Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Biking Crystal Lake's Veteran Acres and Sterne's Woods Trails

Over four miles of mountain bike trails are available in the 150 acres of Veteran Acres Park. Acquired by the Village of Crystal Lake in 1928 while a golf course, it has reverted to its original condition and now sports dense woods and open prairie on the hilly terrain. Trail sections are short and constantly intersect one another, making a plethora of routes to explore. Tread is dirt and grass, from narrow paths to six-foot wide old roadbeds.

Wingate Prairie is on the north edge and continues the hilly theme, running for a while beneath power towers. Climbs and descents of fifty feet are common, and it is said by many that this area strongly resembles Wisconsin's famous mountain bike venue, the John Muir Trail complex in its Kettle Moraine State Forest - South Unit. In fact, both places share the same moraine formation.

Just north of the prairie section and contiguous with Veteran Acres is the magnificent Sterne's Woods and its three mile mountain bike trail around the perimeter of its 120 acres. This trail is basically an old gravel roadbed. Please respect the rule that bikes are not allowed on the interior trails. (You'd probably kill yourself if you tried the interior trails on your bike, but they are marvelous to hike.) One monstrous uphill challenges all who do the loop counterclockwise. The 26 mile McHenry Prairie Trail runs along the east end.

One day while biking here with my friends, we came upon two gentlemen who were birding with binoculars and field guides in hand. I immediately stopped and my two buddies wondered why until they noticed that the birders were colleagues of ours whom we had taught with for decades! We had a nice reunion for ten minutes. Fall is an especially lovely time to bike or hike here. (We come here during the hiking season to enjoy the ups and downs of the trails in these two abutting parks.)

No comments: