There’s really no way to describe creek stomping other than precisely those words. You pack up your kids in their sloppy clothes and grippy shoes and head to the creek near you to stomp through the water, flip over rocks and try to catch frogs. It’s a blissful activity when you want to unplug, connect with nature and just slow down for a few minutes. Plus “stomping” is great for releasing some pent up stress, if you or your kids happen to be walking around with any of that.
You can “creek stomp” nearly anywhere in nature and we couldn’t possibly make a list of every spot you could go to embark on this activity. After a good rain, you can head to any of your favorite spots and find somewhere wet to stomp around. Be warned though, creek stomping is usually “off the beaten path” so you may want to get your adventurous mind in gear and explore to find the best spots.
There’s always creatures down all of these paths, so be ready for salamanders, toads and (eek) maybe even snakes. You can do this, parents! And your kids will love it.
Find out where to take a hike around Champaign-Urbana with your family here.
Here’s a few of our go-to spots to creek stomp within a short (less than one hour) drive from Champaign-Urbana.
Lake of the Woods, Mahomet
A great spot to get started and just 15 minutes from Champaign-Urbana, Lake of the Woods is a great creek stomping spot. Some of our favorite spots to stomp are off the popular bike path and trail on the east side of the woods (between Lake of the Woods Road and the entrance to the preserve near the golf course). Near the 2.6-mile marker, you’ll see a gravel path on the north side of the trail with a utility area fenced in off in the distance. Head down the gravel path here and your kids can have easy access to a creek and explore all through there. Your kids can also explore on the south side of the trail right here for more fun.
Near the 2.3-mile marker, there’s a much more subtly-marked area to hike down and this will take you toward the Sangamon River. This is another awesome place to explore with your kids. Finally, for the most accessible area to “creek stomp,” venture down the yellow stairs near the covered bridge and while there’s not necessarily a creek by the Sangamon River there, if there’s been any rain recently, there will be water to splash around in.
Other spots to creek stomp in Mahomet:
On the west side of Lake of the Woods, Buffalo Trace Prairie connects to the bike path and winds through nature. Park in the parking lot off 47 and as you approach the trail, you’ll see the paved bike path to the right and a grassy/gravel path to the left. Take the path to the left and when you come to the first fork in the path after a minute or two, head left again. You’ll follow a grassy trail along a creek and soon come upon a bridge with easy spots to climb down and stomp. Follow signs for the “5 mile trail’ to continue exploring, hiking and stomping.
Stidham Woods connects to Lake of the Woods on the east side of Lake of the Woods Road. It also conveniently has a parking lot off Prairieview Road. As soon as you enter the woods, hang a right down the mowed grassy path and it will take you toward a creek that drains into a pond. While you may not want to stomp in this one, it’s fun to watch!
Homer Lake’s natural playscape, while manmade, gives a very realistic creek-stomping experience. Plus, it ends in Homer Lake so you’re basically connected to a natural body of water. Watch out for the rocks here, they can be slippery!
There are other places to go creek stomping at Homer away from the playscape — we know of one on the Flicker Woods Trail near the dam.
Our readers know what we’re looking for when it comes to adventures in creek stomping and told us to “be sure to check out the ‘wild side’ trails on the other side of the river.” This is where you can find the creeks. Enter at the south entrance and since the Buck Schroth trail takes you right up to the river, we think this is one of the ones they’re referring to.
Forest Glen (Vermilion County)
The farthest spot on our list, Forest Glen is worth the drive to say the least. The Big Woods trail will take you toward a picturesque creek-stomping creek but make sure you have your good hiking shoes on to tackle this one. There’s also some steep drop-offs on either side of the trail, so it may be best for older kids versus toddlers.
Imagination Grove (McLean County)
This outdoor natural playscape was built with accessibility, convenience, and hands-on considerations that encourage your kids to get dirty and have fun, while also preserving the natural area surrounding the playscape. Located just south of Bloomington-Normal, this makes a great day trip.
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