Beaubien Woods

people fishing at Beaubien Woods celebration

Beaubien Woods, located on the south side of Chicago, is home to a mix of prairie, woodland and wetland habitats, with Flatfoot Lake as the centerpiece. With the lake, a boat launch, open grassy areas and picnic groves, visitors can enjoy numerous activities including fishing, kayaking, birding and more.

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Locations & Things to Do

Beaubien Woods

Entrance

W Doty Ave S, southeast of E 130th St & S Ellis Ave
Chicago, IL 60827

Things to Do & Amenities

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts


Beaubien Woods Boat Launch

Things to Do & Amenities

  1. Portable bathroom open May 1 to October 31 depending on weather conditions.

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts


Fishing at Flatfoot Lake

Flatfoot Lake at Beaubien Woods is a 19-acre former strip mine with a maximum depth of 15.4 feet. Features a barrier free fishing pier. Designated ice fishing lake.


Beaubien Woods
W Doty Ave S, southeast of E 130th St & S Ellis Ave
Chicago, IL 60827 (view web map of Beaubien Woods)

Boat Launch

A trailered boat launch provides access to the Little Calumet River for canoes, kayaks, rowboats, sailboats and boats with trolling motors.


Beaubien Woods Boat Launch
E 132nd St, east of S Greenwood Ave

prairie with oak trees in the background at Beaubien Woods
Photo by Joseph Mueller.

Nature Notes

Before European settlement, Beaubien Woods was a wet prairie and open savanna community. Early agriculture and grazing altered the soil and removed native vegetation. Railroad and expressway construction further damaged soils and cleared areas for use in construction staging.

Recent ecological restoration efforts by the Forest Preserves, The Field Museum and community volunteers have been successful in restoring some of the site’s original natural communities. Community volunteers, students and interns have cleared the prairies of invasive brush, collected and scattered native plant seed and removed weeds and litter. The Forest Preserves conducts prescribed burns at the site, helping to keep the prairies open and encourage native vegetation. Due to the ongoing restoration, the site contains nearly nine acres of high-quality wet prairie and five acres of oak savanna, with plants such as big and little bluestem, cordgrass, prairie dock, Riddell’s goldenrod and starry false Solomon’s seal.

Common birds in the area include gray catbird, yellow warbler, Baltimore oriole and indigo bunting. Along the Little Calumet River near the boat launch there are large numbers of gulls, and ducks such as mergansers and goldeneyes frequent the area’s open water in winter. An occasional bald eagle will fish from the river. During a quiet winter day, visitors might spot coyote tracks along the shoreline of Flatfoot Lake.


a person writing ecological monitoring observations on a clipboard outside at Beaubien Woods as part of the Calumet Is My Back Yard Program.
A student helps monitor plant life at Beaubien Woods as part of the Calumet Is My Back Yard (CIMBY) program. Photo by Laura Milkert/The Field Museum.

Volunteer Opportunities

Help restore this unique prairie and woodland ecosystem back to health. Trained leaders show you how to identify plants that don’t belong and demonstrate how to safely use hand tools to remove them. Depending on the season, workdays may also include native seed collection for dispersal in areas cleared of invasive species, hand pulling invasive grasses and flowers, as well as nature walks to enjoy the preserve.