Robinson Woods

With wooded trails, river views and remnant prairie patches, Robinson Woods is best known for its historic burial ground.

About half of 265-acre Robinson Woods once belonged to Alexander Robinson, the chief of several combined American Indian tribes in this area in the early 1800s. The Robinson family burial ground is located here, as well as wooded trails, river views and remnant prairie patches for nature lovers to explore.

 

Enjoying Robinson Woods

 

Robinson Woods offers access to several activities spread across the preserve. Robinson Woods has a parking lot off Lawrence Avenue, on the south side of the road. Picnic tables and shelters are near the parking area, as is access to the Des Plaines River Trail. This unpaved and well-maintained dirt trail loosely follows the bends of the Des Plaines River. It is popular with joggers, cyclists and dog walkers and connects the forest preserves lining the Des Plaines River. From this Robinson Woods parking lot, visitors can follow the Des Plaines River Trail south into Schiller Woods or north into the rest of Robinson Woods and Catherine Chevalier Woods. The trail crosses Lawrence Avenue via an underpass and, farther north, I-90 via an overpass.

 

To visit the site of the Robinson family homestead and burial grounds, signified by historical markers, use the pullout on East River Road, just north of Lawrence Avenue. From this small parking area, an unmarked footpath leads to some old fencing and a lane, vestiges of the last Robinson family home. Ghost hunters claim the site is haunted. Visitors can follow the old lane through forested areas or take an unpaved trail. Follow one west to join up with the Des Plaines Trail.

 

West of the Des Plaines River off Des Plaines River Road, between Lawrence and the Expo Center, River Bend Family Picnic Area offers open, mowed fields that are popular for games. The area west of the river is much smaller than that to the east, but it is still rich with wildlife in some remnant prairie areas.

 

Nature at Robinson Woods

Robinson Woods is mostly wooded, with some scattered remnant prairies. Because of its location along the Des Plaines River, the preserve is a popular resting spot for migrating birds, notably spring warblers, who use the river as a corridor. The river adds interest to the topography, as high ground and bluffs open up to floodplains and dramatic views. In addition to migrating birds, beaver, turtles and mallards enjoy the many bends in the river.

In the remnant prairie patches, white wild indigo, nodding onion, goldenrods and blazing star lure monarchs and other butterflies. While these prairie patches are small, they harbor a wealth of native plants and insects and have notably expanded with habitat restoration work and prescribed burns in recent years. Patches of native prairie soil have resisted buckthorn incursion over the years; the properties of these native soils are being investigated by university researchers as part of Chicago Wilderness’ 100 Sites for 100 Years project.

  • location

  • Chicago, Illinois

    NW Cook County


    265 acres


    Best for

    Picnic GroveHikingBiking


    Top Three Tips

    1. Visit the Robinson family burial ground for a peek into the history of this forest preserve.
    2. Look for the expanding prairie remnants, the results of prescribed burns and the removal of invasive brush.
    3. One can get a lost at Robinson without much difficulty. If you get turned around, head in one direction until you hit a road you can use to orient yourself.


    Directions

    From I-90, take the exit for Des Plaines River Road, heading south. Enter River Bend Family Picnic Area on the east side of the road, just north of Lawrence, or the Robinson Homestead Family Picnic Area just south of Lawrence. For the main entrance to Robinson Woods, turn east/left on Lawrence Avenue; the parking area is on the south side of the street. To access the Robinson family burial grounds, continue east on Lawrence and turn north/left on East River Road. The small pull out is on the west side of the road.

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