Right along the Illinois-Indiana border, 241-acre Eggers Grove is a rich, wet woodland perfect for a picnic and games followed by a spring walk to see wildflowers and birds. Visitors can experience the changing landscape by following a natural-surface trail through the woods and alongside the marsh or by biking the Burnham Greenway, a paved trail along the woods’ western edge.
Enjoying Eggers Grove
A road winds south through Eggers Grove, providing access to the picnic groves, trail and parking. In the preserve’s northern half, picnic groves with shelters and mowed meadows provide space for large group picnics, games and sports. (Permits are required for groups of 25 or more.) The Eggers Grove Comfort Station, built in the 1930s to provide indoor bathrooms and a warming shelter for visitors, is being rehabilitated and is scheduled to reopen in 2013.
A 3/4-mile natural-surface footpath leads from the southernmost parking area, its entrance marked by a sign saying “Ancient Sand Dunes.” The unmarked trail is easy to follow through the woodland, which is dominated by oak, elm, basswood and cherry trees.
At the south end of the woods, the trail divides in two. Hikers can follow it farther south, out of the woodland into an open space adjoining Wolf Lake. Or follow the footpath left as it curves east and back north, tracing the edge of the preserve’s large marsh. This is an excellent place to spot wetland birds such as grebes, geese, ducks, marsh wrens and even nesting yellow-headed blackbirds in some years. Because of wetlands, the trail dead-ends and does not complete a loop back to the parking lot, so leave enough time to retrace your steps.
The Burnham Greenway runs along the western edge of Eggers Grove. Visitors can park at Eggers to access about ¾ of a mile of this paved trail for biking, running, walking and in-line skating. Beyond Eggers’ borders, the Greenway continues 1.3 miles north to E. 100th Street and almost a mile south to William W. Powers State Recreation Area and Wolf Lake.
Nature at Eggers Grove
The land where Eggers Grove now stands once lay under the waters of Lake Michigan’s larger ancestor, Lake Chicago. As the water retreated, it left behind sand ridges. Between the ridges, long wetlands formed. Today, Eggers is a unique habitat, combining dry, wooded ridges where spring wildflowers thrive with long, narrow wetlands filled with sedges, marsh grasses, emergent forbs and waterfowl. The large marsh to the southeast
is one of the few remaining local wetlands where Virginia rails nest. Other bird species include gray catbirds, yellow warblers, song sparrows, eastern kingbirds and red-eyed vireos. The varied woodland and wetland landscape attracts spring and fall migrations of waterfowl and songbirds. Ongoing restoration work helps maintain this ecologically significant area.
The Forest Preserve District is currently working with the Field Museum to restore the water flow of the big marsh and restore conditions that many wetland birds rely on for nesting.