Hike the Preserves this Summer

This summer, hit the trails in the Forest Preserves of Cook County to view summer wildflowers and wildlife, as well as native and migrating birds. Looking for recommended hikes? Check out the list below for a different featured hike in each of the Forest Preserves’ five zones.


To explore more hiking opportunities, check out the Forest Preserves’ interactive web map at


Northwest Zone:  Carl R. Hansen Woods

Poplar Creek Trail

Rte 59, south of Shoe Factory Rd, Hoffman Estates


Follow a 2.7-mile loop trail to see diverse landscapes full of summer wildflowers and prairie grasses. This site’s habitats support a variety of butterflies, including the viceroy and tiger swallowtail.


North Zone: River Trail Nature Center

3120 Milwaukee Ave, Northbrook


Enjoy a peaceful walk through River Trail’s sugar maple forest along a 1.5-mile trail. Hikers may spot a variety of wildlife including wood ducks, Cooper’s hawks, American toads and Eastern garter snakes.


Central Zone: Chicago Portage National Historic Site

S Harlem Ave, south of 47th St, Lyons


Explore one of only two designated National Historic Sites in Illinois. The site features a statue of French explorer Louis Joliet and missionary Father Jacques Marquette’s expedition exploring the Mississippi River, which commemorates the historic Native American portage linking the Chicago River to the Des Plaines River.


Southwest Zone: Oak Forest Heritage Preserve

Fieldcrest Dr, southwest of Crawford, Oak Forest


While traversing Oak Forest Heritage Preserve’s 1.7-mile loop trail, hikers can learn the many ways the site was used throughout history.


South Zone: Plum Creek Meadow

Burnham Ave, north of 223rd St, Chicago Heights


Hikers should bring a pair of binoculars to enjoy this 1.8-mile unpaved loop trail to try spotting a variety of birds including Henslow’s or grasshopper sparrows, dickcissels and yellow-breasted chats.

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