Are you looking to explore the wilds of Chicago? Yes, believe it or not, the Great Outdoors is actually very close to the Windy City!
Load up your pack, lace up your boots, grab a trail map, and visit these locations.
Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve
Located less than a 30-minute drive from the Loop, this scenic riverside park has 221 acres and over five miles of trails to explore. The preserve is situated on the banks of the Salt Creek and the historical Graue Mill.
Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve has 221 acres and over five miles of trails to explore. The preserve is situated on the banks of the Salt Creek. Here’s the Salt Creek waterfall.
Red fox, coyote, and whitetail deer may all be observed in this scenic preserve. Two dams and four footbridges provide access to trails located on both sides of the creek. Opened to the public in 1920, the preserve showcases a large number of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) buildings and the park has an environmental education center on the grounds.
The most scenic and least traveled trails can be found in the Paul Butler Nature Area. The park can best be described as a hidden outdoor oasis set amidst suburban sprawl. The historic Graue Mill and the Ben Fuller House showcase a glimpse of DuPage County’s past.
But there’s more: After the trails, to replenish those spent carbs, visit the York Tavern, conveniently located next to the park’s mill.
For more information: Fullersburg Wood Forest Preserve, 3609 Spring Road, Oakbrook, IL 60521, (630) 850-8110.
Directions From The Loop
Interstate-290 west to Roosevelt RD., west on Roosevelt to York RD., south on York to Spring RD. (look for mill), right on Spring RD to preserve entrance.
Located 83 miles northwest of Chicago in McHenry County, the 3,000-acre park of rolling hills, savannas, marshes, and kames has over six miles of trails to explore.
Wildlife lovers may catch a glimpse of whitetail deer, coyote, fox, and hawks. “It’s gorgeous out here,” says Kate Halma of the McHenry County Conservation District. Day hikers can choose from the 2.1-mile Deerpath Trail (hardest), the 4-mile Nippersink Trail (an out and back trail), the 1.1-mile Marsh Loop Trail, and the 1.2-mile Coyote Loop Trail.
After the trails: For a quick bite and a pint stop in at the Colonel’s.
For more information: McHenry County Conservation District, 18410 U.S. Hwy 14, Woodstock, IL, 60098, (815) 678-4431.
Lowden-Miller State Forest
Located 90 miles west of Chicago, Lowden-Miller State Forest has over 22 miles of trails to explore.
“We have the nicest track of timber in Illinois,” says Jeff Hendricks, assistant superintendent of the forest. Great stands of white pines, most over 100 feet give the trekker a chance to kick back, relax and unwind in the 2,225-acre forest.
Located 83 miles northwest of Chicago, the 3,000-acre Glacier Park features rolling hills, savannas, marshes,and kames, and has over six miles of trails to explore.
The trails are well marked, but be sure to bring a compass and trail map. There are six access points along the forest that border the Rock River. Great views of Castle Rock State Park may be observed from the south bank of the Rock River. Wildlife sightings may include whitetail deer, turkey, and hawks. Hunting is allowed at the forest, so be sure to check with forest staff before departure. If you’re looking for isolation, head for the forest’s southern end; the trails here are less developed and visited.
After the trails: If you’re looking for a place to eat, head over to Blackhawk’s, the Red Apple, or the Roadhouse. History buffs should head over to the John Deere Home and the boyhood home of President Ronald Reagan in nearby Dixon, Ill.
Directions From The Loop
Interstate-88 west to I-39, north on I-39 to Rt. 64, west on 64 to park.