Deer Grove

The District’s very first preserve—acquired in 1916—Deer Grove is one of the premier destinations for everything from botanizing to cross-country skiing.

Situated in northwestern Cook County, Deer Grove was the first preserve acquired by the Forest Pre­serve District, beginning with 500 acres in 1916. With its long, rich history and extensive trails, the 1,800-acre Deer Grove has attracted generations of visitors, from serious botanists to weekend joggers. Deer Grove’s significant and varied acreage makes it a premier destination for a suite of activities, from hiking and birdwatching to cross-country skiing and horseback riding.


Enjoying Deer Grove


Deer Grove’s rolling upland forest is interspersed with wooded ravines and wetlands. Picturesque creeks meander through this tract, draining upland woods dominated by oak and hickory. Miles of trails make it easy for outdoor enthusiasts to access the preserve’s diverse habitats. Runners, cross-country skiers and cyclists can cruise the four miles of paved trail, while ten miles of unpaved trails appeal to hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. The vast, looping trail system creates ample space for extended runs or hikes and is heavily used year round.


Deer Grove West is primarily wooded, while Deer Grove East is more open, with recently restored wetlands and prairie, including 23 wetlands restored by disabling drain tiles that drained former farm fields at the isite.


Because of its hills and turns, Deer Grove has become popular with cyclists. The Deer Grove Trail links with the Palatine Trail at Quentin and Dundee Roads, offering bicycling opportunities beyond the preserve boundaries. Cyclists can access the trail at both Deer Grove West and Deer Grove East parking lots. Unfortunately, the ravine areas of Deer Grove have been severely damaged by illicit off-trail use, primarily by mountain bikers. To preserve natural vegetation and stop soil erosion, bicyclists and equestrians are asked to use only marked, designated trails. Use of unauthorized trails for these purposes is subject to ticketing and a fine.


Deer Grove is also home to a sledding hill, located near the main Deer Grove parking lots off Quentin Road. Also near these parking lots is the five-acre Deer Grove Lake, which can be fished all year. A model airplane flying field at Deer Grove East is dedicated to the exploration of flight.


Nature at Deer Grove


Deer Grove is home to a variety of habitats, some of which are protected within a state-designated nature preserve. Throughout the preserve, numerous small wetlands attract wildlife such as turtles, frogs and salamanders, including several rare species. Large swaths of wetlands, upland forest, woodland, savanna and prairie are maintained and restored with the help of Friends of Deer Grove East and Deer Grove Natural Areas Volunteers.


In the spring, look for vernal ponds (temporary springtime wetlands), which support many local amphibians, including blue-spotted salamanders and chorus frogs. Spring is an ideal time to see woodland wildflowers such as Dutchman’s breeches and wood anemone. The spring woodland offers cover and food for migrating birds. Listen for veeries and hooded warblers in the deep woods and savannah sparrows along the edge. Summer hikers can spot jewelweed along the ravines and beneath the trees, which is a favorite plant for hummingbirds.


Anglers can find largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish and bullhead in Deer Grove Lake.


Please enjoy the preserve from the existing trail system as much as possible, and avoid walking off trail when conditions are muddy.  The best way to explore Deer Grove off trail is to join one or more volunteer workdays held in both Deer Grove East and West. You will get to know Deer Grove up-close and personal while restoring the land!

  • Location

  • Palatine, Illinois

    NW Cook County

    1,800 acres

    Best for

    Ecological Management SiteHikingBikingHorseback riding SleddingCross Country SkiingSheltersGroup CampgroundModel Airplane FieldfishingBirding

    Top Three Tips

    1. To access the center of the preserve (with sledding hill and lake), enter off of Quentin road.
    2. Shelters, located near most of the parking areas, are great places for picnics, or can be rented for larger gatherings.
    3. Deer Grove is so large that visitors may need a few trips to get a true feel for the land. Try starting each visit from a new parking lot.


    From I-90, head north on Route 53 until it ends at Lake Cook Road (also named East County Line Road). Travel west on Lake Cook Road for 2.5 miles. Turn south onto Quentin Road, which bisects the preserve. The main entrance will be on your right, marked by a large sign. Park in one of the lots off of Quentin Road, or continue south to Dundee Road and travel east or west for additional parking. Horse trailers can park at the Deer Grove West lot.

    Volunteer in the Forest Preserves

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