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See the Aqueducts at Dan Ryan Woods


One of the few forest preserves within city limits on the south side of Chicago, Dan Ryan Woods sits atop Blue Island, an ancient geological feature and one of the highest points in the city. Originally purchased in 1937, this preserve has grown into a fine place for a peaceful stroll, bike ride, picnic or birding adventure.


In the south section of Dan Ryan, a series of stone aqueducts wind peacefully downhill through the site’s oak woodlands. Primarily built as drainage structures and erosion control features, they were constructed from limestone flagstone, adding a unique aesthetic feature to the site.  Even today, when rain falls the channels fill with water from the surrounding area.  The water travels through the aqueducts to the lower eastern area of the preserve where it pools and percolates back into the ground.


To find the aqueducts, walk north into the woods from the parking lot at 89th and Western. A second aqueduct system is located north of 87th street, running alongside the stairs from the top of the hill to the recently renovated historic pavilion.


Along the east edge of Dan Ryan Woods, the Major Taylor Trail provides a scenic route for bikers. The trail continues six miles south, crossing the Calumet River and connecting to Whistler Woods. The District actively manages Dan Ryan’s wetlands and oak woodlands. Volunteers can help with this effort through Friends of the Forest Preserves. Look up workdays here.

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