Cap Sauers Holding Nature Preserve


With 1,520 acres of wooded bluffs and ravines, Cap Sauers Holding is a true escape into nature.

At 1,520 acres, Cap Sauers Holding encompasses a broad swath of wooded bluffs and ravines, with 4.5 miles of hiking and biking trails for both nature lovers and active adults to enjoy. Spots within this expansive preserve hold the title for the farthest one can be from a road in Cook County. Hikers can wind their way into the preserve atop an esker—an ancient glacial riverbed—enjoying long views down into the woodlands below.


Enjoying Cap Sauers

Given its large size and diverse landscapes, there are a number of ways to experience Cap Sauers Holding. The yellow and green trail branches of the Sag Valley unpaved trail system are scenic options for jogging or bike riding, leading through grasslands, oak woodlands and wetland areas. Additional trails are accessible on the east side of 104th Avenue near Teason’s Woods or Horsetail Lake. Each of these locations has parking lots with maps to navigate nearby trails.


Nature lovers will enjoy complete immersion on the Esker Trail, which leads into the heart of this preserve. A small trailhead leads in through tall grasses, followed by a footpath that quickly moves up along the top of the esker, providing views into the wooded areas below. Deep in the woods, hikers can leave traffic noise behind and listen to birdsong and the wind moving through the trees.


At the top of the Esker Trail, the woodland canopy opens up to reveal the calm and tranquil Visitation Prairie. Here prescribed burns have allowed the native prairie grasses and forbs to maintain a foothold against encroaching brush. Hikers can reconnect to the main gravel trail system from here.



Nature at Cap Sauers

An esker is a ridge formed by a river that once ran in or on a glacier. The esker at Cap Sauers Holding is one of the best examples of this rare feature in Illinois. Walking along the Esker Trail is like following the bed of an ancient stream. The glaciers also left behind hills and depressions that have become marshes and wet meadows. Chorus frogs and spring peepers make their home here and in the small creeks that wind around these hills.


Birders visit Cap Sauers Holding to see uncommon pileated woodpeckers, eastern phoebes, summer tanagers, white-eyed vireos, Louisiana waterthrushes, hooded warblers, chipping sparrows, blue-winged warblers, ovenbirds and ruby-throated hummingbirds.

  • Location

  • Palos Park, Illinois

    SW Cook County

    1520 acres

    4.5 miles of trail

    4.5 miles unpaved, plus footpaths

    Best for

    Bike RidingHikingCross Country Skiing

    Top Three Tips

    1. The Esker Trail is a unique hike in Cook County. The trailhead is off Route 83, about ¼ mile west of 104th Avenue. Look for the gravel pull-off and restoration sign.
    2. Mountain biking is allowed on marked trails but not on the Esker Trail. No dogs are allowed in the this Illinois Nature Preserve.
    3. The yellow and green Sag Valley Trails that run through Cap Sauers Holding connect with other segments of the trail system that wind for 17 miles through this and surrounding preserves.


    Coming from the north, take I-55 to Exit 279A southbound on La Grange Road. Follow La Grange Road south for about 8 miles and turn west/right on Route 83. The entrance to the Esker Trail is accessible from a footpath on the south side of Route 83, about ¼ mile west of 104th Avenue. A sign explaining restoration efforts marks the entrance to this trail, and a gravel pull-off provides parking.

    A separate entrance farther west on Route 83 with a sign marked Cap Sauers Holding also leads into the preserve, though not to the Esker Trail. To access the multi-purpose trails on the east end of the preserve, park at Teason’s Woods on the southeast corner of Route 83 and 104th Avenue, or farther south on 104th Avenue at Horsetail Lake (just north of McCarthy Road).

Visit two of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County