What we're about


This is a great group for people who want to get outdoors walking and hiking with others. We walk and hike year round at a Forest Preserve or other municipal trails. Depending on the pace of the individual hikers on a hike the group can spread out so that everyone can hike/walk at a comfortable pace. The pace for all hikes will range on average from 2.8 mph to 3.2 mph. Nobody will be left behind and faster walkers will stop periodically and wait for the rest.

Daily walks scheduled at Herrick lake. New hikes are typically scheduled on weekends. Hikes I have done before that are close to where I live are scheduled weekdays during evening hours. When the time change occurs in Fall I can no longer do those. All hikes will be canceled if weather conditions predict rain or snow.

This group is not geared toward fast-paced 3.5+ mph cardio workout. As the organizer my fastest pace as of today is 3.2 mph. I welcome others who want walk faster! If you wish to forge on ahead I can show you our route ahead of time. You and others are welcome to go on ahead. Its your choice to go to an endpoint and wait for us, or blaze new trails on your own. As a leader of this group I am totally flexible and delighted to introduce you to a new place to explore on your own at a pace that suits you.

At over 925 members we are obviously at different levels. I just set a destination and route that others can follow at their own pace. One thing for certain: I will NEVER leave anyone behind. Its happened to me more than once in another group. They had no published speed. But even if they did, I did not know how fast I walked. I did not know my way thru Herrick Lake those two weeks and everybody took off without me except for a two kind gentleman, one each week. After that I never hiked with that group but did hike out of state in Vermont and Colorado that year, 2016 taking it slow.

Please message an organizer if you have concerns about your ability to do a hike in advance.

We get our exercise and stay fit by walking. Some of us enjoy observing nature as it happens and stop to take pictures. Maybe we will pause to look at a raptor circling over a field in search of prey. Or perhaps stop briefly to photograph beautiful wildflowers. In the interest of all, we cannot stop too many times because there is a time frame when we should finish. Those who do wish to take photos should try to catch up with the group.

We hike from 2 to 8 miles. In the future we may include some 10 mile hikes.

"Collar Counties” is a term applied to the five counties that surround centrally located Cook County in the Chicago metropolitan area: DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Kendall and Will.

The virus:
Do not attend an event if you have cold symptoms. If you want to wear a mask wear one, they are not required. If you have concerns about walking with a group then don't walk with us. I will not remind you to stay 6 feet apart because you are all adults and fully capable of making informed decisions for yourself.

Intolerance of others in our group: Any expressions whether demeaning or perverse will cause a person to be blocked out of this meetup group. Please message me privately if you experience this. I will not allow any expressions of this sort based on race, ethnicity, LGBTQ, religion, handicap (mental or physical), age, or gender.

Sexual Harassment:
I know what it is first hand from my own experience at meetup. What part of "I am married and I am not interested in you" do you not understand?
Someone comes across as friendly that you might want to do things with totally innocent, bike, hike whatever. Then you give them your phone number. Before long they are texting you at 4 am in the morning saying stuff like "Thinking about you babe". Private message me if it happens to you. Your "No" is enough. If it continues beyond that I will block the person. I do not block people just because they express an interest in someone, to me that is extreme.

Our political differences as fellow hikers:
I discourage members from engaging in political discussions. The trail is meant to be a peaceful experience and not stir up heated emotions. I'm obviously not here to control your freedom of speech. Just please take into context who you are speaking with and whether or not they are like minded. If they are not like minded drop the subject immediately.

Fundraisers and causes:
This group does not participate in causes such as breast cancer awareness nor any others. It is beyond the scope of this group.

Dogs are welcome on nearly all hikes. I will rarely schedule a hike unless dogs are allowed. In the rare event that I do, it will be clearly posted that dogs are not permitted.

We welcome our members to bring guests with them on nearly all hikes and activities except for when specific conditions limit the size of the group.

All participants must be 12 years or older. I will not check your kids ID. This is just a recommendation.
Some hikes are in rough areas and can include steep ravines, dams and dangerous areas. There are damns which adults have drowned in when trying to swim. You accept responsibility for your children's safety as all adults accept responsibility for their own safety.

Music on the trail
You must wear headphones if you want to listen to music while hiking or walking with us. Speakers that everyone can hear are not permitted. If we have a picnic somewhere afterwards when we are done hiking then music is an option.

