Hawthorne Hill Programs

Hawthorne Hill Nature Center Logo.jpg

Hawthorne Hill Nature Center is the perfect place to enjoy and learn about the natural landscapes that surround our region. The nature center provides year round opportunities for experiencing nature. Explore the trails to witness the rich fall colors, snow-frosted trees, spring wildflowers, summer amphibians, and an ever changing host of birds. Hawthorne Hill is an excellent place to relax, recreate and explore the natural world providing two ponds, acres of woodland, a mile of looped trails, and an interactive nature center. The 67 acre natural area that flanks both sides of Brookside Drive has a wheelchair accessible trail that leads to the pond and sedge meadow, as well as wide, 2-miles of wood-chipped trails to access other areas.

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Nature Center Open Hours Friday and Saturday; 10am-3pm

The Nature Center is open for all ages. Open Hours for the Nature Center is for visitors to enjoy the hands-on learning centers, displays and meeting room.

Volunteer Opportunities 

We welcome both individuals and groups. Come out and volunteer at Hawthorne Hill Nature Center! Tools are provided. Wear long pants and closed toe shoes.

Saturday, October 8th, 9am – noon

Saturday, November 12th, 9am - noon

All volunteers must register one week in advance.

All volunteers will be required to sign a waiver to participate.

For more information call 847-531-7055.

Outreach Resources for Teachers, Scouts, and Homeschool Groups

Teachers, Troop Leaders, and Homeschool Parents you can schedule a field trip or rent the nature center as a teaching space for your group. We have the option for group led field trips, and nature staff led field trips. We have resource materials upon request including IDNR Resource Trunks, field guides, magnifiers, a microscope, preserved specimens, posters, and books. For more information please visit www.cityofelgin.org/hawthorne or contact Corey Zak at zak_c@cityofelgin.org.

Rentals Information at Hawthorne Hill Nature Center

The Center is available for rentals for gatherings, scout meetings or birthday parties. It has a large meeting room with a kitchenette that includes tables and chairs. For more information visit online at www.cityofelgin.org/1804/Rentals or email Jan Monell at Monell_j@cityofelgin.org.                                       Rental Rates: Non-Profit: $65/hr. Res.: $70/hr. NR: $80/hr.

Please check the Elgin Parks and Recreation Brochure for current program offerings.

Nature Programs

Hike with a Naturalist

Join us for a naturalist guided hike in the woods. This guided hike will point out the habitats, wildlife and more.

Fee: $5 R/$6 NR       Age: 3-10 with adult        Instructor: Cory Zak, Naturalist 

Date: Saturday, Nov. 5     Time: 1:00pm-2:00pm

Monthly Thursday Drop-Ins

Visit us each month for a themed nature discovery day. A naturalist guided sensory walk outdoor followed by hands-on activities for children to play with in the center’s Discovery room.

A parent or guardian must accompany their child for both the walk and Discovery room. 

Fee: Free      Age: 3-8 with adult guardian        

Dates: Oct. 13, Nov. 10, Dec. 15     Time: 10:00am-1:00pm

Family Campfire Night Hike

Come join us for a naturalist guided night hike in the woods. Learn about some of the adaptations that nocturnal creatures have developed and use to survive at night when the sun goes down. After the hike, star gaze and listen to the sounds that fill the forest and pond life with a campfire and smores. Dress for outside.

Fee: $5 R/$6 NR       Age: 3yrs & up        

Date: Friday, Sept. 30     Time: 6:30pm-8:00pm

Prepare Your Garden for Winter

Learn how to get those garden and native plant beds ready for winter. Our Naturalist will provide tips on winterizing your garden beds and answer any questions you may have on what to do now for next spring.

Fee: $5     Age: 18yrs & up       Instructor: Cory Zak, Naturalist

Date: Thursday, Oct. 6     Time: 10:00am-11:30am

All About Bats

Learn about bats, come see our live bat program at the Nature Center featuring a large, straw-colored African fruit bat, an Egyptian bat, and a Jamaican leaf nosed bat. Then build a bat house for your home. 

Fee: $8 R/$10 NR   Age: 6yrs & up    Instructor: Flying Fox Conservation Fund

Date: TBA    Time: 10:00am-Noon

Owl Prowl

Come learn about Owls, these beautiful and powerful birds while seeing them up close! Each participant will have their own Owl pellet to dissect and discover what's inside. Pre-registration is required.

Fee: $8 R/$10 NR       Age: 5yrs & up       Instructor: K.A.R.E. for Wildlife

Date: Saturday, Nov. 12     Time: 10:30am-Noon

Build a Snowflake Contest

Pick-up a snowflake to decorate and enter into a contest to win four daily pool admissions.  The Snowflakes will be hung along our trails for visitors to vote on the best decorated one. The snowflake to receive the most votes receives four daily pool admissions to Adventure Island. 

Pick-up Snowflake: Nov. 28 - Dec. 2 between 10:00am-2:00pm

Return Decorated Snowflake: Dec. 12

Fee: Free