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Sign up now for outdoor Family Weekend fun at SIU’s Touch of Nature

A person running a race on a dirt path by a lake
Provided by SIU News

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center is hosting a full slate of outdoor activities for all ages, including rock climbing, moonlight paddling and more this year as its popular annual run/walk event falls on Family Weekend.

“We really want to encourage families who are traveling to the area as well as those from the local area to experience the beauty of campus and the beauty of the great outdoors at Touch of Nature,” said Brian Croft, director of Touch of Nature. “We’re hosting a diverse assortment of activities to appeal to people of all ages and give them a chance to see just how special this region is.”

All of the events take place at Touch of Nature, 1206 Touch of Nature Road, about 8 miles south of Carbondale off Giant City Road.

Sign up for the family rock climb

Anyone age 7 or older is welcome to join in a great outdoor adventure, a Family Weekend rock climb, set for Sept. 29 from 1-4 p.m. at Giant City State Park. All skill and fitness levels are welcome, and skilled instructors will lead the adventure that begins in Shelter 1.

Pre-registration is required, and the cost is $5 per person.

Moonlight dinner and paddle

All are welcome to enjoy an enchanted evening under the stars featuring a moonlight campfire dinner and relaxing paddle on Little Grassy Lake on Sept. 29. The doors open at 5:30 p.m. with dinner at 6 p.m.

After the meal, visitors can enjoy paddling on the lake with provided equipment. No experience is required.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for ages 15 and younger. Pre-registration is required.

Run/walk registration open now

Registration is now underway for the eighth Rocky Ledges 5K/10K Trail Run/Walk, which takes place beginning at 10 a.m. Sept. 30 among the beautiful, forested lakeside trails of Touch of Nature’s Camp 2. Check-in and late registration begin at 8:30 a.m.

The course and rewards

While the races begin and end at Camp 2, each course covers a wide variety of terrains, encompassing wooded areas and hills, and runners also will enjoy views of Little Grassy Lake. View the full course maps online.

Race participants receive their choice of a hat or T-shirt. Prizes will be awarded for the top three runners in the various age groups within each division as well as the top three overall finishers. The awards presentation will follow the race. Spectators are welcome.

Register early and save

Sign up in advance for each of the races to pay a reduced registration fee. The cost for the 5K run is $30 if paid by 11:59 p.m. Sept. 29 or $25 for ages 1-17. Early registration for the 10K run is $35 for adults or $30 for ages 1-17. You can register the day of the event, but the price is $5 higher.

Register online.

For additional information, contact Sydney Devine, fitness coordinator, at sydney.devine@siu.edu or 618-453-1275 or Victor Martin, program director, at victor.martin@siu.edu or 618-453-1284.

Find more information, including past race results and the results from the 2023 race when they become available, by visiting the website.

For additional information

Call 618-453-1121 or email ton@siu.edu for more information about any of the Touch of Nature activities.


Christi Mathis — student affairs; diversity, equity and inclusion; business and analytics; education; health and human sciences; psychological and behavioral sciences; innovation and economic development; international education.

SIU News is produced by University Communications and Marketing - 618-453-2589. Twitter: @SIUCNews
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