The large and well-rounded Arthur Janura Forest Preserve in Hoffman Estates offers as many activities as it has names. Visitors may know the area or sections of it as Poplar Creek, Shoe Factory Road Woods or Carl Hansen Woods, but no matter what one calls this 4,366-acre complex of trails, restored prairies, oak woodlands and ponds, there’s something for everyone. While nearby preserves may offer more tranquility, nothing beats Arthur Janura for family-friendly and accessible nature.
Enjoying Arthur Janura
Arthur Janura Forest Preserve is ideal for families and people seeking outdoor exercise. Twenty-one miles of paved and unpaved trails entreat visitors to rollerblade, horseback ride, bike and hike across the hilly terrain. Sloping mowed fields offer ideal kite-flying spaces that double as serene picnic spots, while picturesque picnic groves offer more structure and shelter.
The main preserve entrance, on Sutton Road south of Shoe Factory Road, is marked with a sign announcing Carl Hansen Woods. Find trail information here, along with an expansive view of actively managed prairie areas to the west. The meandering parking lot leads to several picnic areas, a large picnic shelter, sloping mowed hills and access to both paved and unpaved trails.
An 8.9-mile paved trail loops around the entire eastern portion of the preserve, from Sutton Road in the west to Barrington Road in the east. This well-marked multi-use trail allows for easy biking, rollerblading or jogging through wooded and open grassland settings.
Unpaved trails, mostly in the western portion of the preserve, offer shorter but more secluded hikes through prairies and woodlands, with opportunities for spotting prairie plants and birds. Most of these trailheads originate at the main parking lot.
Parking lots throughout the preserve offer access to hiking, biking and cross-country skiing trails. An equestrian parking area at the preserve’s southwest corner connects directly to an 11-mile network of unpaved trails beginning in Schaumburg Road Grasslands, an area of hundreds of acres being restored to prairie and oak-hickory woodlands. Bode Lake, to the southeast, is managed for hook-and-line fishing and is a popular place for fishing and picnicking along the shore. To the northeast, the grove by Barrington Road Pond is a popular picnic spot, and just around the corner families can watch members of the Academy of Model Aeronautics fly their model airplanes.
Nature at Arthur Janura
Amid the hustle and bustle of popular Arthur Janura Forest Preserve, beautiful restored prairies, wetlands and 300-year-old oak trees remind visitors that this is no manicured city park. This preserve provides thousands of acres of habitat for plants and animals, including the nine-acre, state-dedicated Shoe Factory Road Prairie Nature Preserve, a rare gravel hill prairie in the northwest corner of the preserve along Shoe Factory Road. Here, graceful yet hardy plants adapted to dry conditions look out over the vast expanse of the preserve.
Arthur Janura is rich with remnant woodlands and prairie. Since 1989, the Poplar Creek Prairie Stewards have transformed agricultural fields and farm homesteads into healthy native ecosystems, ranging from tallgrass prairies to wetlands. Their efforts have seen native plants, birds and animals thrive in these healthy and diverse settings. More than 300 acres are under management.
Visitors can find prairie plants here such as prairie blazing star, blue-eyed grass, coneflowers and wild false indigo. Grassland birds such as bobolinks and savanna sparrows breed in the large, uninterrupted spaces. Woodcocks display in spring. Harriers sail over the open fields. The woodlands harbor plants such as red trillium, wild hyacinth and shooting star, along with giant oak and hickory trees. These hard-to-miss grandfathers and grandmothers are powerful reminders of the area before European settlement.