WOODSTOCK – McHenry County Conservation District areas offer families opportunities to explore the outdoors this winter.
• Cross country skiing: More than 24 miles of trails are available on district sites. Set out on your own or join the district’s staff at one of the candlelight skis in January and February. Once there is 4 inches of packed snow, some trails are groomed. For site condition updates, visit www.mccdistrict.org.
• Hike or ski: These activities can be done until 9 p.m. every day now through March 10 on the Solar Lit Trails at Pleasant Valley, Woodstock (half-mile beginner loop) or Hickory Grove Highlands, Cary (1.25-mile intermediate loop). Visitors should sign in and out at the trail head.
• Ice fishing: This is the perfect winter sport done best when ice is at least 4 inches thick. Be a part of the fun at the Frosty Fishing Fair from 11a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 5 at The Hollows in Cary, or try your luck on the ponds at Fel-Pro RRR or Lyons Prairie and Marsh in Cary, Rush Creek in Harvard and Stickney Run in McHenry. Signs are posted when ice is safe.
• Ice skating: Skating is allowed at the same locations as ice fishing, but pack a shovel. Lakes are not cleared or prepped by the district.
• Winter tent camping: Marengo Ridge offers hearty campers five miles of hiking and cross-country ski trails. Both large and small groups are welcome. To make reservations, call 815-338-6223 or reserve online after Jan. 1 at www.mccdistrict.org.
• Be an outdoor explorer: Take the children on a winter walk on one of the many district trails and search for wildlife and their tracks in the snow. Register for one of our winter programs or strike out on your own with one of the Family Exploration Packs that are free to borrow. These packs are loaded with seasonal games, field guides and storybooks to enhance the outdoor experience. Check one out today at Prairieview Education Center in Crystal Lake by calling 815-479-5779, or the Research Field Station/Glacial Park in Ringwood at 815-678-7644.