Just under an hour’s drive from Champaign-Urbana, the Forest Glen Preserve in Vermilion County is a hidden gem for explorers of all ages
Champaign-Urbana is nestled in the midst of all kinds of awesome day trip locations and escapes to the great outdoors. And our nearby Champaign County Forest Preserve District sites make visiting nature super easy. When you’re looking to switch it up a bit — and challenge yourself or your children — drive over to the Vermilion County Forest Glen Preserve. Whether you plan to go creek stomping, hiking or just want to enjoy the woods, Forest Glen has it all!
On our hiking trails scale of difficulty, we rate Forest Glen as one of the more challenging places to hike nearby. You can certainly stick to the handicap accessible Beech Grove trail (pictured below) on your visit if you have a stroller or someone with a mobility aid in your family. Beech Grove seemed to be very popular with the “grandparent generation” on our visit. It’s beautiful (and flat to walk around, too).
After a short walk on the Beech Grove trail, we veered off the paved path for more adventure. We found ourselves on the Big Woods Trail, which is a cleared dirt path with steep drop-offs on either side of the trail. Definitely not recommended for toddlers, but a huge recommendation for bigger kids and teens.
The Big Woods trail was what we found ourselves on (not knowing where exactly we would end up). The Big Woods trail took us right by some prime creek stomping. We did have to hike down a pretty steep path to get to the creeks and there was a HUGE log quite a ways above the ground some kids were climbing. It was a nature adventurer’s paradise and the kids were over the moon.
Salamanders, crayfish, frogs, fish and more were all live creatures spotted on our adventures near the creek. The water was shallow and safe to navigate with bigger kids. Avoiding trees and rocky paths were our biggest challenge, though the kids that just stomped right in the water didn’t seem to have a problem getting around.
Below, a glimpse of the “treasures” our youngest gathered on this adventure. She left them all displayed quite artfully for future visitors to enjoy.
The Nature Center was closed on our visit, as well as the campground, so there were areas of the park we definitely didn’t get a chance to see. We are looking forward to going back and exploring the trails once again, as we barely scratched the surface on our first trip. Visit the website for Forest Glen to see even more info, or follow the Vermilion County Conservation District on Facebook.
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