Hawthorne Hill Programs

HHNC 027DSC_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 brill_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 Michelle Brill, Naturalist at brill_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/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.


Bat House Hunt Halloween Flyer (8.5 x 11 in)

Pumpkin Composting Event

Pumpkin Composting (2)Saturday, Nov. 7th (1)

Scavenger Hunts

We have unique and fun scavenger hunts you can do at Hawthorne Hill Nature Center. Go on a hike using our fun fact hike clue sheet. Scavenger Hunt themes will change. Hard copies will be available at Hawthorne Hill on Fridays and Saturdays, 10am-2pm or in our outside box by the front doors.  Scan the QR codes to go paperless, you can pull the hike clue sheet on your phone to use.

Nature Play area 2

Trail Sign and walking stick

Trees in Winter Scavenger Hunt QR codeFall Leaves Scavenger Hunt  

Storytime Hike- FREE 

Bring your family to Hawthorne Hill and take a hike along our walking trails as you read pages from a Storybook displayed along the way. This is a participant led activity. Dress for the weather. Hikes start at nature center and lead you out from there. 

Day: Friday-Saturday           Date: Oct. 22-23; Nov. 19-20        Time: 10am-3pm

October Book: "The Good, The Bad, The Spooky" by Jory John

The Good the bad the spooky image

Monthly Wild Wednesday Drop-Ins- FREE

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. JM

Wild Wed Drop-In (8.5 x 11 in)

Dates: Wednesday: 11/10, 12/8   Ages: 2-6 with adult guardian

Time: Hike- 10:00- 10:30am- Discovery Room-10:30am-Noon

Hike with a Naturalist 

Join us for a naturalist guided hike in the woods. There are night and day hikes to choose. Learn about some of the adaptations that nocturnal creatures have developed and use to survive at night when the sun goes down. Get your blood circulating with a brisk hike. This guided hike will point out the food nature provides for its inhabitants. Collect and identify the leaves that you collect. There will be crafts and snacks afterwards available in the nature center. JM 

Fee: $5 R/ $6 NR        Age: 3-10 yr. with adult         Instructor: Michelle Brill, Naturalist 

Course# 412010-02    Date: Saturday, October 23    Time: 2:00-3:30pm

Thanksgiving Craft Time 

Let’s talk turkey! Come learn about this native bird of North America, their habitat and turkey facts. We will have turkey themed craft to take home. JM 

Fee: $5 R/ $6 NR        Age: 3-9 yr. with adult         Instructor: Michelle Brill, Naturalist 

Course# 412014-01    Date: Saturday, November 20   Time: 11:00am-8:00pm 

Thanksgiving Craft