If you’re on the lookout for a fun outdoor activity the whole family can do, go hiking. The area around Romeoville offers loads of trails for all ages and fitness levels. So whether you’re looking for a paved path to stroll or a remote trail where you can glimpse native wildlife, Illinois’ outdoor areas have it all. So use our list of the best local places to hike near home and embark on an adventure today.

Red Oak Nature Center

Sign at trail at Red Oak Nature Center.
Image via Flickr by Joe K Gage Licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

The Red Oak Nature Center in Batavia sits on the Fox River’s east bank. It’s the region’s premier facility for nature education with hiking trails, loads of family-friendly events, and a nature survival club the kids can join.

Its excellent nature center is the ideal place to start. You’ll learn more about the park before you start off on one of six wood-chipped hiking trails. You can borrow Nature Exploration Bags from the staff. There’s one for birds, insects, experiencing the senses, and signs of the season. The bags are available with a parent’s supervision and a refundable deposit.

Once the kids have their bags, you can wander through roughly 40 acres of lush forest along the Crow’s Path. If you’d rather see the water, follow the nationally renowned Fox River Trail down to the river’s edge. That’s where you’ll find the area’s only known cave.

Between December and March, families with kids over 8 years old can rent snowshoes from the nature center and explore the trails. The park also offers seasonal environmental education programs for children in grades K-8, like A Squirrel’s Life and Maple Tapping, which also include guided hikes.

Admission to Red Oak Nature Center is free, and you can find the entrance off of South River Street. It’s open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on the weekends until 2 p.m. However, the trails are open every day from sunrise to an hour past sunset. The park allows dogs and bikes on paved trails only.

The Village of Romeoville

The Village of Romeoville’s Parks and Recreation Department manages many local parks that offer hiking trails. The public outdoor gathering spaces are open from dawn to dusk, and you must leash your dogs at all times. The following neighborhood parks offer nature areas with walking paths:

  • Boucher Prairie Park (1649 Richfield Trail).
  • Century Park (1475 West Taylor Road).
  • Conservation Park (524 West Belmont Drive).
  • Deer Crossing Park (1050 West Romeo Road).
  • Discovery Park (300 South High Point Drive).
  • Forestview Park (1065 West Birch Lane).
  • Independence Park (1730 West Raleigh Trail).
  • Mather Park (735 Sunrise Drive).
  • Rotary Park (2023 Whitmore Drive).
  • Sunset Park (729 Murphy Drive).
  • Village Park (900 West Romeo Road).
  • Volunteer Park (1100 Murphy Drive).
  • Weslake Park (2000 Newcastle Drive).

O’Hara Woods Preserve

O’Hara Woods is one of northeastern Illinois’ last natural maple prairie groves. This 54-acre preserve is part of the Lily Cache Creek preservation system and features a 0.67-mile trail with a mix of surfaces, including asphalt, a wooden boardwalk, and natural dirt. It’s a terrific spot for hiking, running, and snowshoeing. In addition, the path connects hikers with other routes throughout the Village of Romeoville’s parks.

Lucky hikers can catch a glimpse of Illinois’ native wildlife, like deer, raccoons, and red foxes. You may spy a great horned owl or many species of songbirds and migrant waterfowl here. Find O’Hara Woods Preserve on West 135th Street, north of Romeo Road. It’s open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset.

Centennial Trail

The 9.3-mile Centennial Trail is a flat, easy-to-traverse paved path that meanders along the Des Plaines River. You can pick up this course from Schneider’s Passage in Will Country’s Forest Preserve District by way of a short connecting path. This 3.26-mile section takes you northeast to the county line and is open year-round, from sunrise to sunset.

This hike takes you down a thin strip of land between the river and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, through woodlands, and over the water across the historic 1899 truss swing bridge near 135th street. Then, it rambles east, crossing over the Veterans Memorial Trail before splitting off at I-355 toward Cook County. This forested section of the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor is an ideal area for bird and wildlife watching.

Veterans Memorial Trail

The Forest Preserve District and the Village of Woodridge jointly own the Veterans Memorial Trail. This 4.73-mile paved path begins at 135th Street in Romeoville. It overlaps Centennial Trail near popular Schneider’s Passage, then travels north 3.26 miles to Interstate 355, where the trail continues 1.47 miles north through Lemont to Woodridge’s Internationale Parkway.

This route is hilly, making it a bit more challenging than the city’s other linear trails. You’ll pass through woodlands, which makes this path incredibly scenic for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing during the winter months.

Southern DuPage County Regional Trail

The Southern DuPage County Regional Trail is a 49-mile long path that stretches across the southern portion of DuPage County from Hinsdale to Aurora. The path’s surface varies from crushed stone to asphalt, with some parts following paved city roadways. A series of side paths connect hikers with the downtown areas of Naperville and Woodridge, plus picturesque neighborhoods and large tracts of forest within the Springbrook Prairie and Greene Valley forest preserves.

You can pick up the Southern DuPage County Regional Trail in Romeoville off the north end of the Veterans Memorial Trail mentioned above. If you decide to travel the entire course, on a family bike ride, for example, you’ll pass by several points of interest along its route, such as:

  • Amberwood Park.
  • Springbrook Golf Course.
  • Seven Bridges Golf Course.
  • Greene Valley Preserve Dog Park.
  • Cypress Cove Family Aquatic Park.
  • 83rd Street Park.
  • Argonne National Laboratory.
  • Waterfall Glen County Forest Preserve.

So there you have it. Crème de la Crème of Romeoville put together this list of the area’s best hiking spots. What do you think of our choices? Let us know if we forgot your family’s favorite place to walk outdoors. Send us a note so we can add your ideas to our next guide.