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 

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 Michelle Brill 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 visit www.cityofelgin.org/hawthorne or contact Michelle Brill at brill_m@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

Reptiles Come to Visit

The Frog Lady is coming to Hawthorne Hill Nature Center for a visit! Bring your family over to see live reptiles and amphibians to learn some fun facts! 

Fee: $5 R/ $8 NR     Age: 5+     Instructor: Frog Lady

Date: Friday, June 3     Time: 1:00-2:00pm


Come learn about the history of Hawthorne Hill's land and forest ecology. Walk the same trails with a new perspective by learning about the interconnectedness of the soil geology as well as the plants and animals that are supported. 

Fee: $5 R/ $8 NR     Age: 10+     Instructor: Michelle Brill 

Date: Saturday, June 4     Time: 1:00-2:00pm

Storytime Hike-Free Drop-In

Free! Bring your family to a unique outdoor hike! Hike the trails as you read pages from nature themed book. This is a parent led activity. Dress for the weather. Hike begins behind Nature Center. 

Fee: FREE      Age3-8

Date: June 17-18 (Fri, Sat)     Time: 10:00am-2:00pm   

Date: August 19-20 (Fri, Sat)        Time: 10:00am-2:00pm 

Climate Impacts Nature

Do you notice anything different? Learn about some of the ways our changing climate has impacted plants and animals around us. Learn about strategies that are being taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Fee: $5 R/ $8 NR     Age: 10+     Instructor: Michelle Brill 

Date: Saturday, July 2     Time: 1:00-2:00pm

The Art of Nature Camp

Young artists will explore and focus on a different mediums with the inspiration of the outdoor world. Utilizing the Nature Center for inspiration will introduce young artists to a wide range of creative art. Pack a lunch. 

Fee: $225 R/ $230 NR     Age: 8-13     Instructor: Side Street Studio Arts 

Date: July 20-29 (Wed-Fri)     Time: 10:00am-2:00pm

Date: August 3-12 (Wed-Fri)    Time: 10:00am-2:00pm