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Thorn Creek nature walk a sign of spring

Thorn Creek Nature Center Park Forest will host Hidden Ponds Hike Sunday.  |  File photo

Thorn Creek Nature Center in Park Forest will host a Hidden Ponds Hike on Sunday. | File photo

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Updated: May 14, 2014 6:03AM



Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve in Park Forest will celebrate spring Sunday with a Hidden Ponds Hike guided by naturalist April Richards.

Richards will lead participants on a 21/2-mile round trip to Salamander Pond and Owl Lake and back for an educational wetland experience.

Nature center volunteer and president of Friends of Thorn Creek Woods Penny Chamberlain said the winter has left “everything out of whack this year,” but participants can expect an enjoyable hike along the trail.

“It’s just good to get out,” Chamberlain said. “Once the soil warms up all the wildflowers come out, and it’s really neat to see.”

Among the wildflowers ready to make an appearance are spring beauties, trillium, jack-in-the-pulpit and green dragon — annual bloomers on the woodland floor.

When hikers reach Salamander Pond, they may see water lilies and water hyacinths if it’s warm enough, Chamberlain said. Sighting salamanders also will be on the agenda.

“One in particular we always look for is the blue-spotted salamander,” she said.

Owl Lake, a shallow body of water and the largest of the ponds in Thorn Creek Woods, is home to ducks and turtles and already has provided some “very good birding” for birdwatchers.

Judy Dolan Mendelson, secretary of the Friends of Thorn Creek Woods and caretaker of the historic Hornicek Farm, said although “one can never count on what wildlife is going to do,” there is a good chance that hikers will hear chorus frogs at Owl Lake.

“They’re singing now,” Mendelson said.

Hidden Pond hikers may be among the first to see the emergence of some plants and animals, according to Chamberlain, an appropriate reward for making it through a long, hard winter.

“Everything’s delayed this year,” Chamberlain said.

The Hidden Ponds trail walk will be from 1 to 4 p.m. It is free and open to participants age 10 and older.

Thorn Creek Nature Center, 247 Monee Road, Park Forest, offers a bird-viewing window, children’s science corner, exhibits for children and adults and the Eugene Schwartz Memorial Library of books on local history and nature.

Trails are open daily from dawn to dusk and the nature center is open from noon to 4 p.m. Fridays to Sundays.

For more information, call (708) 747-6320, email thorn_creek@att.net or visit tcwoods.org.



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