Spears Woods

A must-see for nature lovers, Spears Woods’ trails wind through open woods and prairie, revealing hidden wetlands.

Named after the farmer whose dairy once occupied the land, 477-acre Spears Woods Forest Preserve is a must-see for nature lovers. The unpaved trails wind through sun-dappled open woodlands and sweeping prairie, revealing hidden sloughs and wetlands. The wide and level trails allow visitors to walk at a leisurely pace while watching the scenery unfold.

 

 

Enjoying Spears Woods

To explore Spears Woods, hikers can combine the red trail, Country Lane and the yellow trail for an easy two-mile loop past restored prairies, oak woodlands and Boomerang Slough. Spears Woods’ trails are open to horseback riding, bicycling and cross-country skiing as well. A short connecting trail leads from the center of the grove on the west side of the parking lot to the main trails.

 

Visitors can start or finish a hike with a picnic at one of the tables in the shady grove by the parking lot.

 

 

Nature at Spears Woods

Forest Preserve staff and volunteers have worked hard to restore Spears Woods to ecological health. Visitors may notice evidence of fire, which was historically a part of this landscape. Staff conduct periodic prescribed burns to encourage the growth of native plant species. As a result of burning and invasive brush removal, habitat for native plants and animals has been greatly expanded, making way for bottlebrush grass, Joe Pye weed and white snakeroot to flourish.

 

From the parking lot, follow the red trail south toward the junction with the yellow and orange trails where the view opens to one of Spears Woods’ three prairies. In the summer, prairie grasses and wildflowers, including blazing star, mountain mint, ironweed and early goldenrod, turn these openings into a vibrant display of colors, especially the year after a prescribed burn. Diverse species of birds such as bluebirds, kingbirds and Baltimore orioles fly about looking for seeds, insects and other food.

 

Continuing west on the yellow trail, the shimmering Boomerang Slough comes into view. The open grasslands dotted with trees attract fine birds such as orchard orioles and redheaded woodpeckers. Or take the yellow trail south where it leads past Hogwash Slough and surrounding wetlands, accented by white oaks and great bulrush. Listen for frogs and look for waterfowl and the occasional muskrat. Visit the high-quality woodland in autumn to watch the oaks and plants below turn a rich array of reds, oranges and browns.

  • Location

  • Willow Springs, Illinois

    SW Cook County


    477 acres


    3.8 miles unpaved trails


    Best for

    BikingCross Country SkiingHikingHorseback riding Picnic GroveEcological Management Site

    Top Three Tips

    1. The trail from the Spears Woods parking lot leads to the Spears Woods red trail. Follow it south to the yellow trail to see Boomerang and Hogwash Sloughs.
    2. Dogs are welcome in many forest preserves and trails, but they must remain on a leash.
    3. Large picnic shelter areas can accommodate big groups. Groups of 25 or more must obtain a picnic permit.


    Directions to Spears Woods

    From I-55, exit at LaGrange Road (Route 45) southbound and drive for two miles. Access the Spears Woods parking lot from the southbound lanes of LaGrange between 87th and 95th streets (a divider separates the southbound and northbound lanes).

    From I-294, exit at 95th Street and head west toward Roberts Road. Head north for a mile, then turn west onto 87th Street. Turn south onto LaGrange Road/Route 45. The parking lot is on the right after about ½ mile.

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