home to fen, sedge meadow, wet prairie and oak/hickory woodlands. Plan to visit several times (and perhaps bring a camera) to see the seasonal wildflower displays. Named after the genus of silver-bordered fritillary butterfly, Boloria Meadows has a one-mile trail loop and an informational kiosk.

Bee 400 300

Boloria Meadows is located in the McAndrews Glen subdivision in McHenry. To access the preserve, park on Millburne Ct. and follow the footpath that leads to the kiosk.

2 Concannon Conservation Area
Little pockets of natural habitat nestled within our cities and towns provide great benefits to small creatures like birds, butterflies and frogs. Concannon Conservation Area is only two acres, but it is part of a ribbon of greenway that winds through Woodstock. A short, wood-chipped trail circles a vernal pool and offers a peaceful place to sit on a bench or go salamander hunting. A small sign marks the entrance to the trail.

Concannon Conservation Area is located at the intersection of Southview Drive and Edgewood Drive in Woodstock. Parking is available along the side of Edgewood Drive.

3 Gateway Park
The county’s largest white oak tree overlooks this 18-acre natural area outside of Harvard. On your visit,observe the stately oak trees, natural wetlands and observe a half-mile of Rush Creek. There is a trail for hiking, bridges and benches for just taking in the sights. Gateway’s information kiosk and interpretive signs will help guide the way for your visit.

Gateway Park is located at the intersection of Route 23 and Heritage Ln. (near the intersection of Routes 14 and 23) in Harvard, IL. Parking is available along the side of Heritage Lane.

4 Wolf Oak Woods
Wolf Oak Woods is named after the Wolf Oak – a large bur oak tree with limbs that spread out and swoop down to the ground and grow back up again. The Wolf Oak tree, clearly visible from Route 120, has become a cultural icon and ecological relic. Beyond the Wolf Oak tree, the preserve includes 30 more acres of wetland and oak woodland. Dutchman’s breeches, shooting star and a carpet of other spring ephemerals and wildflowers bloom here. A prairie was planted near the Wolf Oak to create beneficial habitat for our pollinators. Walking trails are available for you to see the beauty at Wolf Oak Woods firsthand, and a sign board with information will be installed soon.

Wolf Oak Woods is located at 9100 IL Route 120 in Woodstock.

5 Yonder Prairie
Deemed the highest quality unprotected natural area in the county, Yonder Prairie is a great place for viewing birds, mammals and pollinators. Its diversity of plant species and habitats support local populations of wildlife, including severalstate-threatened species. Yonder is a piece of a large natural wetland complex covering approximately 260 acres. Its parking lot was completed recently, giving visitors convenient access, and there is a short hiking trail, which will be expanded in the near future.

Yonder Prairie is located at 1150 S. Rosefarm Rd. in Woodstock.

Woodstock parks

Want to get the kids outside? Download this nature scavenger hunt to use in your backyard or at a TLC site! See how many items the kids can find!

Scavenger hunt graphic