Two hundred fifty-acre Harms Woods near Glenview tells a tale of two preserves, with the Chicago River as a dividing line. East of the river is an exercise-lover’s dream, as hikers, dog-walkers, cyclists, in-line skaters and cross-country skiers take advantage of the shaded North Branch Trail. The west side of the river is a tribute to more than three decades of active habitat restoration. Today, visitors can stroll the bridle trail to enjoy woodland wildflowers in all directions, especially in spring.
Enjoying Harms Woods
For picnickers and exercisers, Harms Woods is easy to access from three large, paved parking lots along Harms Road. Wooded areas shade some of the site’s picnic groves, while large open, mowed fields provide play areas near others. Picnicking groups of 25 or more require permits in the preserves.
The paved North Branch Trail runs about a mile through Harms, continuing five miles north to the Skokie Lagoons and seven miles south to the preserves along Devon Avenue.
Several unpaved trails also meander through the land east of the river. Hikers can spot many birds, such as woodpeckers and warblers, migrating along the river in spring and fall. One crushed gravel bridle trail goes east from Harms Woods North parking area and encircles adjoining Calvin R. Sutker Grove, also known as Harms Flatwoods.
To reach the woodland west of the river, head north on Harms Road from Old Orchard Road. A parking lot with a large sign for Glenview Woods is on the west side of the road. At the southwest edge of the picnic grove, cross the bridge and head south along the gravel bridle trail to explore the high-quality restored woodland.
Nearby, on the southeast corner of Harms and Golf, the Glen Grove Equestrian Center offers horseback riding lessons, seasonal camps and pony rides.
Nature at Harms Woods
Visitors to Harms Woods, particularly west of the river, will be treated to an incredibly varied spring woodland wildflower display, including wild geranium, trout lilies, blue cohosh and white trillium. Because habitat restoration efforts have removed much of the invasive brush at Harms, abundant wildflowers feed butterflies and birds from spring through fall. Chorus frogs call from small ponds. Visitors have seen great crested flycatchers, chestnut-sided warblers, and Cooper’s hawks. Wait by the river a while and you may spot a mink as it splashes in the water.
East of Harms Road, Harms Flatwoods is a unique, often very wet woodland. Because it can be somewhat more buggy than many preserves, it tends to attract more dedicated naturalists than casual hikers. From the northwest corner (at Harms and Old Orchard), visitors can walk a gravel loop trail to see uncommon ferns and other flatwoods specialties. This area has also benefitted from significant habitat restoration.