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Witlox Middaugh: Fall is a wonderful time to explore McHenry County

Published: Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

After the summer heat and humidity in McHenry County, the crisp cool air is a welcome change.

Fall is a wonderful time to explore recreation opportunities in McHenry County. 

Want to know how to see more in less time when exploring the county? Try bicycling.

Riding the trails by bicycle is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, experience nature up close and get some exercise. More than 30 miles of trails are offered throughout the county, that serve not only as recreational amenities, but as valuable resources that link communities, schools and neighborhoods. 

The McHenry County Prairie Trail stretches 26 miles from Algonquin to the Wisconsin state line. The Prairie Trail connects eight McHenry County communities: Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, Crystal Lake, Prairie Grove, McHenry, McCullom Lake, Ringwood and Richmond.

The Prairie Trail’s main access points are located north of Algonquin, along Main Street in Crystal Lake, at Petersen Park in McHenry, and in Glacial Park north of Ringwood.

There are several scenic and recreational points along the trail, including the Fox River and Larsen Prairie. 

Explore dozens of specialty shops within quaint downtown districts where vibrant main streets are filled with antique stores, artistic treasures, fashion boutiques and numerous dining options, all conveniently located slightly off the trail. The Prairie Trail is open daily, sunrise to sunset. 

If bicycling isn’t your thing, try hiking. Hiking is a great activity for people of any age. Hiking offers the chance to see flowers in bloom as you wander through trees and prairies or along wetlands. 

The McHenry County Conservation District has more than 115 miles of trails scattered throughout the county that are waiting to be explored. 

For longer outings, the regional bike trails can also be hiked. Challenge yourself on the 26-mile Prairie Trail, the 3.5-mile H.U.M. Trail from Marengo to Union, the 7-mile Hebron Trail from Richmond to Hebron or the 4-mile Ridgefield Trace that extends from McHenry County College to Crystal Lake.

There is no better way to relieve stress and burn calories than hiking and bicycling.

Start your outdoor recreation adventure by participating in one of the many events offered in McHenry County. Check out Lakeside Legacy Arts Park’s “Run and Roll for the Dole” on Oct. 6 in Crystal Lake, Algonquin’s 5K “Harvest Hustle and Festival” on Oct. 12, the “Care4 Breast Cancer 5K” run/walk on Oct. 20 or the 5K “Run/Walk Through a Corn Maze” at Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove. For a list of more healthy adventures, explore visitmchenrycounty.com.

• Laura Witlox Middaugh is manager of group sales at the McHenry County Convention and Visitors Bureau. She can be reached at laura@mchenrycountycvb.com or 815-893-6280. 

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