Silver Springs Fish and Wildlife Area: “Do you hear the electricity?”

A last minute decision by us, we drove down to Silver Springs in Yorkville, so we could take advantage of  Steph’s summer hours and the nice weather. We wanted something a little smaller this week, in anticipation of some very ambitious parks coming up.

This park is named for the naturally occurring springs that bubble up all year. When it is sunny, the water reflects the light and makes it look like silver. The springs feed into the Fox River, which runs along the north end of the park. There are also two artificial lakes, all of which make this a very good spot to go fishing. The main entrance will take you close to Loon Lake, the bigger of the two. However, we accidentally drove past that entrance, and parked by a picnic area and playground.

Side note: We don’t know what the difference between a state park and a Fish & Wildlife area is. Silver Springs in particular has “Fish and Wildlife Area” on everything official, but we found sources that refer to it as a state park. It also has just as many amenities as most state parks. For this reason, we will be referring to this area as a park for this post. If anyone knows what the difference is, please let us know! Hopefully we know more before our next Fish and Wildlife area.

This park proved very different from Illinois Beach right away. The landscapes were different of course, with the beach and marshy areas, versus a walk through the woods. But the most interesting difference was the trails themselves. A good amount of the trails were places you can drive, the main area for this being the part of the road that goes along the river. Nearly all parts of this park are accessible with very little hiking if you chose, parking areas seemed to dot both roads. Additionally, the trails that weren’t paved were much better defined and well marked. We never got mixed up by where the trails were or got confused by which trail to take.

We started by walking along the road downhill to the river. The grass was covered with crab apples and giant acorns, so both of us warning each other so we didn’t trip and fall. This park would be ideal for picnics, as there were several picnic tables along the river, near loon lake, and closer to the entrance. Many of these areas had old fashioned grills, although they all looked pretty rusty, as if they were placed when the park opened in 1969.

The path we took eventually turned away from the river and led us to Loon Lake. Sometimes known as Silver Spring Lake, this seemed to be the main attraction for the whole park. It is 21 acres big, and has the prettiest blue water. There are plenty of spots around to stop and look out across the water or to fish. In fact, we saw people of all ages spending their afternoon at the park by this lake fishing. We found a deck with built-in benches to snap a few pictures and take in a minute of reflection. There is no visitor center or nature center in this park, but there is a concession building in this area where you could normally buy bait or rent canoes. Unfortunately, it was closed the day we went, so we had to keep walking.

We went back to the wooded path and headed to Silver Springs itself next. It was a small pool of water with an old wooden platform built over it. The area was very serene, but it was too cloudy at the time to see the effect of the sunlight on the pool. After Steph confirmed that the water was cold and Emma conquered a rock, we headed further into the woods.

We walked a while along the river again, warning each other about errant tree roots and other trip hazards. Finally, the path led to an area that was cleared of any trees, instead taken over by very tall grasses and wildflowers. The trees had been cleared because CoMed Towers were built here and electrical wires run overhead. This was initially pretty neat, neither of us had ever been so close to those kinds of towers before. Then we paused to take some pictures of the flowers and the only sound was the hum of the electricity. It’s the kind of noise you can’t unhear, and we decided it was too unnerving to stick around, so we followed the path back into the woods.

This final stretch of trail brought us past a meadow perfect to frolic through, and back to Loon Lake. It looked like the lake was split in two by the grassy path. On our right was the beautiful, picture-worthy blue lake, and on our left was what may have been a large body of standing water. At all the other ponds we saw the water was green, either from being murky or from algae growing on the surface. This water did not look very green to us. While definitely murky, the water instead looked black, the kind you might associate with a starry sky on a cloudless night, when it seems like you can see the whole galaxy. But it was too hot to think of the poetic implications, so we instead kept walking.

Our last challenge was going up a steep hill and finishing on a grassy path that finally let out into the picnic area where we parked. After a high five to celebrate neither of us tripping on the hill, we headed out. On our drive back, we noticed the equestrian trails, and the areas for archery and trap shooting. Archery is something we enjoy, but it was “bring your own bow and arrows”, so we just made a note to come back some day, and went to get drinks at the flight shoppe.

At the Flight and Bottle Shoppe, we each ordered tastings instead of a glass, feeling like we’d earned a little extra. The flights come on wooden propellers, going with the airplane theme. It opened in September of 2019, after a group of friends bonded over their love of beer, and wanted a place in town to enjoy many different types of craft drinks. The options offered are changing all the time, so you are sure to find something you like. We had seasonal options that we would have recommended, but many of them are no longer on tap. But this place doesn’t just have beer, there are all kinds of obscure and regional spirits available for purchase. Stephanie bought one of every pumpkin beer, because fall is coming and she wants to find the best one (although she’s pretty sure that the Pumpkin Ale from Schlafly is still going to be her favorite). 

When it comes to Silver Springs, we would highly recommend giving it a visit. The area of Chicago we live in has plenty of forest preserves, and this park felt like quintessential Illinois for that reason. We had a very good time walking through the woods, by the lake, and near the electrical towers (before hearing the electricity). For anyone who wants a quiet walk outside, please visit Silver Springs.

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