Why McKinley Woods?
A nature preserve abutting the Des Plaines river and the Illinois & Michigan Canal (I & M). Offers an assortment of activities – hiking, fishing, camping and the like. Moderately trafficked trails with low human presence is a big bonus too – especially during these times.
How to Plan your visit?
• Hop in a car and set your GPS to the parking lot here.
• Pack the emergency hiking back-pack – I keep some water, packed food, sun-screen, bug-repellent, first-aid, analgesic, water-proof pouch for cellphone (a must have since I bricked my Pixel 2 in Everglades in this trip), sanitizer, soft tissues, towel and an extra battery juice pack.
• Check the map and plan your trip. As you can see, there are 2 facilities under McKinley Woods – the Frederick’s Grove and the Kerry Sheridan Grove. We did the former (circled in red below). Each offers similar assortment of activities and pristine views of the Des Plaines river so not much to choose here.
• For biking enthusiasts, you can access the eponymous I & M Canal State Trail too, which offers around 80 miles of biking trails alongside Des Plaines river.
We did following hikes – a small chunk of I & M Canal State Trail and full coverage of Trail of the Old Oaks and the Heritage Trail.
Illinois & Michigan Canal State Trail (~ 80 miles)
It was a short walk on a less busy road so not much to complain.
Within no time, we reached the I & M Canal State Trail, which is a perpetual gravel path and quite a busy one at that, looking at all the bikers which went passing by.
The trail offered views of both the I & M canal and the Des Plaines river. The canal, fostering stale water, was abundant of aquatic plants.
#awkward – The trail had a bunch on unmarked side trails, we did take one to try our luck and saw some dilapidated construction in the middle of woods.
Tired of frequent yelling for the kids to yield for the endless swarm of bikers passing by (some at high speed), we headed back to the McKinley preserve.
The Heritage Trail (1.3 miles)
The Heritage Trail in the McKinley was near-by so we ambled across for the mile long hike. I would strongly recommend using some trail apps like AllTrails for essentially not getting lost on the trail, thanks to many forks and unmarked side trails. You can check my recording here.
There were some bragging rights on the table on who would put their hands inside below lair but there were no takers in our pod.
The trail had many steep ups and downs so we had to tread cautiously .
Another steep stretch.
Some parts of the trail were very dense and were eerie in their own way.
The trail had abounding forks and side paths. We were mostly unaffected since we had downloaded the trail maps offline.
A fork on the trail with no markings
As usual, the vagaries of nature were on full display.
The Trail of the Old Oaks (1.4 miles)
The sun-set was drawing nigh but we still went for another shortish trail. You can check the recording here.
The trail was mostly flat and clear so we nipped swiftly.
After about half the distance, the trail curved towards the canal offering us the dusky views.
#MildlyInteresting – a well maintained bench out of nowhere.
As the trail was getting benighted, the kids made up their own spooky stories on the way to further spice it up.
A panoramic view accentuating the late evening muzzle of the trail.
Post a quick nibble, we motored to our homes and watched utterly disappointing Mulan to wind up our evening.
Interested in other Hiking options around Naperville? Please check other hiking locations here.
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