The fall season is officially here, and now that we’re well into October, trees are beginning to show their autumn display of yellow, orange, red and brown leaves. We’ve already discussed why trees turn the colors that they do in fall time, and now that you know which trees turn your favorite colors, you may need a place, prolific with plants and trees, where you can go find the arbors needed to practice your new skill. Take a pleasant fall day to hike through one of McHenry County’s many conservation areas, and you won’t be disappointed with the trees that you find.
In 1976, the McHenry County Conservation District began acquiring and maintaining the land that would eventually become Coral Woods Conservation Area. The conservation area opened to the public in 1988. As explained by the MCCD, “the environmental significance of Coral Woods is the protection of these diminishing oak woodlands. Coral Woods represents one of only eight oak groves which remain in McHenry County that contains 100 acres or more of continuous oak woodland. This conservation area also boasts the county’s largest sugar maple grove where trees have stood for 80-100 years.”
The conservation area boasts a diverse array of oaks, sugar maples and hickory trees that blush a technicolor assemblage of warm tones year after year, every fall. These are well established, old growth trees that have been growing for longer than most people living in McHenry County. Oak trees can live anywhere from 100-300 years, with some even reaching 400 years old. We are lucky to have an oak grove of such rare size and commonality in our area, and the fall is a great time to enjoy its beauty.
As for wildlife, the McHenry County Conservation District boasts that, “throughout the year, the trees at Coral Woods are an attractive respite for numerous songbirds, owls and woodpeckers. Scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings, numerous warblers, flickers, bluebirds, meadowlarks, great horned owls and screech owls, as well as downy and hairy woodpeckers claim these woods as their home. Nesting boxes are also strategically placed along the edge where prairie and woodland meet to encourage the re-population of bluebirds. Chorus frogs, tiger salamanders, leopard frogs, and painted turtles can often be seen enjoying the springtime vernal ponds along the trail.”
“Thirty-five sites are open to the public featuring 103 miles of hiking trails, 45 miles of biking trails, 25 fishing areas, 6 campgrounds, 6 canoe launches, 45 miles of horse trails, and 18 sites with picnic areas & shelters, and a multitude of opportunities for wildlife viewing,” according to the McHenry County Conservation District.
Whispering Hills Garden and Landscape Center is a full service landscape center and nursery located in Cary, Illinois. Stop in today for our full selection of oaks and shade trees, now 50% off (Updated: 10/15/21)