As you know, we’ve been exploring the great outdoors and have made it our goal to explore at least one new trail a week. We happened to be in the Batavia area and I couldn’t resist a visit to Red Oak Nature Center in Batavia. This is the perfect place for beginning hikers. For one, there are fun diversions for the kids like a cave and the nature-based playground Lippold Park. For parents, there are wonderful views of the Fox River and a boardwalk with plenty of picture-taking opportunities. Read on to find out more about our visit to Red Oak Nature Center.
Related: Read about more nature centers in Chicagoland.
Our experience at Red Oak Nature Center:
We arrived around 3 p.m. on a Friday and found it was basically empty. We parked at the parking lot located along Rt. 25 and crossed the tracks. I knew the Nature Center itself was closed so we didn’t even try to go there. Since we were on a mission to the find the cave, we crossed the tracks then made a left on the paved Fox River Trail.
Tip: This is also a bike path so watch out for speedy bikers!
About a quarter mile later, we saw the boardwalk on our right. (Make sure to pass the Big Turtle trailhead and the private residence) Follow the boardwalk and go down the stairs. Voila! The cave! Although it was small, it was still a neat thing to see.
Hike the easy trails
After our mini spelunking adventure, we were ready to hit up a few trails. We made a left back towards the nature center and saw the trail we passed on the way to the cave, the Big Turtle Trail. We took it to the observation deck located behind the Nature Center. If we had more time, we would have liked to try more of the trails like the Dolomite Trail (1/4 mile) or the Bubo Trail (1/3 mile). Instead, the tried the Crow’s Path on the way to Lippold Park, the nature playground, and quite honestly what the kids were looking forward to seeing the most.
Pass the nature playscape
On our way to Lippold Park, we saw a cute nature playscape area. Looked like fun!
Nature playground fun
About a half mile later (from the Nature Center), we saw Lippold Park. This park combines the natural elements in a playground setting. Here they crossed the skywalk to the “treehouse,” walked through the nets, climbed up the rock climbing wall, sat on a tree trunk throne, climbed through logs, and more. A super simple fun nature-based ground. It reminded me a little bit of Wahoo Woods in Dundee and a scaled down play area at Peck’s Farm.
I saved the best for last. My absolute favorite was going on the short boardwalk through the marsh/pond area located at Lippold Park. It looked straight up from a Thomas Kinkade painting. I’ll let the photos speak for itself.
Tips to enjoy Red Oak Nature Center
- Print this map. This was helpful when choosing which trails to pick.
- Pack food. They have a great covered Pavilion at Lippold Park with plenty of picnic tables and wonderful views. It’s also a great spot to watch the kids play around at the playground.
- Park at Lippold Park. Don’t feel like walking from the Nature Center to Lippold Park? Lippold Park has their own parking lot.
- Scope out the views for yourself. Go ahead walk on the skywalk or the Pavilion for the beautiful views!
Final thoughts about Red Oak Nature Center
Red Oaks Nature Center is such a great place to enjoy one on one time with nature! The kids had a blast exploring the small cave and playing at the nature-based playground. The views are absolutely beautiful! We hope to visit the actual Nature Center one day.
Address: 2343 S. River Street, Batavia, Illinois
Admission: Free admission
Find more unique fall experiences to add to your bucket list.