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Thorn Creek Nature Center

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  1. Trails

THORN CREEK NATURE CENTER                       
247 Monee Road, Park Forest, IL 60466
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Open Friday and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Call before you plan to visit the nature center. Trails open daily year-round, dawn to dusk. Trails are natural surface across uneven terrain.

Registration is required for programs.  Call or email the nature center two days before the program. Nature Center building can be rented for gatherings. Programs for schools, youth groups, scouts, seniors, homeschoolers, and other groups are offered both at the preserve and off-site.  Call for information.

Forty years ago, June 1978, Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve was dedicated as an Illinois Nature Preserve. It is one of the largest forested areas in northeastern Illinois...the fifth largest in the Illinois Nature Preserves system. This large dry mesic oak hickory forest is dominated by 150-year old white and red oak trees with a rich understory of native shrubs, rare plants and spring wildflowers. A walk through the Woods is a 3.5-mile nature adventure. The preserve also features Thorn Creek Nature Center in an 1861 white steepled building, and the historic Hornicek Farm.

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;;; P.O. Box 32, Richton Park, IL 60471.  

Wednesdays, 9-10:30 a.m. Free! Ages 13-adult. Registration required two days before your first walk.

Follow the forest’s seasonal changes, enjoy light exercise and experience nature first-hand on 2 miles of Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve’s winding trails.     

Sunday, June 3, 1-3 p.m. Free!
All ages.

Enjoy a summer day on the historic Hornicek Farm nestled in Thorn Creek Woods.  Tour the farm buildings, organic gardens, the old-fashioned flower beds and meet brown-egg laying hens.  Sip lemonade and listen to music. Meet at the Nature Center, and carpool to the farm.

Saturday, June 16, 1-4 p.m. Free! Ages 10 years or older.

Join us for a guided tour of the wet areas of Thorn Creek Woods.  Discover vernal ponds, listen for the return of amphibian choruses and explore the marshes of Owl Lake and beyond.

Thursday, June 21, 6-8 p.m. Free.
All ages.

Celebrate the beauty of the summer woods with a woodland hike on the longest day of the year. Discover the naturalist in you as you explore the woods, observing birds and insects, identifying trees and flowers, following tracks and much more.

Sunday, June 24, 3-5 p.m. Ages 12 or older; $10 per person. Purchase tickets by Friday, June 22.

Cellist Ingrid Krizan and the Thorn Creek Chamber Players present a concert celebrating the advent of summer. Join us for an evening of music echoing through the woods.  

Saturday, June 30, 1-3 p.m.
Free.  Ages 6-10.
Registration by Thursday, June 28: 708-747-6320.

Join us to observe the wide variety of these fascinating creatures. Discover what makes an insect unique. Explore the differences between insects, spiders, and other kinds of arthropods.  On a hike we’ll search for insect habitats and gently capture a few arthropods to study and then release. Program is sponsored by Thorn Creek Audubon Society. Participants should be prepared to walk a 1 mile outdoors on natural surface trails across uneven terrain. 
Sunday, July 15, 7:30-9:30 p.m. Free!  All ages.
Fireflies or lightning bugs, no matter what you call them, their flashing light seen throughout the night heralds the official arrival of summer. Let the magic of “lightning bugs” entrance you on this summer night adventure.
Saturday, July 28, 7:30-9:30 p.m.
All ages.  Free!

Join us as we venture out on the trail at dusk listening for musical and mechanical insect sounds. Many insects become more active as the sun goes down.

NATURE CAMP FOR SENIORS: TREES OF THORN CREEK WOODS                                     Monday, August 6, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Ages 50 or older; $5 per person.
What kinds of trees make up Thorn Creek Woods?  Where do different types grow in the woods? How do our trees grow? Calling all kids ages 50 years and older to explore trees with activities, crafts and more. Lunch will be provided.

Sunday, August 12, 1-3 p.m. Free!  Ages 6-12. Children younger than 6 years must be accompanied by an adult.

Explore Thorn Creek by taking measurements and doing experiments to learn some of the properties of water. Then we'll walk the waters of the creek and observe what lives there.  Wear old clothes and boots. This program for children is sponsored by Thorn Creek Audubon Society.