Hiking: Colored Sands Forest Preserve

If you read my last post about nature feeling off balance and the need for a storm, things haven’t changed here. Since Saturday we have had the warnings of potential severe storms but they either go around us or dry up before they make it. Today’s weather was much the same as the other days this week. 82 degrees but 97 degrees with the lovely humidity. I know for some that weather is like nothing, but for here it isn’t fun.

Today is Wednesday. Wednesdays we wear pink. Just kidding. This is the day of the week that our family gets out and goes hiking, no matter what the weather is. I am currently four and a half months pregnant with our second child and I still love to get out and explore. Part of my parenting and life philosophy is to be outdoors as much as possible and to try and connect with my surroundings. It might sounds cheesy, but there have been studies that link the effectiveness of being outdoors in the fight against depression.

I’m getting away from myself here. So despite the weather, we set out to find a new park to explore. When we travel up to Madison, WI, I like to take the back ways. I90 between Rockford and Madison gets pretty crazy and people drive like they are in an installment of the Fast and Furious franchise. The backroads to me are much more relaxing and more scenic, plus if it only adds another 20 minutes onto a trip, why not?

On the way we always pass a forest preserve and I’ve always wanted to check it out. Today we decided to take our small journey to the Colored Sand Forest Preserve in Rockton, Illinois. When we pulled up, there wasn’t anyone in the parking lot. Not always a bad thing, means that you have the park and the paths to yourself! Now we didn’t know anything about this park when we arrived, just that its not too far from where we live.

Colored Sands Forest Preserve does bird banding! Which, after reading about it from the signs in the park, means that they trap the small birds that live in the area, place tracking bands on them, and track their migration patterns and learn more about native species. Sand Bluff Bird Observatory is there and open on the weekends so you can learn all about what they do in the area. On the path, there were signs warning visitors about the nets that were up and what to do when you find them (turn around because they are doing work).

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Outside the trail. Bird observatory.

The path begins as a beautiful prairie walk with beautiful tall wildflowers and prairie grasses following the trail. The trail was quiet with the exception of many different bird species inhabiting the forest around the prairie. We didn’t see the river, although there is one nearby, but the mosquitos were horrible. Normally I don’t get bothered too much by them, don’t know if it was my fancy pregnant blood or what but they were eating us alive! We continued to walk along the path, hoping to get some relief from the mosquitos and sun, but could only make it to the half mile marker and needed to turn back around. If you like an easier path, this one may be fore you, but I would suggest in the early spring or fall when the risk of mosquitos is lower. The river has a slower pulse to it and tends to pool in places, leading to a lot of little blood suckers! There is a canoe docking area, a little mucky but it’s there.

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Colored Sands Forest Preserve
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Wildflowers: Cone-flower (fore ground) and Bachelor’s Buttons.
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Wildflowers: Black-eyed Susan and Bachelor’s Buttons.

Pros:

  • Wildflowers and prairie restoration.
  • Abundance of birds, perfect for bird lovers or watchers!
  • Abundance of butterflies and interesting insects.
  • Clean bathrooms! (yes!)

Cons

  • Abundance of hungry bugs!
  • Not a lot of variety in terrain.
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Here is Reese. Posing with the lovely bathrooms.
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