« All News

Hike the Preserves this Summer

two people hiking on the Palos Trail System

This summer, hit the trails in the Forest Preserves of Cook County to view summer wildflowers and wildlife, as well as native and migrating birds. Looking for recommended hikes? Check out the list below for a different featured hike in each of the Forest Preserves’ five zones.

To explore more hiking opportunities, check out the Forest Preserves interactive web map.

Northwest Zone: Carl R. Hansen Woods

Carl R. Hansen Woods
(part of Arthur L. Janura Preserve)
Sutton Rd/Rte 59, south of Shoe Factory Rd
Cook County, IL 60192 (view web map of Carl R. Hansen Woods)
(near Schaumburg)

Follow a 2.7-mile Borwn Unpaved Loop to see diverse landscapes full of summer wildflowers and prairie grasses. This site’s habitats support a variety of butterflies, including the viceroy and tiger swallowtail.

North Zone: River Trail Nature Center

River Trail Nature Center
3120 Milwaukee Ave

Enjoy a peaceful walk through River Trail’s sugar maple forest along a 1.7-miles of walking trails. Hikers may spot a variety of wildlife including wood ducks, Cooper’s hawks, American toads and Eastern garter snakes.

Central Zone: Chicago Portage National Historic Site

Explore one of only two designated National Historic Sites in Illinois on 1-mile Black Unpaved Loop. The site features a statue of French explorer Louis Joliet and missionary Father Jacques Marquette’s expedition exploring the Mississippi River, which commemorates the historic Native American portage linking the Chicago River to the Des Plaines River.

Southwest Zone: Oak Forest Heritage Preserve

Oak Forest Heritage Preserve-East
Fieldcrest Dr, southwest of Crawford Ave

While traversing Oak Forest Heritage Preserve’s 1.7-mile Brown Paved Loop, hikers can learn the many ways the site was used throughout history.

South Zone: Plum Creek Meadow

Plum Creek Meadow
Burnham Ave, north of 223rd St
Cook County, IL 60411 (view web map of Plum Creek Meadow)
(near Chicago Heights)

Hikers should bring a pair of binoculars to enjoy the 1.8-mile Black Unpaved Loop to try spotting a variety of birds including Henslow’s or grasshopper sparrows, dickcissels and yellow-breasted chats.