Hawthorne Hill Programs

DSC_0152Facing West


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.

Hawthorne Hill Nature Center Logo.jpg

Nature Center Open Hours Saturdays; 10am-3pm

The Nature Center is open for all ages. To insure proper capacity limits and social distancing, we require you reserve your visit online in advance. Open Hours the Nature Center is for visitors to enjoy the hands-on learning centers, displays and meeting room.

Volunteer Opportunities 

Volunteers are needed to help with bird walks, events, outdoor restoration, office hours, and trail monitoring. We welcome both individuals and groups. Outdoor work days are the second Saturday of the month. Please contact Jan Monell, Facility Supervisor at Monell_j@cityofelgin.org or Morgan Lantz, Nature Program Coordinator at Lantz_m@cityofelgin.org or visit www.cityofelgin.org/hawthorne.

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 contact Morgan Lantz, Nature Program Coordinator at Lantz_m@cityofelgin.org  or visit www.cityofelgin.org/hawthorne.

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/recreation 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.

Scavenger Hunt

Twice a month we will post a unique and fun scavenger hunt you can do at Hawthorne Hill Nature Center. Go on a family hike using our QR code that will provide you a fun fact hike clue sheet. Hunt themes will change and hard copies will be available at Hawthorne Hill on the dates listed. 

HibernationAdaptation Scavenger HuntTrees in Winter Scavenger Hunt QR codeScavenger Hike

Nature Craft Kits

Register to order your child a nature craft kit online for $5.00 and pick-up the kit on Saturday pick-up day at Hawthorne Hill Nature Center. Available twice a monthly, these kits contain supplies and instructions for at least 2 crafts. Examples of kits will be posted on HHNC Facebook page. Register online at www.cityofelgin.org/recreation go to the nature program section. 

  • Code: 112004-08-March 27th, 10am-Noon Pick-up at Hawthorne Hill
  • Code: 112004-09-April 10th, 10am-Noon- Pick-up at Hawthorne Hill
  • Code: 112004-10- April 24th, 10am-Noon- Pick-up at Hawthorne Hill


Storytime Trail Hikescavenger Hunt webpage Facebook

Bring your family to a new and unique outdoor activity at Hawthorne Hill Nature Center. Stop by the nature center on the day the Saturday Storytime Hike to pick-up instructions. The story will come alive while walking along our nature paths. Each month will feature a different story book for children ages 3-10 yr. olds. This is a adult led family activity outdoors. Bring a mask and keep a safe distance from other groups. Register a spot for your child. 

Code: 112012-01-03 Date: Saturday, March 27, 2021  Book: We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen