Since we’re working on our #52HikeChallenge, I’m always on the lookout for fun hike events like the gnome hike at 52HikeChallenge. Well, McHenry County Conservation District again to the rescue! They were hosting a candlelight hike as well as a kids program at Marengo Ridge, and we couldn’t wait! We’ve been to Marengo Ridge a couple of times already to plant trees (so fun!) and to participate in a geology rock program, so we were familiar with the area. We just never got around to hiking the trails. What a beautiful area!
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Winter hiking at Marengo Ridge
Download the map
As always whenever we go hiking, I always download a map if my All Trails app doesn’t work. Here’s a link to the map.
Getting started at Marengo Ridge
Marengo Ridge has two parking areas. We parked at Lot #1 to access the main trail. Once you enter, it will be the lot on the left.
Tip: Park at Shelter #2 Parking Lot (the first lot on your right) for easy access to the views on the ridge.
Marengo Ridge at dark
When I saw there was a candlelight skiing/hiking event, I couldn’t wait to take the family. We experienced our first luminary hike at Veteran Acres in Crystal Lake and we loved it and we sort of knew what to expect. Once again, the McHenry County Conservation District did a fantastic job organizing the event. After we parked, we signed in with staff and they gave us really good directions. (When you come to a fork, make a left to follow the longer trail; make a right to follow the shorter trail.) Since we were hiking here the following day, we decided to take the shorter route which was less than a mile. We arrived just as the sun was setting and made for great sunset pictures. Overall, we thought the Short Hiking Loop (.6 mile) was pretty easy with just enough rolling hills to keep it interesting and the right length for a candlelight hike. Such a unique experience!
Tip: Make sure to mark your calendars for the next free candlelight hike.
A fun trivia hike
The next day we set out for Marengo Ridge again to join a program held by McHenry County Conservation Area’s FOX Club (totally free!) – a trivia hike! This was the perfect chance to explore the trails by day. Not only did the kids enjoy learning about nature, but my husband and I learned an interesting thing or two (or three!) This time around we decided to try the longer trail, the Long Hiking Loop at just 1.1 miles.
For instance, we saw these trees with thorns known as honey locust trees. And along the trail they had a few erratics, rocks carried by glaciers. So wild!
So glad we chose the longer trail and found the pretty bridge.
Climb up the moraine
A unique aspect about Marengo Ridge is the Marengo Moraine on the site. Created about 24,000 years ago by a glacier, the ridge is what formed made up of rocks, gravel and sand. And today, we are able to climb up the Moraine for amazing vantage points.
Location: 2411 N. Route 23, Marengo
Parking: Plenty of parking in the parking lot.
Crowded: We visited on a Friday evening and Saturday afternoon and it was not busy at all.