Public can enjoy miles of trails for walking, biking, equestrian use and more
January 3, 2023 — The Forest Preserves of Cook County has fully opened Horizon Farm preserve in Barrington Hills for public use, including the introduction of several official trails available for pedestrian, biking and equestrian use. In 2023, the Forest Preserves will continue to gather input and present a long-term comprehensive plan for the nearly 400-acre site.
The northernmost section of Horizon Farm, approximately 40 percent of the property, has been open to visitors since November 2021. Since gaining full possession of Horizon Farm in 2019, the Forest Preserves has created new trails and addressed maintenance and safety issues for public use, including demolition of more than 20 buildings that were beyond their useful life—in some cases in deep disrepair.
“Every decade for more than 100 years, the Forest Preserves of Cook County has added to its holdings of public lands that are a home for native plants and wildlife and a resource for the people of Cook County. We are pleased to announce that now, the public can fully explore Horizon Farm. Our long-term plans for the site are still a work in progress, but now visitors can go further and do more,” said Arnold Randall, General Superintendent of the Forest Preserves of Cook County
A former equestrian estate, the Horizon Farm property is the largest purchase of land by the Forest Preserves since 1968. The site features meadows, wetlands and small streams, as well as open habitat for grassland birds. As of December 30, 2022, Horizon Farm is available sunrise to sunset for activities like hiking, birdwatching, photography, horseback riding and cross-country skiing.
In addition to opening the southern section of the property, the December 30 opening includes a new 1.2-mile loop trail and a spur connection to the Riding Club of Barrington Hills trail to the west. With the introduction of official Forest Preserves trails, equestrian use is now allowed in Horizon Farm. Some segments of the site will occasionally be closed for further trail improvements in 2023. The buildings that currently remain on the property include a garage for Forest Preserves maintenance needs, a barn at the main parking lot and a small corn crib that was once used as an office by a previous owner.
The Forest Preserves process to create a master plan for Horizon Farm will reconvene with key stakeholders in early 2023 with the goal of completing a draft for presentation to the public in the summer of 2023. The master plan will include plans for the remaining facilities on the site and a completed trail system, as well as strategies for investment in visitor amenities, promotion of ecological restoration efforts, and how to expand and deepen partnerships with local stakeholders.
About the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Don’t you sometimes just want to escape? Explore the natural beauty of Cook County for an hour, a day or even a night. When you’re surrounded by 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful there’s no better place to feel free.