OAK BROOK – Those with a penchant for the outdoors who are seeking something different for Valentine's Day may want to venture into Fullersburg Woods with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County's annual Romantic Night Hike event, held this year from 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 10.
Jennifer Rydzewski has helped arrange the romantic night hike for the three years since she became a naturalist at Fullersburg Woods. The event, which started more than 10 years ago, is only open to adults.
"It's a unique date night, I would say. Something different to do, just to be outside and enjoy nature and connect to each other ... but we also have people who do come as groups of friends or like a group date," Rydzewski said.
When people come to the event, they check in at the visitor center, and they can go out and enjoy their time in the woods in a self-guided hike around the lantern-lit, roughly 1-mile trail.
"We also have fires going in our fireplaces outside, so there are some cozy spots to warm up while you're walking," she said.
There also are s'mores available for roasting at a shelter along the trail, and back in the visitor center's lower level, there will be music and plenty of sweet treats like brownies, cookies, warm teas and coffee so people can warm up and enjoy each other's company, Rydzewski said.
If it snows, there will be snowshoes available for rent, she said.
Rydzewski said some years the event sees more than 100 attendees.
"But the nice thing about it is that you can come and go as you want, as you please, so there's ... a lot of space for a lot of people," she said.
Many people return year after year, Rydzewski said.
"There was even one year when it was really cold ... and we still had a good amount of people come," she said.
Rydzewski recommended people dress warmly and bring layers. She said the event has never been canceled because of the cold.
Rydzewski and fellow naturalist Dave Andrusyk said their favorite part of the event is seeing lanterns along the trail at night.
"Sometimes, if it's a clear night, you can see the stars and the moon," Rydzewski said. "It's just quiet and peaceful, and refreshing to walk out and get that crisp, cold air in your face, and just enjoying all the people coming and being in a good mood and good company."
If you go
WHAT: Romantic Night Hike
WHEN: 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 10
WHERE: Fullersburg Woods, 3609 Spring Road, Oak Brook
COST: $7.50 per person (rent snowshoes for $8 per person)
INFO: shawurl.com/3808, 630-850-8110