Caldwell Preserves Vision Plan & Improvements

The Caldwell Woods Warming Shelter building
The Caldwell Woods Warming Shelter will be restored as a "wellness and welcome center."

The Forest Preserves is developing a 10-year vision plan for the Caldwell Preserves—Caldwell Woods, Bunker Hill, Sydney Yates Flatwoods and Edgebrook Woods—that will help guide improvements to existing buildings and amenities, as well as longer-term plans for investing in visitor amenities, promoting restoration efforts, and cultivating local relationships. This plan is intended to be a flexible document that can incorporate new information and track completed projects.

On this page:

Provide Feedback on the Caldwell Preserves

Give feedback on planned improvements to the Caldwell Preserves and help shape our 10-year Vision Plan for these forest preserves.
Participate in a public open house on August 5, 2021 from 4:30 to 7:30 pm at the Caldwell Warming Shelter in conjunction with a native plant sale.  

Please share your thoughts by filling out our Caldwell Woods Improvements survey. You may also send feedback to

Planned Improvements

Forest Preserve staff gathered preliminary feedback about the Caldwell Preserves through two virtual open houses held in summer 2021. These outreach efforts provided fresh perspective to build on a focus group meeting that was held in 2015 with representatives from volunteer ecological stewardship groups and the Village of Niles.  Exhibits showing plans for immediate improvements—funded in spring 2021 through a state Park and Recreation Capital (PARC) grant, program—are posted below.

The PARC grant award from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources would fund roughly 75% of the estimated cost to renovate the Caldwell Woods Warming Shelter as a “wellness and welcome center.” The reimagined building would host indoor recreation activities and provide information on recreation and nature-based programs at the Caldwell Preserves, including yoga, pilates, meditation, cultural arts and other wellness-related classes. It would also serve as a starting point for outdoor nature hikes, bird watching, Trail Watch training and other programs.

The PARC grant project includes accessibility improvements to parking areas and paths serving the warming shelter and Whealan Pool Aquatic Center, where additional site parking is available. It would also fund a new Caldwell Preserves information kiosk to increase awareness of the public indoor and outdoor recreation amenities and programs.

Other ideas for additional site improvements beyond those funded by the PARC grant include: Repair of the concrete sledding hill stairs, new outdoor seating, and improvements to an informal hiking path from the Whealan Pool parking lot to a scenic spot on the Chicago River.

A second phase of community outreach will focus on proposed renovations to Edgebrook Golf Course will begin in fall 2021 as part of a larger study of three forest preserve golf courses.

10-Year Vision Plan

A complete draft of the Caldwell Preserves 10-Year Vision Plan will be posted here in September 2021, after additional public comments and survey responses are reviewed.

These key strategies will guide the plan:

Invest in visitor amenities

  • Install new information and wayfinding signs 
  • Create a year-round Visitor Center
  • Explore feasibility of fundraising for capital improvements

Promote restoration efforts

  • Identify and complete visitor-focused landscape restoration projects
  • Continue managing trails
  • Support expanded volunteer work 
  • Identify communication opportunities for volunteers to share work with trail users and picnickers

Cultivate local relationships