Not Sure if this is the Hiking Group for you? If you have any reservations if this is the right hiking group for you come out and join us. There are no obligations nor fees. You will never be removed from the group for lack of attendance. I've been there, having not participated in meetup for over 4 years then deciding to start attending. We are a very friendly and inviting group. I'm sure you will find someone you can chat with as we hike together.

Silence while on the trail
If you prefer not to chat just walk a bit behind or ahead of the group. Talking to people is not an obligation. A walk in nature does not have to be a social experience. You can do that by following us a bit further behind or walking ahead. In Aug 2018 I experienced tragedy and avoided lots of meetups with people due to not wanting to talk. I ask people in this group to respect wishes of people who simply want to walk and not socialize.

Membership Dues: None

Suggestions for Hikes:
As organizers we welcome suggestions for places for our group to hike.

Weather radar will be checked 2 hours before the time of the event all seasons. If there is a chance of rain, freezing rain or snow the hike will be canceled and a message posted to meetup.
In Winter, there is always ice on some part of any trail. Please do not assume that if you hike with us that you will not encounter ice. You will most certainly encounter ice and it is your responsibility to get a great pair of cleats that can help with traction.

When planning on attending hikes please consider these factors: your general health, level of ability to handle hiking, the appropriate shoes and outerwear depending on the season of the hike, appropriate hydration,

You may need trekking poles because it helps with balance on uneven ground surfaces and hills. Always be prepared for slippery areas. Ice cleats which slip over boots are a must in Winter! They come in a variety of different styles. Please check with friends, family, read google reviews, or ask our other hikers for information about them. Here is a link to get started https://www.amazon.com/Yaktrax-Walk-Traction-Cleats-Walking/dp/B01LJ6FX3C
The style may not be to your liking but there are multiple styles. Amazon offers free returns. Regardless of which you choose, these are a MUST if you wish to walk with us in Winter.

Be prepared for changes in weather conditions especially on longer hikes. There are always risks involved in hiking and more so during Winter. We may reduce the length of a hike if weather conditions dictate.

Always bring water to hydrate! The amount of water should be equivalent to the length of the hike. 32 ounces for a 4 mile hike is a bare minimum recommendation when temperatures are in the mid 80s or above.

By participating in any of our events you agree to accept these risks and that the event leaders shall not be held liable.

History of the group
This group was founded in November 2008. It started out as Near West Suburbs Movie group. I figured this out by looking at old photos and saw a dark haired lady wearing a meetup shirt that said "Near West Suburbs Movie meetup group". They went to movies at first and then expanded to other social activities such as bowling and dining out. They held their first meetup on 11/30/2008 and saw the move "Four Christmases". I do not know the original organizers name, but a few of their members tagged in photos were Jennifer, Marine, Mary, Cat, BJ, and Chris. Enid. Many of their events were held in the Melrose Park area but they did venture out to Great America for Fright Fest night as well as other venues.

On 10/31/2010 I saw in our history that Enid, a member of Near West Suburbs Movie Group, led the very first walk in Morton Arboretum. I then found a picture of Enid wearing a shirt that said "Suburban Walking, Hiking, and Social Group". The transition of leadership to my understanding occurred on 10/31/2010. Enid and probably others led the group on mostly hiking, biking and some social events.

Enid is the person who first transformed this meetup group into what it is today. After Enid took ownership the group had a heavy emphasis on hiking and the outdoors though they did do other activities. I reviewed some of her meetup descriptions and found them to be of very high quality. Unfortunately like countless others, she is no longer a member and history is lost.

05/25/2013 (maybe just a little before), Lynn took over from Enid. I have no information that tells me that a different person was running the group. I do believe that a few others were organizing hikes and Enid was still financially responsible for the meetup group when Lynn took over.

Lynn ran this group longer than anyone else. I took over in June 2019 when Lynn announced that she would be closing down the group. I will never have her level of expertise about the natural habitats and ecology of areas. Some of our members are very knowledgeable about native habitats, plant and tree identification and all things ecological. Tom Vilardo is our expert in this area and is one of the earliest remaining members of the group. He led a hike in April, 2012! We do have a handful of members who joined before Tom. I hope to see the pioneers of this group out on the trail sometime!

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