Brilliant Stories

Terri's Tuesday Trails: Homer Lake Forest Preserve

October 22, 2019

I'll admit, I was a little hesitant to head out this morning. It was blustery, overcast and chilly. However, Homer Lake Forest Preserve never disappoints and today was no different. Homer is on the East side of Champaign County, and the entrance to the preserve is surrounded by farmland. There's a barn just outside the main entrance that catches my eye every time I head to the park, and it's such a welcome sight this time of year. 


This was going to be a different type of run for me, as it is a trail paved areas. Let's just say I'm prone to ankle injuries, so in between looking at the colorful setting surrounding me, I was also staring straight at the ground as I could roll my ankle on a pebble, let alone on tree roots and other debris you find on trails. I made it out successfully with only a few close calls, certainly presenting a challenge for me. 


This forest preserve has a number of trails for hiking, walking and running, but I stuck to the West side as suggested to me on Facebook. The preserve as a whole has 814 acres and has a large, beautiful lake that's perfect for fishing and kayaking. The Interpretive Center at the main entrance focuses on education on area wildlife and a variety of interactive exhibits, while the Natural Playscape is a favorite for kids to play on all year long. The trail I ran could go up to 4.9 miles depending on which loop you take, but I stayed along the lake and got in about 2.5 miles, though my GPS wasn't really keeping up.


Here's the many sites I saw along today's run.

Start of the trail that was next to the Salt Fork Center. So many leaves are already hitting the ground. 

No matter where I was on the trail, I was always near the lake. The trees surrounding the lake are showcasing incredible fall colors right now.  

More vivid colors peeking through.

I was tempted to sit on the bench and just take in the view for awhile, but the wind was blowing so it was time to keep moving. 

The sun came out! About a mile into the run, I came into this prairie and the trees in the distance and the perfectly blue sky were absolutely picture-perfect. I opted not to take this turn in the trail but it was very inviting and tempting. 

Coming back to the lake, I came upon a flock of ducks that were starting to take off. Caught them as they started their flight. 

Future picnic site? Yes please!

The view here never ceases to amaze me. Central Illinois really does knock it out of the park. 

Back outside the Salt Fork Center, there's a dock for launching your boat when you head out to canoe, kayak or fish.  The Salt Fork Center is ideally situated off the lake for unmatched views for events. Been to a few weddings here! 

Not sure I totally trust my GPS today, as I certainly felt like I went a bit farther, but maybe it was the wind and my paranoia of tripping on a tree branch.


This was an Outside of Ordinary run today. Thanks to our Facebook follower, Curtis, for not only recommending Homer Lake, but also specifying the West Side. Try to get out to this spot while the fall foliage is at it's best! What ideas do you have for future runs? Comment on our Facebook page!


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