River Trail Nature Center

River Trail Nature Center main entrance

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For 10,000 years, since the last glaciers melted away, the Des Plaines River Valley has been home and highway for plants, animals and people. Only a few hundred years ago American Indians paddled their canoes along the river and hunted bear, deer and elk along its banks, while trappers and fur traders came searching for beaver in its waters. A fragment of that world has been preserved in our Cook County forest preserves.   River Trail Nature Center tells the story of native plants and animals that remain in the urban environment. Here you may walk through sugar maple woods along the river on self-guiding trails, learn of the past and present in the exhibit building, and visit a few of our native animals.

Younger children may enjoy River Trail’s nature discovery area, where kids can climb in an eagle nest, crawl in a fox den, create their own puppet shows, and more.


Programs and special events are held throughout the year. Trail maps and interpretive publications are available at the front desk, and naturalists will answer your questions.








3120 Milwaukee Ave
Northbrook, IL 60062


West side of Milwaukee Ave, 3/4 mile southeast of River Rd







Hours of Operation


November – February

Building: 9 am – 3:30 pm, closed Fridays
Trails: 8 am – 3:30 pm
Grounds: 8 am – 4 pm


March – May

Building: 9 am – 4:30 pm, closed Fridays
Trails: 8 am – 4:30 pm
Grounds: 8 am – 5 pm


June – August

Building: 9 am – 4:30 pm, closed Mondays
Grounds: 8 am – 5 pm


NEW! Summer Evening Hours: Building and grounds open Thursdays until 8pm.


September – October

Building: 9 am – 4:30 pm, closed Fridays
Trails: 8 am – 4:30 pm
Grounds: 8 am – 5 pm


NOTE: Building and grounds closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day

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