Thorn Creek Nature Center
- Open Friday and Sunday, noon to 4 pm
- Trails open daily year-round, dawn to dusk
- Trails are natural surface across uneven terrain
- Registration required for programs
Nature Center Closed:
Sunday, April 1 - Easter
Friday, May 25 & Sunday, May 27 - Memorial Day
Thorn Creek Nature Preserve
Thorn Creek Nature Preserve is a 985 acre oak and hickory woodland dotted with vernal ponds and dissected by Thorn Creek and its tributary streams. Over 3.5 miles of trails meander through woodland, floodplain forest, scenic ravines, and pine plantations. The Nature Center Loop Trail travels through young developing forest and shrubby, successional old fields and is a wonderful habitat for bird watching.
THORN CREEK, WOODLAND TRAIL & THE HORNICEK FARM
Crossing Thorn Creek twice, the Woodland Trail loops through floodplain forests, mesic and dry-mesic upland forests and pine plantations. Continue through the tunnel of pines and on to Owl Lake, a marsh that developed on and around a glacial pothole. A short walk on the Wetland Trail leads to an observation platform overlooking a large wetland complex. The preserve also shelters an historic farm, the Hornicek Farm, old field habitat and restored prairie.
FRIENDS OF THORN CREEK WOODS
Join Friends of Thorn Creek Woods and support the 985 acre Thorn Creek Nature Preserve and its Nature Center. Formed in 1969, Friends efforts ensured permanent protection for this unique open space enhancing Park Forest and the region. Friends volunteers build and repair trails, create exhibits, monitor species, staff the nature center, lead programs, and raise funds for programs and improvements.
Members enjoy a quarterly newsletter and sponsor Earth Day, plus Spring and Fall meetings. Annual family membership is $20 or $50 for an organization; life membership is $200. For more information: 708-747-6320; firstname.lastname@example.org; tcwoods.org; P.O. Box 113, Richton Park, IL 60471.
WEEKLY WEDNESDAY MORNING WALKERS
Wednesdays, March 7-May 30, 9-10:30 a.m. Free! Ages 13-adults.
Follow the forest’s seasonal changes, enjoy light exercise and experience nature first-hand on 2 miles of winding trails.
LEARN YOUR BIRDS BY SPRING *
6 weekly session Sundays, January 14 through February 18, 1-3 p.m. Ages 11 or older, $50 prepaid for full series. Registration and payment by Thursday, January 4.
Bird identification can be overwhelming, but learning only a few birds each week from master birder Sue Zelek makes it fun and easy. Learning key shapes, markings, habits and songs for our most common local birds will make spring bird watching a snap.
BEGINNING BIRDING FOR KIDS *
Saturday, January 20, 1-3 p.m. Free. Ages 7-12.
Impress friends this spring with your birding smarts and binocular savvy. Learn key shapes, markings, habits and songs for our most common local birds with crafts, activities, sounds and a hike.
BEGINNING BIRDING FOR ALL *
Saturday, February 17, 9 a.m.–noon. Free! All ages.
Who is that feathered creature pecking at your feeder? Come to us. We know. Come watch and count birds, participate in “bird” activities, help with identifications, and make a simple bird feeder. Don’t miss our Beginning Bird Hike at 9 a.m.
TRACKING ANIMALS IN WINTER *
Sunday, February 25, 1-3 p.m. Free! All ages. Children younger than age 6 must be accompanied by an adult.
How do animals survive winter’s chills? We’ll put ourselves in the paws of woodland creatures and follow the trails in search of tracks and other spoor, then we’ll make plaster cast tracks to take home.
WOODCOCK WATCH *
Saturday, March 3. Rain date: Saturday, March 10, 5:15 -7:00 p.m. All ages. Free!
Join expert birder Sue Zelek for this evening program and watch the fantastic aerial courtship displays of the Woodcock. Meet at Nature Center and carpool to GSU.
MAKE A GOURD BIRDHOUSE *
Sunday, March 4. 1-2 p.m. $10 per house; limit one per person.
All ages; children younger than age 6 should be accompanied by an adult.
This is a fun family workshop to create a welcoming nesting space for birds in your own backyard. Join artist and teacher Pat Moore to make a natural style birdhouse from a gourd. All materials will be provided.
Sunday, March 18, 3-5 p.m. $10/person. Ages 12 or older. Registration and payment required by Friday, March 16.
Celebrate the advent of spring with woods music. The generous donation of the musicians’ time and expertise allows all proceeds to benefit Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve.
SPRING CLEAN-UP & TRAIL WORKDAY AT THORN CREEK WOODS
Sunday, March 25, Noon-4 p.m. Free! All ages; children younger than 15 must be accompanied by an adult.
There will be indoor and outdoor work preparing for spring - clean-up, trail maintenance, prairie weeding and more. Bring a lunch and gloves and dress for the weather.
FOLLOW THE FOX *
Sunday, April 8, 1-3 p.m. Free. Children younger than 12. Children younger than 6 years must be accompanied by an adult.
Be the fox on this fun hike, following your daily routine along Thorn Creek trails observing wild neighbors, hunting and then calling to other fox!
EARTH DAY AT THORN CREEK: WILD WATER
Saturday, April 21, 1-4 p.m. Free. All ages.
A family program to celebrate the waters of Thorn Creek Woods. Explore the creek, the marshes and even the low-lying ponds that are home to many amphibians. Enjoy a hike, activities, refreshments and our Spring Raffle. Sponsored by Friends of Thorn Creek Woods.
FULL MOON HIKE
Sunday, April 29, 7-9 p.m. All ages. Free!
Join us for a meandering night hike unraveling some woodland mysteries and listening for the first sounds of spring.
WILDFLOWER HIKE FOR KIDS
Saturday, May 12, 1-3 p.m. Free! Ages 12 and under. Children younger than 6 years must be accompanied by an adult.
Join us on a hike to discover which species are in bloom, learn their names and examine their physical appearance.
FLOWER MOON HIKE
Tuesday, May 29, 7:30-9:30 p.m. Free! Ages 10 years or older.
The abundant blooms of spring flowers and trees in May helped the Potawatomi keep track of the seasons. Join us on the night of the Flower Full Moon.