These are the fall colors you're looking for

Leaves and rivers and bridges, oh my!

What are you waiting for? Sign up to get Tips from Dad in your inbox every week:

When it’s already late October, you have to act fast to catch the best of the fall colors, especially when we’ve had so many windy/rainy days lately—the perfect storm for prematurely pulling leaves off of trees.

I saw a friend on Instagram posting some photos of her family on an outing featuring some fully blooming autumn woods, so I made plans to check the place out ASAP this weekend. See? Sometimes social media FOMO can be a good thing! Take that, The Social Dilemma! Thanks for reading, and please let me know if you’ve taken in any good fall colors at locations I haven’t yet mentioned in previous newsletters.

Where To Go

Fullersberg Woods | Oak Brook

One thing that my family’s pandemic-fueled outings has proven time and again is that DuPage County is the place to be when it comes to all things natural and forest preserve-y.

Today we found ourselves crossing county lines yet again to explore Fullersberg Woods Nature Education Center. We never made it to the Education Center (which is actually closed for COVID anyway), but we sure did enjoy the woods!

It was decently crowded, but we had no trouble finding a spot in the main parking lot with the number of people who were coming and going. I had my four-year-old and two-year-old with me, so I brought along our jogging stroller so we could cover more ground and beat a hasty retreat if the kids got too tired.

As you can see from the map, there are several trail options that wind their way around Salt Creek. We barely scratched the surface, so this is another destination that deserves further exploration and probably looks gorgeous in all seasons.

Given my kids’ proclivity for throwing rocks into bodies of water from bridges, I knew that we wouldn’t be able to leave without christening Salt Creek with some stones, so we headed immediately for Flat Bridge. The surrounding area is perfectly picturesque for your album cover, back of the book author photo, or simply a new profile pic.

The fun of Flat Bridge is that the river has a bit of a current, so even though there weren’t that many good pebbles for launching, there were plenty of leaves to throw in on one side of the bridge and then watch for on the other side, as the leaves raced each other down the creek.

As we began our jaunt into the woods, it became evident that the intoxicating blend of harsh sunlight glowing through red-orange leaves had proven too tempting for many local photographers and families in need of a fall photo shoot. It seemed like every giant fallen limb was occupied by two parents and two children in their fall flannel finery, trying to get the kids to smile and look in the same direction at the same time.

We continued to hug Salt Creek as we traveled southward on the path along Spring Road. It was nice, but the traffic was taking away from the serenity a bit, so we soon turned around, crossed Flat Bridge, and took the trail north on the easternmost end of the preserve. This time we were walking along the creek on one side and private property on the other. Many of these magnificent homes have openings in their fences that allow them to access the trail from their backyards. One of the homes is currently for sale and had a prominent sign positioned just off the trail. For a cool million dollars, all this can be yours. The subdivision is also called Robin Hood Ranch, which makes it extra chic, especially when you have Sherwood Forest right behind your property.

We decided to call it a day after another half mile or so, and never made it to two further attractions—the Salt Creek Overlook and the Rainbow Bridge (which just makes me think of Mario Kart…). I am already planning to come back here over the winter, as I think a frozen creek and snow-covered trees could be mighty pretty as well.

Tips from Dad

  • Bring a stroller. Most of the paths are limestone, so it was pretty easy to push our jogging stroller, and I think a regular stroller would be fine as well.

  • Beware of hills. The trails would be beautiful for running—and if I lived closer I would definitely give it a try—but at least on the outer path we were on, the inclines were somewhat hilly. This could be an issue for people who have trouble walking on inclines as well. I saw an older gentleman almost slip on a leaf just in the short time that we were there.

  • Pack a lunch. There are picnic tables at various points throughout the preserve (so I read), but I saw one particularly nice area with a lot of picnic tables overlooking the creek behind the visitor’s center. Even though the center is closed, the tables were still accessible.

  • Bring a camera. Seriously, this is a great place for outdoor photos of you or your family. With the creek running along most of the path, the views keep changing and provide endless Kodak moments.

What to Watch

The Curse by Josh Ritter

I found this offbeat Halloweenish video when I was in college and I like to revisit it each Halloween. I love the puppeteering and I find the song hauntingly beautiful. Songwriter Josh Ritter has a lot of other good folksy/Americana songs, too. Check him out on Spotify.

In a future newsletter, I will be sharing a roundup of the best family meal deals I have found from local suburban restaurants throughout the pandemic. If you have a favorite, drop me a line at Thanks for reading and please share this post with the button below if you know someone who would enjoy this newsletter!