With more than 1,700 acres of land to explore, the Morton Arboretum is a great place to snowshoe every winter. Trails are open from 7 a.m. to sunset daily, but must be covered with at least four inches of snow to snowshoe. Rentals are also available at the Visitor Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends starting December 5. Fees are $11 for two hours and $15 for all-day rentals for adult members, and $9 for two hours for member children and $13 for all-day rentals. Costs are an additional $2 for non-members, and the rental fees are charged on top of admission. Warming stations and restrooms are located in the Visitor Center, Thornhill Education Center and Shelter. Some family-favorite trails to enjoy while snowshoeing include the Conifer Collection, the Thornhill Education Center lawn, Main Trail Loop 4, the Spruce Plot near parking lot 12, and the Daffodil Glade at parking lot 22. For more information about snowshoeing at the Arboretum, visit mortonarb.org or call 630-968-0074.
PALOS TRAIL SYSTEM
You may need your own snowshoes to snowshoe at the Palos Trail System, but there’s plenty to explore with 38.9 miles of trails through 15,000 acres in the Palos Preserves. The trails are open from dawn to dusk, and are accessible at 104th Avenue and 107th Street in Willow Springs, but there are several other access points and parking locations available throughout the area. A full map of the area as well as more information about snowshoeing the Palos Trail System are available at fpdcc.com or by calling 800-870- 3666.
OLD PLANK ROAD TRAIL
The 135-acre land the 21-mile Old Plank Road Trail travels through is a flat, paved linear trail that runs through the prairie, which is ideal for snowshoeing during daylight hours. No rentals are available onsite, and user discretion is advised based on snow levels. The trail is accessible from Washington Street and Park Road Access in Joliet, the Hickory Creek Preserve in New Lenox, and the Hickory Creek Junction in Mokena. For further information, visit reconnectwithnature.org or call 815- 727-8700.
GLACIAL PARK LOOP TRAIL
New this year at Glacial Park, anyone interested in snowshoeing the 3,400 acres can rent snowshoes at the Lost Valley Visitor Center, located at Route 31 and Harts Road in Ringwood. Men’s, women’s and children’s sizes will be available on a first-come, first- served basis for just $10 a pair for the entire day when there is more than five inches of snow on the ground. A $20 (cash only) deposit and driver’s license is required. Rental hours are from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. For further information, visit mccdistrict. org or call 847-526-7433.
The Lincoln Marsh in Chicago offers a little more of an urban setting for those interested in snowshoeing this year. When snow is over three inches, snowshoe rentals are available for $5 an hour, and are available in both adult and children’s sizes. A waiver must be signed for those under the age of 18, and a driver’s license, credit card, or car keys will be held as a deposit. Rentals are available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays at the Lincoln Marsh Office, and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekends at the Northside Park Shelter House. More details can be found by visiting lincolnmarsh.org or by calling 630-871-2810.
INDEPENDENCE GROVE FOREST PRESERVE
More than 1,100 acres of snow- covered terrain await eager snowshoers at the Independence Grove Forest Preserve, located at 16400 W. Buckley Rd., Libertyville. The 115-acre lake provides a scenic setting for the 6.25 miles of trails available for snowshoeing daily until sunset, weather permitting. A visitor’s center provides a place to stop and warm up, although rentals are not available. Enjoying the park is free, but parking is $5 for nonresidents Monday through Thursday, and $10 Friday through Sunday. Further information is available at lcfpd.org or by calling 847-968-3499.
RED OAK NATURE CENTER
While snowshoeing is permitted in any of the District 159 parks and 44 miles of network trails, the Red Oak Nature Center, 2343 S. River St., Batavia, offers 40 acres to explore and has snowshoe rentals available onsite. For $5 (cash or check only) and a valid driver’s license, Atlas 925 snowshoes and poles will be provided to explore the area, as long as there is more than three inches of snow on the ground. To reserve a pair, call 630-897-1808, or visit foxvalleyparkdistrict.org for further information.