April showers bring May flowers, that’s how the saying goes. Well, we’ve had plenty of April (and May!) showers so now it’s time to get out and find those flowers. Short wildflower hikes are perfect for kids and new hikers alike, as it gives them something to look for and frequent stops.
One of the first flowers to come up on the forest floor are May Apples. I like to tell the kids that these are fairy houses. They look like small palm trees popping up and they have a white flower that blooms underneath.
You can find the closest park to you at Lake County Forest Preserve website. I have heard from locals that right now Wright Woods (Mettawa) is blooming with lots of wildflowers. We also found May Apples on our hike through the woodlands of the Illinois Beach State Park. Head out and see what you find!
Many of the local downtowns and park districts have wonderful areas for finding wildflowers or just spring blooms in general. Gilsen Park in Wilmette has a nice wildflower area that should be blooming nicely. The Reed Turner Woodland in Long Grove is a hidden gem that has peaceful trails and rustic nature center. The historic Long Grove downtown is not far and is also a beautiful place for a springtime walk to do some window shopping or grab coffee.
And, of course, the best place to see May flowers is Chicago Botanic Garden. You can find what’s blooming on their website or just go and explore on your own. To make it more fun for the kids, stop by the information desk and pick up a bingo card. These are free and will feature seasonal items for kids to find while they are walking through the gardens. They also offer explorer back packs (with a drivers license) that include binoculars and guide books that older kids will enjoy using to find and identify birds and plants.If you don’t have a green thumb and can’t tell the difference between a flower and a sapling (baby tree) then head out on a guided wildflower walk. Held at nature centers and forest preserves, these hikes are usually an hour or less and include a guide to identify flowers and give you more information about them. Some upcoming hikes are:
May 14, Crabtree Nature Center Barrington
May 14, River Trail Nature Center
May 27, Lyons Woods (children ages 8 and older)