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Forest Preserves of Cook County Encourages Residents, Visitors to #OptOutside

Nov 21, 2016

Celebrate the holidays with family and friends by exploring the great outdoors


This holiday season, the Forest Preserves of Cook County joins its partner REI in encouraging residents and visitors to enjoy quality time with family and friends by making memories in the great outdoors.


“This is a busy time for many people as they prepare for the holidays. We want to encourage residents and visitors to spend some time in nature, making memories with loved ones,” said Arnold Randall, general superintendent of the Forest Preserves. “For visitors young and old, there are numerous ways to explore the great outdoors in the Forest Preserves of Cook County, from hitting the trails to visiting a Nature Center. The opportunities to Opt Outside are endless.”


The Forest Preserves of Cook County encompasses nearly 70,000 acres of land, and includes various habitats such as forest woodlands, wetlands, prairie and savanna. Amenities within the Forest Preserves include more than 300 miles of marked trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing; numerous sledding hills and snowmobile areas; five campgrounds; six Nature Centers; more than 20 dedicated Illinois nature preserves; and more.


Below are ideas on different ways to #OptOutside within the Forest Preserves of Cook County. For more ideas and information on ways to enjoy time outdoors in the Forest Preserves of Cook County throughout the holiday weekend, download the Forest Preserves of Cook County’s online events brochure at Additionally, visitors can find information on making the most of the holiday weekend by booking a cabin at one of the Forest Preserves’ new campgrounds,



North Zone


  • Walk through sugar maple woods along the Des Plaines River on self-guided trails at River Trail Nature Center, 3120 Milwaukee Ave. in Northbrook.
  • Enjoy a walk along the North Branch Trail, which was recently extended 1.8 miles south from Caldwell and Devon Avenues to Forest Glen in Chicago.


Northwest Zone


  • After exploring educational exhibits and visiting the live animals at Crabtree Nature Center, 3 Stover Rd. in Barrington Hills, visitors can set out on a nearby self-guided trail among glacier-formed landscapes to see native wildlife and plants.
  • Head to the east side of Busse Woods/Ned Brown Preserve to watch and listen to a small elk herd, which was established in 1925. The elk enclosure is on the west side of Arlington Heights Road, just north of Higgins.


Central Zone



South Zone



Southwest Zone


  • Visit exhibits on geology, history and habitat management from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, 12545 W. 111th in Lemont. Visitors can also help remove invasive shrubs to help native plants from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. while at the Nature Center.
  • Enjoy a 1.7-mile walk at Oak Forest Heritage Preserve and learn about this site’s historic past through a series of interpretive signs.
  • Connect with Palos Hills’ historic past at Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center, 9800 Willow Springs Rd. in Willow Springs. While there, visit with live native animals and more.




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