It’s well known that spending time outdoors has a positive effect on our health – physically and mentally. Whether seeking serenity or adventure, you will find your place of restoration in DuPage County, with nearly 500 miles of recreational trails, and a myriad of classes and excursions. DuPage is the destination for a dose of nature – 365 days a year.

Kayaking in Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in DuPage County

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve is consistently ranked among the best hiking experiences near Chicago. Waterfall Glen is one of the most ecologically impressive parcels of open space in DuPage County, if not northern Illinois. In addition to Rocky Glen waterfall, the preserve is known for Sawmill Creek Bluff overlook and over 10 miles of hiking trails including unmarked foot paths. The preserve is also the site of several quarries that historically produced limestone for landmarks such as the Chicago Water Tower.

Many people assume that Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve is named after the well-known falls, however it was named in honor of Seymour “Bud” Waterfall, an early president of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County’s Board of Commissioners.

Blackwell Forest Preserve is also a local favorite, encompassing 1,366 acres of gently rolling hilly terrain that was shaped by the Wisconsin Glacier melting over 12,000 years ago. Speaking of old, 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. While there aren’t woolly mammoths roaming around these days, the preserve does attract a variety of wildlife that can be seen on any given day. Plan a trip to Blackwell to experience hiking, fishing, boat rentals and more.

Sunset at Blackwell Forest Preserve

Comprised of 1,700 acres with over 4,000 species of trees, The Morton Arboretum is a stunning natural area open year round. The Arboretum conducts ongoing leading scientific research on tree health and tree improvement, collects and displays trees for study and enjoyment on the grounds, offers educational programming for adults and children and presents nature-related activities year-round for people of all ages and interests. The living collections continue to inspire visitors to appreciate, learn about, plant, and protect trees.

Aerial view of The Morton Arboretum in DuPage County

The DuPage River is one of DuPage County’s hidden gems offering a surprisingly natural setting in the suburbs. Flowing calmly through scenic forest preserves with several easy access launch areas and continuing alongside the beautiful Downtown Naperville Riverwalk, the West Branch of the river provides a peaceful kayaking experience. If the water levels are low, or adventuring by foot is preferred, the many DuPage County forest preserves that border the river provide an equally serene experience. Whether on foot or boat, fishing is permitted along both branches of the DuPage River.

Fishing along the DuPage River