One of life’s simple pleasures that our family has rediscovered with the arrival of Baby Johnny is the timeless tradition of walking. With baby safely nestled in the “cabin” of our four-wheel drive stroller (or the “Rumbler,” as we refer to it) and all the necessities on board (coffee, cell phone, etc.) we have found that walking, either for erranding or simply for fun and exercise, is an underappreciated activity that is often forgotten in our go-go world.
Fortunately, northern Lake county offers many fantastic walking trails. The Lake County Forest Preserves scattered throughout the area are a good place to start any walking adventure. We particularly like Daniel Wright Woods on the border of Mettawa and Lincolnshire and Independence Grove in Libertyville. Both offer wooded areas full of mystery and surprise and long, sunny vistas.
On days when we want to stay close to home (and not drive just to walk!) we simply head out the front door for Century Park in Vernon Hills. This park may very well be the jewel in the crown of a park district known for its abundant, accessible and enjoyable local parks. Century Park has over 3 miles of walking trails (over 5 if one includes the northwestern section of the park which is really its own area) that wind along Big and Little Bear Lakes. With some gently rolling landscape and one large hill, a walk in Century Park can be as easy or strenuous as one wishes. For the older kids, there are playgrounds, exercise stations and even a zip line sprinkled throughout the park. Some trails even bring a walker along a jetty reaching out into Little Bear Lake.
One particularly enjoyable aspect of walking in Century Park is the local bird population. Numerous Mallards call the park home as well as egrets, at least one Great Blue Heron and, of course, the ever-present Canadian Geese. Younger children love feeding the ducks scraps of bread.
Another plus to walking in Vernon Hills is the accessibility to local stores and cultural institutions. For those living north of Route 60, grocery stores, restaurants and other retail shops are all within minutes of Century Park. And if one is brave enough to cross 60 at Aspen Drive (once you do it, it becomes easier!), the excellent new Aspen Library, Community Center and waterpark are all within minutes of one’s front door.
The real bonus to walking though is the exercise that comes with it. Let’s face it, pushing a 20 lb. baby in a heavy-duty stroller uphill is bound to burn at least a few calories. Do it for a few weeks in a row and one does notice the difference. So bundle up against October’s chill and get out there and walk!