Dominated by a core of century old red and white oaks, the environmental significance of Coral Woods is the protection of these diminishing oak woodlands. Coral Woods represents one of only eight oak groves which remain in McHenry County that contains 100 acres or more of continuous oak woodland. This conservation area also boasts the county’s largest sugar maple grove where trees have stood for 80-100 years.
In autumn the brilliant colors of red, orange, and yellow leaves from oaks, hickories, and sugar maples make this a favorite fall hiking spot. In the spring, the woodlands are noted for their spectacular show of spring wildflowers. Sharp-lobed hepatica, Jack-in-the-pulpit, wood anemone, spring beauty, toothwort, and bloodroot give way to wild geranium, blue phlox, and red trillium.
Throughout the year, the trees at Coral Woods are an attractive respite for numerous songbirds, owls and woodpeckers. Scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings, numerous warblers, flickers, bluebirds, meadowlarks, great horned owls and screech owls, as well as downy and hairy woodpeckers claim these woods as their home. Nesting boxes are also strategically placed along the edge where prairie and woodland meet to encourage the re-population of bluebirds. Chorus frogs, tiger salamanders, leopard frogs, and painted turtles can often be seen enjoying the springtime vernal ponds along the trail.
Things To Do
Hiking: Coral Woods offers three trail systems. The Sugar Maple Loop trail is a short .4 mile walk off the parking lot. During the fall this trail displays an array of vibrant red, yellow, and orange colored leaves. For a longer trek, the 1.2 mile Nature Loop trail is known for its woodland wildflowers during the spring . The 1.2 mile hiking/ski trail is another favorite. Visitors can hike through maples, oaks, and a grassy sloping field. Wildlife is active in the these woods and visitors are sure to catch a glimpse of deer, numerous birds, and an occasional turtle enjoying the seclusion of an ephemeral pond.
Shelters/Picnic: A reserveable picnic shelter with fireplace and picnic area are available for up to 80 guests or can be used for free for casual day use individuals and groups less than 15.
Cross Country Ski: A 1.5 mile trail is open for cross country skiing. The trail is not groomed but is on relatively flat terrain, ideal for beginning skiers.
Birdwatching: Birdwatching is popular at Coral Woods during migrations, as well as during the summer when many birds nest in the branches of the mature white oaks. Watch for the white breasted nuthatch, northern flicker, red-eyed vireo, scarlet tanager, American goldfinch, indigo bunting, blue jay, robin, downy woodpecker, great-crested flycatcher and cedar waxwing.