Thorn Creek Nature Center
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
Nature Center Closed: 9/1, 11/29, 12/1, 12/27, 12/29.
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.
Registration is required for programs. Call or email the nature center two days before the program.
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.
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; https://tcwoods.org; P.O. Box 32, Richton Park, IL 60471.
Registration Required for All Programs. Please call Thorn Creek Nature Center at 708-747-6320 to register.
WEDNESDAY MORNING WALKERS – WEEKLY PROGRAM
Wednesdays, 9-10:30 a.m. through December 18, 2019. New session starts March 4, 2020. 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.
LEARN YOUR BIRDS BY SPRING
Sundays, January 12, 2020 through February 16, 2020 (6 classes). 1-3:30 p.m. $50 prepaid for full series. Ages 11 or older. Registration and payment by Saturday, January 4.
Six weekly lessons and short hikes given by master birder Sue Zelek on the key shapes, markings, habits and songs for our local birds will make spring bird watching a snap! Includes a Peterson’s Field Guide to Birds and birding materials. Sponsored by the Thorn Creek Audubon Society.
BIRDING BY SIGHT AND SOUND FOR KIDS
Sunday, February 23, 2020. 1-3:30 p.m. $10 fee. Ages 7-12.
Learn simple ways to identify and observe birds, using binoculars, field guides, and bird call tapes. Learn our most common birds with fun games and crafts. Includes a Beginner Bird Guide and birding materials to take home. Sponsored by the Thorn Creek Audubon Society.
MAKE A GOURD BIRDHOUSE
Sunday, March 1, 2020. 1-2 p.m. $10 per house; limit one per person. All ages; children younger than age 6 must 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. Sponsored by the Thorn Creek Audubon Society. All materials will be provided.
“CHILI” EVENING HIKE
Monday, March 9, 2020. 6-8 p.m. $5 per person fee. Ages 10 to adult.
Let’s listen, adjust our eyes, ears and even our walking styles to catch a glimpse of the active lives of the nocturnal woods! After our chilly stroll, warm up with a mug of homemade Thorn Creek chili. Come dressed for the weather.
SPRING CLEAN UP & TRAIL WORKDAY AT THORN CREEK WOODS
Sunday, March 15, 2020. Noon-4 p.m. Free! All ages; children younger than 15 must be accompanied by an adult.
Shake the winter blahs and come help in the annual spring cleaning. There will be indoor and outdoor work preparing for spring. Come help maintain the trails throughout the preserve. Or come weed and nurture our Prairie Sampler. Bring a lunch and gloves and dress for the weather.
Saturday, March 28, 2020. Rain date: Saturday, April 4. 6:45-8:00 p.m. All ages. Free!
The arrival of the Woodcock is one of spring’s most sought-after sights. 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. Sponsored by Thorn Creek Audubon Society.
MARCH INTO SPRING HIKE
Sunday, April 5, 2020. 1-3 p.m. Free! All ages.
We’ll search for signs of spring like wildflowers re-sprouting, tree buds unfurling, returning migrant birds or animals emerging from hibernation, choruses of frogs, and tender green shoots peeking through last year’s dead leaves.
EARTH DAY AT THORN CREEK: OUR LOCAL AMPHIBIANS
Saturday, April 18, 2020. 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Free. All ages.
What are amphibians? What kinds of frogs and toads and salamanders live in Thorn Creek Woods? What sounds do they make? Come find out. Lots of fun for everyone including ongoing slideshow, an Earth Day raffle, crafts, activities and exhibits for kids and adults. And join a guided hike at 2 p.m. to explore our vernal ponds and wetlands. Sponsored by the Jim Marzuki Fund for Public Programming.
PRAIRIE SAMPLER AND TRAIL WORKDAY
Sunday, April 26, 2020. Noon-3 p.m. Free! Ages 18-adult.
Get down and dirty and help care for Thorn Creek’s Prairie Sampler or help do work on our trails. Bring your own gloves, hand clippers, and kneelers if you like. Dress for the weather and wear sturdy shoes or boots.
WILDFLOWER HIKE FOR KIDS
Sunday, May 3, 2020. 1-3 p.m. Free! Children ages 8-12.
Even in shady Thorn Creek Woods there is a unique bouquet of wildflowers that thrive here. Join us on a hike to discover which species are in bloom, learn their names and examine their physical appearance.
FLOWER MOON HIKE
Saturday, May 9, 2020. 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 around the night of the Flower Full Moon. On our hike we’ll listen for nocturnal animals and explore the idea that darkness helps predators.
THORN CREEK MORNING BIRD HIKE
Sunday, May 17, 2020. 8-10 a.m. Ages 12 and up. Free!
Be an “early bird” and find the best places to bird watch in Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve. Master Birder Sue Zelek will lead a spring stroll looking and listening for birds. We’ll have some binoculars, field guides and identifiers available.