Over the millennia, the spring-fed stream that winds through the 80 acres of Black Partridge Woods carved a ravine into a broad, sloping bluff overlooking the Des Plaines River. Today, canopies of sugar maple, basswood and oak drop sharply from the highlands to the streambed below. This unique ravine landscape, together with the preserve’s location on a sleepy road in a corner of Lemont, makes Black Partridge Woods a rare treat.
Enjoying Black Partridge Woods
The steep, unpaved and unmarked trails of Black Partridge Woods offer visitors the opportunity to test their navigation and hiking skills, while the quaint stone bridge, picnic tables and rustic shelter provides a scenic view of the preserve for less active visitors. The picnic shelter and tables are just to the west of the lot over a small stone bridge.
Trails are unmarked and not immediately visible from the parking lot, but hiking up the slope on the north side of the lot will reveal them. Watch your step when hiking the trails, as tree roots and the natural terrain can make walking more challenging.
Nature at Black Partridge Woods
Black Partridge Woods boasts one of the earliest displays of spring wildflowers in the region. In late March and early April, thick-leaved skunk cabbages and bright yellow marsh marigolds push up in wet areas along the stream. Pink and lavender blooms of hepatica spread on the hills rising from the stream valley.
In mid- to late April, prairie trillium, trout lilies, wild ginger, waterleaf and wild geranium bloom on the slopes of the ravine. As April gives way to May, the pink and yellow of shooting stars and golden Alexanders add color to the open areas of the woodland.
Animals observed here include northern water snake, American toad, wood pewee and red-headed woodpecker. Early May is primetime for birdwatching, as migrating warblers and other songbirds stop to rest and feed in the preserve on their long flights north.
The high-quality waters of Black Partridge’s stream provide a home to many species of fish, amphibians and reptiles. One resident is the rare mottled sculpin, a fish that requires cool, highly oxygenated water. To protect this stream and its inhabitants, Black Partridge Woods was designated an Illinois Nature Preserve in 1965, the second site in Illinois to receive this distinction.