Smile Politely

Hidden Acres offers tranquil trails if you can find it

Traveling north on County Road 2400 East from 1000 North, you have only about a mile left to blink regularly; because if you blink after that, you’ll miss it. As its name suggests, this little-known park – considered a satellite park of Homer Lake – is truly a hidden gem. Hidden Acres is a 28-acre park in the Champaign County Forest Preserve, and it is, by far, my favorite place to take a walk in the woods. While Sylvester Woods offers visitors the opportunity to walk freely through a small patch of original, never-been-plowed forest, Hidden Acres offers an easy trail and is open to pets.

The entrance to the trail at Hidden Acres. Photo by Benjamin Holbrook.

Pushed up along the banks of the Salt Fork, the park offers two pathways: The Bluebell Trail (0.6 miles), and a short interior loop called the Pawpaw Loop (0.15 miles). In the Spring, the Bluebell Trail offers visitors opportunities to see many types of East-Central Illinois wildflowers. And in the Fall, visitors may find a rare pawpaw fruit, the largest edible fruit indigenous to the United States, growing in one of the many groves of trees.

Pawpaws ripening in forest. Photo by Benjamin Holbrook.

If fishing is your thing, Hidden Acres also sports a small lake open to fishing (though there is signage to indicate limits).  After discovering the park, it quickly became one of my favorite places to take a quiet walk through the woods and along the river. If you find yourself heading out toward Homer Lake for a short hike, consider turning off on 2400 East and try your hand at uncovering Hidden Acres for yourself.

The lake at Hidden Acres. Photo by Benjamin Holbrook. 

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