Hawthorne Hill Programs

DSC_0152Facing West

Hawthorne Hill Nature Center is the perfect place to enjoy and learn about the natural landscapes that surround our region. The nature center provides year round opportunities for experiencing nature. Explore the trails to witness the rich fall colors, snow-frosted trees, spring wildflowers, summer amphibians, and an ever changing host of birds. Hawthorne Hill is an excellent place to relax, recreate and explore the natural world providing two ponds, acres of woodland, a mile of looped trails, and an interactive nature center. The 67 acre natural area that flanks both sides of Brookside Drive has a wheelchair accessible trail that leads to the pond and sedge meadow, as well as wide, 2-miles of wood-chipped trails to access other areas.

Hawthorne Hill Nature Center Logo.jpg

Nature Center Open Hours Saturdays; 10am-3pm

The Nature Center is open for all ages. To insure proper capacity limits and social distancing, we require you reserve your visit online in advance. Open Hours the Nature Center is for visitors to enjoy the hands-on learning centers, displays and meeting room.

Volunteer Opportunities 

Volunteers are needed to help with bird walks, events, outdoor restoration, office hours, and trail monitoring. We welcome both individuals and groups. Outdoor work days are the second Saturday of the month. Please contact Jan Monell, Facility Supervisor at Monell_j@cityofelgin.org or Morgan Lantz, Nature Program Coordinator at brill_m@cityofelgin.org or visit www.cityofelgin.org/hawthorne.

Outreach Resources for Teachers, Scouts, and Homeschool Groups

Teachers, Troop Leaders, and Homeschool Parents you can schedule a field trip or rent the nature center as a teaching space for your group. We have the option for group led field trips, and nature staff led field trips. We have resource materials upon request including IDNR Resource Trunks, field guides, magnifiers, a microscope, preserved specimens, posters, and books. For more information please contact Michelle Brill, Naturalist at brill_m@cityofelgin.org or visit www.cityofelgin.org/hawthorne.

Rentals Information at Hawthorne Hill Nature Center

The Center is available for rentals for gatherings, scout meetings or birthday parties. It has a large meeting room with a kitchenette that includes tables and chairs. For more information visit online at www.cityofelgin.org/1804/Rentals or email Jan Monell at Monell_j@cityofelgin.org. Rental Rates: Non-Profit: $65/hr. Res.: $70/hr. NR: $80/hr.

Please check the Elgin Parks and Recreation Brochure for current program offerings.

Scavenger Hunt

Twice a month we will post a unique and fun scavenger hunt you can do at Hawthorne Hill Nature Center. Go on a family hike using our QR code that will provide you a fun fact hike clue sheet. Hunt themes will change and hard copies will be available at Hawthorne Hill on the dates listed. 

Building in the Animal WorldAnimal Builders Scavenger HuntTrees in Winter Scavenger Hunt QR code 

Nature Craft Kits

Register to order your child a nature craft kit online for $5 and pick-up the kit on Saturday pick-up day at Hawthorne Hill Nature Center. Available twice a month, these kits contain supplies and instructions for at least 2 crafts. Examples of kits will be posted on HHNC Facebook page. Register online. 

Next pick-up at Hawthorne Hill on Saturday, Aug 28 from 10am - Noon

Code: 312004-02

Hawthorne Programming 

Bring your family to a new and unique outdoor activity at Hawthorne Hill Nature Center. Stop by the nature center to pick-up the Storytime Hike instructions. The story will come alive while walking along our trails. Each walk will feature a different story book for children ages 3-10 yr. olds. This is an adult led family activity outdoors. Bring a mask and keep a safe distance from other groups. No registration necessary.

Fall Storytime Hike:


Day: Friday-Saturday

Date: Sept. 24-25; Oct. 22-23; Nov. 19-20

Grandparents Day at HHNC

Create memories with your grandkids by going on a short, half-mile scavenger hike at Hawthorne Hill Nature Center. Gather nature treasures together and use them for crafts to commemorate the day! Feel free to pack snacks or a lunch and picnic with us while watching for birds and frogs in the pond. JM

Date: Saturday, 9/11               Age: 3 yrs. & Up

Fee: $5.00 per person (Res.) $8 per person (NR)

Course# 412005-01                Time: 11:00 am-1:00pm 

Family Campfire Night Hike

Come join us for a naturalist guided night hike in the woods. Learn about some of the adaptations that nocturnal creatures have developed and use to survive at night when the sun goes down. After the hike, star gaze and listen to the sounds that fill the forest and pond life with a campfire and smores. Dress for outside. JM

Date: Friday, 9/17      Age: 3 yrs. & up

Fee: $5 R/ $6 NR        

Course# 412009-01    Time: 7:00-8:30pm    

Monthly Wild Wednesday Drop-Ins

Visit us each month for a themed nature discovery day. A naturalist guided sensory walk outdoor followed by hands-on activities for children to play with in the center’s Discovery room. A parent or guardian must accompany their child for both the walk and Discovery room. JM

Dates: Wednesday:  9/22 (fall equinox), 10/6, 11/10, 12/8   Ages: 2-6 with adult guardian

Fee: Free Time: 10:30 am-Noon Walk 10:00- 10:30, Discovery room

Hike with a Naturalist

Join us for a naturalist guided hike in the woods. There are night and day hikes to choose. Learn about some of the adaptations that nocturnal creatures have developed and use to survive at night when the sun goes down. Get your blood circulating with a brisk hike. This guided hike will point out the food nature provides for its inhabitants. Collect and identify the leaves that you collect. There will be crafts and snacks afterwards available in the nature center. JM 

Fee: $5 R/ $6 NR        Age: 3-10 yr. with adult         Instructor: Michelle Brill, Naturalist 

Course# 412010-01    Date: Saturday, October 16    Time: 6:30-8:00pm 

Course# 412010-02    Date: Saturday, October 23    Time: 2:00-3:30pm