Special Events

Experience McHenry County Conservation District by attending one of our upcoming special events! Click the months below to reveal the events. This page is updated quarterly. 

Due to ongoing concerns with Covid-19 our larger special events may be cancelled, but we still offer plenty of special things to do. Our scheduled fall/winter events are below and will follow current social distancing guidelines.

In addition to these special events, we also offer other seasonal programs. 

Register for a Program



Special Events

Cache Your Way Across McHenry County
Geo-Series: ongoing 
This GeoSeries is specifically designed to turn your next staycation, day trip or geocaching expedition into an extraordinary adventure. Cache Your Way Across McHenry County GeoSeries highlights 15 of the best District spots where gamers will be led along unique trails, under bridges, to historic sites, or in the middle of a majestic oak woodland. At each stop, cachers will be introduced to a variety of interesting facts, fun tidbits, stories, quizzes and a question to answer in your GeoSeries Passport. Those who complete all 15 caches will earn the District’s newest geocoin. A couple of the caches have travel bugs. Please move these bugs along and do not keep them; you will get your own to keep when you successfully complete the tour! Once you complete all the caches, bring your passport to one of our visitor centers to claim a coin; or e-mail a copy to smichael@mccdistrict.org

Download passport and program information.

Challenge 2020: Aug. 2 through Nov. 30
Complete your sheet and claim your 2020 GeoCoin. This year’s theme is mammalsAll caches will be live on geocaching.com. Note: This is a separate program from the Geo-Series above. There are a limited number of coins—first-come, first-served; one coin per household.

Lost Valley Nature Detectives
Self-guided Explorations
Winter is here. But that's no excuse to stay inside! Each month we will post links to virtual Nature Detectives activities and videos filled with things you can do from home! 

Monthly Exploration Topics:

October —Fall Colors
As fall sets in, leaves are fading from green to bright beautiful colors! Do a “Tree Parts Dance” to learn the parts of a tree and make leaf paintings. Go on a fall scavenger hunt at a Conservation Site and see if you can find everything on the 

November — Winter is Coming!
As the fall season ends, we know that means winter is on its way! Learn what different animals do to prepare for colder months. Conduct experiments to see how some animals adapt to colder temperatures! Finally, bundle up and head outside to embark on a scavenger hunt in your own backyard!

December — Winter Trees
Even though in the colder months most trees lose their leaves, some trees keep their needle-like leaves all year long! Evergreens may not be native to McHenry County, but we still have them in our Conservation Sites. Check out some fun ways to identify them and make a fun craft to bring the Christmas tree spirit to your home!

January — Owls
Most species of owls don’t mind the cold weather and stick around McHenry County all year! Learn about some of the different species of owls that live here through fun activities and make an owl craft so you can have your very own owl friend at home!

February — Whose Scat is That?!
While it may seem that most animals are not around in the winter, we can still see several signs that they are in McHenry County. One main sign is their scat! Learn some fun facts about scat and how to make your own gross scat treat too!

Cross-Country Candlelight Ski/Hike
December 18 & 19
Both Friday and Saturday evenings from 5–9 p.m.
Harrison Benwell, Wonder Lake

Don’t miss your chance to cross-country ski on trails lit only by candlelight! Skiers of every experience level and age are welcome, but you must bring your own equipment. Gather around the campfire after your time out on the trail. Trails will be groomed for skiing if there is 4” of snow or more.  No pets please.
Not enough snow? Leave the skis at home and enjoy a candlelight hike, a campfire and the allure of the winter woods. Note: Check Before You Go, cancellations may occur due to weather (if trails are icy/hazardous or the wind chill drops below -20°) or staff emergencies. Check for alerts before you head out.

Seize the Day!
The snow has fallen and it’s time to drop everything and enjoy it! Sign up to receive an e-mail to let you know when and where we will be in the next 24 hours to enjoy the SNOW!!
Will it be…
…a Cross-Country Ski Lesson at Prairieview?
…a Snowshoe Hike at Pleasant Valley?
…Night Sledding at Glacial Park?
Have you ever been frustrated by the fact that there’s no snow when snow programs are planned, but then plenty of snow when they aren’t? We have, too!
In December, January & February staff members will be on call to offer a program or activity when we get that perfect snow. We’ll send a message 24 hours in advance with an invitation to join us when conditions are right!
Sound good? Call (815) 479-5779; or e-mail education@mccdistrict.org.

Christmas Tree Recycling
Dec. 26 –Jan. 15
Drop-off Sites:
• Glacial Park, Ringwood (off Harts Rd. & Route 31)
• Rush Creek, Harvard (twin oaks parking area—west of pond)
Tinsel and decorations must be removed. If trees are transported in a bag, please remove the bag. Commercial drop-offs are prohibited. Trees are processed into mulch, which will be available free of charge at a later date.

