The Morton Arboretum in west suburban Lisle, Ill., is a self-described “museum of trees,” with a collection of species from around the world. The 1,700-acre preserve started in the 1920s and now features more than 4,000 different species of trees and shrubs. And, of interest to us, you’ll find 16 miles of hiking trails that are perfect for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter.
What Makes It Great
And, yes, challenging. To the uninitiated, the Morton Arboretum is downright hilly. There are very few flat sections in the preserve, so be prepared to get your heart-rate up.
Those 16 miles of off-road hiking trails offer plenty of options for snowshoers and cross-county skiers to really explore the preserve, and the Morton Arboretum has embraced the snow, offering snowshoe and ski rentals at the visitor’s center to help get more people out on the trail. Bring your own skis or snowshoes to explore from 7 a.m. to sunset whenever four inches or more of snow are on the ground.
You have literally dozens of trails to choose from. The arboretum is divided into two sections. The bigger east side features groves of magnolias, buckeyes, oaks and maples, in addition to a section of trees from China and Japan. And that’s just to name a few. On the west side of the park, you can explore the of flowering trees (well, not so much this time of year), pines, spruce, hemlocks, birch and willows, once again, we’re just touching on some of the biggies. The Thornhill Education Center is on the west side, which is used for classes as well as wedding on the weekends.
Who is Going to Love It
The trees may be gorgeous, but your legs will remember those hills. But if you’re a beginner, you can certainly find some less sever stretches of trail. If you’ve never tried snowshoeing before, this is a great place to start.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
You enter the Morton Arboretum off of Route 53, just north of I-88. The main parking lot next to the visitor’s center usually has plenty of spaces and is a good place to start any run, but you’ll find additional parking at smaller lots along each route if you so desire.
Daily admission is $12, but if you are expecting to spend much time there—and it’s also a great place to run on the paved roads in the winter—it makes sense to become a member for $60 a year and run all you want.