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A reminder of the winter fun out there

Ice fishing is offered Blackwell Forest Preserve Warrenville. | Submitted photo

Ice fishing is offered at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville. | Submitted photo

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Updated: February 28, 2013 8:07AM

We finally got some snow, so here’s what to do in this weather.

Ice fishing

Who says fish don’t bite in the winter?

Many forest preserves in the area will allow ice fishing unless otherwise posted. The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, for example, has ice fishing on Silver Lake at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville.

Anglers in Kane County should note that ice fishing is permitted at Hampshire South Forest Preserve in Hampshire, on Lake Patterson within Oakhurst Forest Preserve in Aurora, and on the two ponds within Paul Wolff Campground in Elgin.

As a guideline, a minimum of four inches of ice is recommended for fishing. Most preserves don’t have rangers monitoring ice thickness, so fish at your own risk.

Check your county forest preserve district’s web site, or call, if you want more information.


For a different take on sledding, try tubing. In Will County, inner tubes are available for rental at Plum Creek Nature Center for use on the sledding hill at Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve in Crete. Renters must be 18 years old and bring a valid driver’s license or state ID. Tube rental costs $1.


The Raging Buffalo Snowboard Ski Park is located at 19N460 Route 31 in Algonquin and is the only snowboard-exclusive park around. Check for hours and weather conditions — making snow has been hard this year — as well as special events, lessons and more.

Snow shoeing

Most all of the area forest preserves offer a chance to stomp through the snowy woods with big paddles strapped to your feet. Check your district’s web site for hours and regulations. (Some groom trails, others don’t.)

Snowshoeing is permitted in any of the Fox Valley District’s 163 parks and throughout the 43-mile network of trails. Whenever the snow cover is three inches or more, snowshoes are available for rent daily at the Red Oak Nature Center. For $5, you can rent a pair of Atlas 925 snowshoes — poles included — to navigate across the white stuff.

Ice skating

For the fourth year, The Rink at Wrigley welcomes ice skaters to Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs. A full-size skating rink is set up in the Wrigley Field parking lot at the corner of Clark and Waveland. Hours are 2 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 2 to 10 p.m. Friday; noon to 10 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Tickets cost $5 adults and $3 for children 12 and under Monday through Thursday; and $10 for adults and $6 for kids Friday through Sunday. Skate rental $10; $5 Monday through Thursday. At Addison and Clark streets, Chicago. Call (312) 617-7017 or visit

If you’re looking for something closer to home, check out Oakhurst Forest Preserve, 1680 Fifth Ave., in Aurora. Operated by the Forest Preserve District of Kane County, it’s a free, skate-at-your-own-risk pond.

Additionally, the Fox Valley Park District maintains three outdoor skating areas. Skating is only permitted when ice thickness is six inches or greater. A green flag signals safe conditions permissible for skating; a red flag indicates unsafe conditions.

The three skating areas are at New Haven Park, located on New Haven Avenue west of Highland Avenue in Aurora; Splash Country Water Park pond, 195 S. Barnes Road, Aurora; and Wheatland Park pond, Barrington and Spinnaker drives in Aurora. Call (630) 897-0516 or visit

Cross-country skiing

Cross-country skiing is permitted at most forest preserves in Kane, DuPage and Will counties. Check your district’s web site.

It’s also available at several Fox Valley Park District sites; including the Fox River Trail, the Virgil Gilman Trail, the Waubonsie Lake Trail and the Stuart Sports Complex/Jericho Lake.


What, you say? There are no mountains in Illinois? True — but we still have slopes. Four Lakes Alpine Snowsports has served DuPage County for more than 50 years. The resort has five runs, a beginner’s hill and a terrain park, along with lessons for everyone 4 and up. Slope tickets cost $25; check web site or call for rental prices. Four Lakes, 5790 Lakeside Drive, Lisle. Call (630) 964-2551 (reservations), (630) 964-2550 (snow hotline) or visit


Although the infamous Swallow Cliff toboggan run in Palos Township closed its two last remaining chutes almost nine years ago, there’s still a place to take a run down a steep hill at breathtaking speeds on a wooden sled with a curved front end.

Toboggan Run in Ottawa offers fun for the whole family. It is located on the east side of Allen Park, on Courtney Street in Ottawa.

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