In Search of Eagles
Saturday, January 9:

Search for Eagles — 9–10:30 a.m.
McHenry Dam, Algonquin Dam, Carpentersville Dam

Representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Friends of Hackmatack Wildlife Refuge,
Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and McHenry County Audubon will be on hand
at locations along the Fox River in Illinois to help you search for eagles. There will be scopes
and binoculars available for use at each location, along with guided activities for children.
Visit the site closest to you or visit them all! Maps to the locations are here and on Friends of Hackmatack’s Facebook page @FriendsHackmatackNWR.

“Eagles and Osprey, Back from the Brink”— 1–2 p.m.
Online via Zoom platform. For Ages 14+. Fee: R Free/NR $2.00 Registration is required by 1/7/20. 

Christian W. Cold, retired wildlife technician and educator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Wildlife Management, presents an overview on the biology, life history and current status of bald eagles and ospreys in Wisconsin. He will provide a historical account on the decline and subsequent recovery of birds which experienced a period of reproductive failure due to the indiscriminate use of organochlorine pesticides, and recognize both birds as historical examples of species, which are now valued as living indicators (barometers) of environmental health and vigor.

Cross-Country Candlelight Ski/Hike
January 15 & 16
Both Friday and Saturday evenings from 5–9 p.m.
Marengo Ridge, Marengo

Don’t miss your chance to cross-country ski on trails lit only by candlelight! Skiers of every experience level and age are welcome, but you must bring your own equipment. Gather around the campfire after your time out on the trail. Trails will be groomed for skiing if there is 4” of snow or more.  No pets please.
Not enough snow? Leave the skis at home and enjoy a candlelight hike, a campfire and the allure of the winter woods. Note: Check Before You Go, cancellations may occur due to weather (if trails are icy/hazardous or the wind chill drops below -20°) or staff emergencies. Check for alerts before you head out.

Seize the Day!
The snow has fallen and it’s time to drop everything and enjoy it! Sign up to receive an e-mail to let you know when and where we will be in the next 24 hours to enjoy the SNOW!!
Will it be…
…a Cross-Country Ski Lesson at Prairieview?
…a Snowshoe Hike at Pleasant Valley?
…Night Sledding at Glacial Park?
Have you ever been frustrated by the fact that there’s no snow when snow programs are planned, but then plenty of snow when they aren’t? We have, too!
In December, January & February staff members will be on call to offer a program or activity when we get that perfect snow. We’ll send a message 24 hours in advance with an invitation to join us when conditions are right!
Sound good? Call (815) 479-5779; or e-mail education@mccdistrict.org.

Christmas Tree Recycling
Dec. 26 –Jan. 15
Drop-off Sites:
• Glacial Park, Ringwood (off Harts Rd. & Route 31)
• Rush Creek, Harvard (twin oaks parking area—west of pond)
Tinsel and decorations must be removed. If trees are transported in a bag, please remove the bag. Commercial drop-offs are prohibited. Trees are processed into mulch, which will be available free of charge at a later date.

Cross-Country Candlelight Ski/Hike
February 12 & 13
Both Friday and Saturday evenings from 5–9 p.m.
Prairieview Education Center, Crystal Lake

Don’t miss your chance to cross-country ski on trails lit only by candlelight! Skiers of every experience level and age are welcome, but you must bring your own equipment. Gather around the campfire after your time out on the trail. Trails will be groomed for skiing if there is 4” of snow or more.  No pets please.
Not enough snow? Leave the skis at home and enjoy a candlelight hike, a campfire and the allure of the winter woods. Note: Check Before You Go, cancellations may occur due to weather (if trails are icy/hazardous or the wind chill drops below -20°) or staff emergencies. Check for alerts before you head out.

Seize the Day!
The snow has fallen and it’s time to drop everything and enjoy it! Sign up to receive an e-mail to let you know when and where we will be in the next 24 hours to enjoy the SNOW!!
Will it be…
…a Cross-Country Ski Lesson at Prairieview?
…a Snowshoe Hike at Pleasant Valley?
…Night Sledding at Glacial Park?
Have you ever been frustrated by the fact that there’s no snow when snow programs are planned, but then plenty of snow when they aren’t? We have, too!
In December, January & February staff members will be on call to offer a program or activity when we get that perfect snow. We’ll send a message 24 hours in advance with an invitation to join us when conditions are right!
Sound good? Call (815) 479-5779; or e-mail education@mccdistrict.org.