DuPage County forest preserves are magnificent and beautiful during any season. Rigorous hikes along hilly terrains and comfortable strolls through spectacular gardens in blooms provide a wonderful connection to nature and our inner spirit. The following hiking spots are favorites of outdoor enthusiasts – remember to check website for up-to-date information before heading out:
1. The Morton Arboretum
A stunning natural area open 365 days of the year with 1,700 acres to explore, this natural outdoor living museum brings people and communities together. It holds more than 222,000 live plants from around the world. Grounds include a Visitor Center with The Arboretum Store and Ginkgo Restaurant and Café, a four-acre Children’s Garden, a one-acre Maze Garden, the Sterling Morton Library, the Plant Clinic, nine miles of roads, and 16 miles of trails.
2. Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve
Waterfall Glen is consistently ranked among the best hiking experiences near Chicago and is one of the most ecologically-impressive parcels of open space in DuPage County. In addition to Rocky Glen Waterfall, the preserve is known for The Sawmill Creek Bluff overlook and over 10 miles of hiking trails, including unmarked foot paths. It is also the site of several quarries that historically produced limestone for landmarks such as the Chicago Water Tower.
3. Fermilab Natural Areas (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory)
Fermilab offers 6,800 acres of pristine land, complete with hiking trails, an off-leash dog park and Native American bison roaming the prairie land. Hands-on exhibits at the Leon Lederman Science Education Center and the Fermilab Art Gallery in Wilson Hall are visitor favorites.
4. Blackwell Forest Preserve
Blackwell is a local favorite, encompassing 1,366 acres of gently rolling hilly terrain. The forest preserve made paleontological history when a 13,000-year old skeleton of a woolly mammoth was uncovered in 1977 by a Forest Preserve employee. Fun Fact: the land was shaped by the Wisconsin Glacier melting over 12,000 years ago.
5. Cantigny Park
Colonel Robert R. McCormick, the former Chicago Tribune owner, left his 500-acre estate for all to enjoy. Education and recreation opportunities include two museums, expansive gardens, a picnic area, Red Oaks Farm playground and the fully-appointed Visitors Center. Cantigny Golf is home to 27 challenging and scenic holes. An ongoing parkwide renovation, Project New Leaf, will be completed by late summer 2020.
6. Illinois Prairie Path
DuPage is home to the first successful rail-to-trail conversion in the United States – the Illinois Prairie Path. The path spans over 40 miles in DuPage, and is a main artery connecting communities, quaint downtowns, forest preserves and recreational trails. Regardless of your fitness level, the Illinois Prairie Path helps residents and visitors stay active year-round.
7. Fullersburg Woods
Fullersburg Woods is a prime wildlife haven, featuring miles of multipurpose trails open to hikers, cyclists, horseback riders, cross-country skiers and dog walkers. It features a self-guided tour of the 1.3-mile interpretive trail through lowland woods and restored prairies. A section of the trail connects the nature education center to the Graue Mill and Museum, Graue House and Ben Fuller House. The Wildflower Trail travels through the woods and restored prairie, showcasing many native species of wildflowers.
8. The DuPage River Trail
The DuPage River Trail is planned to travel 40 miles from Channahon north into DuPage County. Three segments of the trail are completed, totaling 8.56 miles. Hammel Woods trail can be accessed via Black Road or Route 59 in Shorewood. Whalon Lake can be accessed at Royce Road and Book Road in Naperville. The paved trails bring hikers through open areas and a historic farmstead.
9. Great Western Trail
The eastern segment of the Great Western Trail in Illinois follows 12 miles of an abandoned railway corridor through DuPage County, between Villa Park and West Chicago. The crushed limestone trail is a favorite for cyclists, walkers, joggers, equestrians and cross-country skiers.
10. Herrick Lake
Situated on 887-acres, Herrick Lake is one of DuPage County’s most popular preserves, with seven miles of trails, including a section of the nationally-designated Danada-Herrick Lake Regional Trail. A path around the lake connects both parking lots to the picnic grounds and trailhead, and additional trails cut through central and southern parts of the preserve.