Walking the 1,700 acres of woods is a year-round pursuit at the Arb where every hiker has his favorite season. But true aficionados say winter is especially blissful.
For Mary Samerdyke, manager of interpretation at the Arboretum, winter is a great time to hike. The leaves are gone, opening up fabulous views, she says. “When you're deep in the woods, the sunlight filters through the branches and you can see the footprints where all the little critters have traveled,” she says. “You might see a deer walking in the background or catch a fabulous view from the top of a hill.”
Samerdyke’s favorite pick: The 1.49-mile East Side Loop Trail 4, located in the East Woods. Watch Mary explain her pick on YouTube.
- Looking for a View? Scramble up Joy Path, off the West Side Main Loop 2, and inhale the fresh air and wooded slopes from the patio of Thornhill Education Center.
- Ambitious? Hike the West Side Main Trail Loop 2, a 1.37-mile trail that swings around Lake Marmo before veering onto Hemlock Hill and up Spruce Hill. There, you will feel like you have entered a mystical evergreen forest.
- Step out in snow shoes. When you're deep in the woods, it's hard to believe you are only a short distance from Interstate I-88. Through March (and when there’s at least 4” of snow), you can bring your own snowshoes or cross-country skis or rent them to explore 3.5 miles of groomed trails and winter wonderland.
- A quick breath of fresh air. Take a chummy stroll with friends or family around Meadow Lake (right outside the Visitor Center). Twice around and you have gone more than a mile on this 0.6 mile loop.