By Emily Harrington
I am going to miss summer, there’s no doubt. But, instead of focusing on what will be missed, I’m concentrating on what’s to come for fall. A drop in humidity, tailgating, long pants (I’m tired of daily leg shaving) and autumn-colored leaves.
Champaign-Urbana’s mature trees give quite a show come fall. So much so there are even events that surround the spectacular site.
Check out the tree celebrations around our area:
- Century Trees: A Big Grove Tree Hike on October 13 from 1 to 3 p.m. for ages 6 and older (this is Columbus Day). According to the program guide, Century trees are those older than 100 years and Busey Woods and Crystal Lake Park are home to several of these majestic giants. Local experts will teach participants how to identify these and other trees.
- M.M. Hickman Tree Walk at the older Carle Park features many mature trees (50 different species) with plaques to identify them. The walk is designed to give you a cross-section of what the tree population looks like in central Illinois. Print the brochure and take a self-guided tour with your family. Your kids will think you are quite the expert if you use the brochure as your talking points!
- The City of Urbana established the State Street Tree Trail in honor of Urbana’s first city arborist who dedicated his time to diversifying the tree population in Urbana. Now the city boasts the first city in Illinois to receive the Tree City USA designation in 1975 with more than 12,000 street trees, 6,000 park trees and 100,000 privately owned trees. Print the intuitive brochure and tour the city of Urbana while learning about the different tree specimens in the area.
- One of our oldest parks in Champaign, Hessel Park, hosts a self-guided tree walk, too. Download and print the brochure and take you and yours on a nature tour of the 26.9-acre park. Hessel, too, boasts more than 50 species of mature trees. The great pictures in the brochure and detailed descriptions will make it easy for you and your children to identify them.
- Check out other Champaign parks for a fabulous fall display:
–West Side Park is a classic example of when it comes to trees, older is bigger and better. West Side’s trees are in their full glory in late September and early October.
–Porter Family Park shows a natural area progress through the seasons. Each week you’ll see birds migrate and plants change, too. Dedicated areas for prairie walks encourage you to slow down and notice the subtle changes.
If these celebrations of nature aren’t enough to encourage you and your family to get outside this fall, try the new C-U Outdoors Club created by the Urbana Park District.
Savannah Donovan, environmental public program coordinator for the Urbana Park District, envisions this family-nature club being for the people by the people. She sees the park district as being the gateway for families to get in touch with nature and other families through various events.
“The purpose of the club is to eliminate barriers where families don’t know what to do outside together. All club events are free and no registration is necessary,” Donovan said.
She explained the proven impact connecting with nature can have on families and the community.
“There’s a positive correlation with the outdoors and children in many ways—emotionally, physically and mentally,” Donovan said.
Emily Harrington is a Chambana townie that left her 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job to be a 24/7 mom to a dreamy son. Still interested in writing, Emily uses some of naptime to practice her passion and keep her mind right. Emily is a happy wife with a happy life because she fell for a fellow townie. Oh, and let’s not forget her other son, a degenerate canine named Heppenheimer.