Busse Woods

Four family members on the edge of a lake at Busse Woods.

The 3,558-acre Ned Brown Preserve—popularly known as Busse Woods—is one of the largest and most diverse locations in the Forest Preserves. The site includes ancient upland forests, one of the largest fishing and boating waters in Cook County, nearly 13 miles of paved trail, an elk pasture and much more—making it one of the best-used natural areas in Illinois.

On this page:


Locations & Things to Do

Busse Woods includes multiple locations:


Busse Lake Boating Center

Entrance

E Higgins Rd/Rte 72, east of I-290/Hwy 53
Cook County, IL 60007
(near Elk Grove Village)

Phone

224-415-6554

Picnic Groves

17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 (view picnic grove PDF map of Busse Lake Boating Center)

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to SunsetBoat Rental: 6am - 7:30pmRentals generally available early April to late October. Call ahead to confirm.

Closures & Alerts


Ned Brown Meadow

Entrance

Golf Rd, east of I-290/Hwy 53
Cook County, IL 60007
(near Elk Grove Village)

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts


Busse Forest Elk Pasture

Entrance

N Arlington Heights Rd, north of E Higgins Rd
Cook County, IL 60007
(near Elk Grove Village)

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts


Busse Forest Main Dam

Entrance

S Arlington Heights Rd, south of Landmeier Rd
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts


Busse Forest-North

Entrance

E Higgins Rd/Rte 72, west of N Arlington Heights Rd
Cook County, IL 60007
(near Elk Grove Village)

Things to Do & Amenities

  1. Indoor bathroom open April 1 to October 31 depending on weather conditions.

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts


Busse Forest-South

Entrance

E Higgins Rd/Rte 72, west of N Arlington Heights Rd
Cook County, IL 60007
(near Elk Grove Village)

Picnic Groves

5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 (view picnic grove PDF map of Busse Forest-South)

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts


Busse Forest-Central

Entrance

E Higgins Rd/Rte 72, west of N Arlington Heights Rd
Cook County, IL 60007
(near Elk Grove Village)

Things to Do & Amenities

  1. Indoor bathroom open April 1 to October 31 depending on weather conditions.

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts


Busse Forest-West

Entrance

E Higgins Rd/Rte 72, east of I-290/Hwy 53
Cook County, IL 60007
(near Elk Grove Village)

Things to Do & Amenities

  1. Indoor bathroom open April 1 to October 31 depending on weather conditions.

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts


Busse Lake Beisner Road Access

Entrance

Beisner Rd, north of Biesterfield Rd
Cook County, IL 60007
(near Elk Grove Village)

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts


Woodland Meadow

Entrance

Rohlwing Rd, north of Biesterfield Rd
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts


Busse Forest Nature Preserve

Things to Do & Amenities

  1. Service dogs are allowed at most public locations. View accessibility policies.
Illinois Nature Preserve: This land is designated as one of the highest quality natural areas in the state by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission. This status includes increased levels of legal protection and management. Learn more on the Illinois Nature Preserves Page.

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts


a person riding a bike on the paved trail at Busse Woods

Busse Woods Trails

Large paved loop circling Busse Reservoir with shorter trail segments fanning out from the loop.

Surface

Paved

Estimated Total Length

12.9 miles

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts

*Please be a courteous trail user: Follow posted signs and our trail rules and etiquette.

Trail Access

Access the Busse Forest Trails at any of these locations. Check out the trail maps listed above to find on-street or bikeway access points.


Busse Lake Boating Center
E Higgins Rd/Rte 72, east of I-290/Hwy 53
(near Elk Grove Village)
224-415-6554

Busse Forest Elk Pasture
N Arlington Heights Rd, north of E Higgins Rd
(near Elk Grove Village)

Ned Brown Meadow
(part of Busse Woods)
Golf Rd, east of I-290/Hwy 53
Cook County, IL 60007 (view web map of Ned Brown Meadow)
(near Elk Grove Village)

Busse Forest Main Dam
S Arlington Heights Rd, south of Landmeier Rd
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007 (view web map of Busse Forest Main Dam)

Busse Forest-South
E Higgins Rd/Rte 72, west of N Arlington Heights Rd
Cook County, IL 60007 (view web map of Busse Forest-South)
(near Elk Grove Village)

Busse Forest-Central
E Higgins Rd/Rte 72, west of N Arlington Heights Rd
Cook County, IL 60007 (view web map of Busse Forest-Central)
(near Elk Grove Village)

Busse Forest-West
E Higgins Rd/Rte 72, east of I-290/Hwy 53
Cook County, IL 60007 (view web map of Busse Forest-West)
(near Elk Grove Village)

Busse Lake Beisner Road Access
Beisner Rd, north of Biesterfield Rd
(near Elk Grove Village)

Woodland Meadow
(part of Busse Woods)
Rohlwing Rd, north of Biesterfield Rd
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007 (view web map of Woodland Meadow)

Busse Lake Boating Center
Busse Lake Boating Center provides boat rentals, food, drinks and everything you need to go fishing.

Boat Rental

The rental season is weather dependent, but generally lasts from early April through late October. Boats are available for rental from 6 am to 7:30 pm (hours may be restricted in colder months). Please call ahead to confirm rentals are open.

Busse Lake Boating Center
E Higgins Rd/Rte 72, east of I-290/Hwy 53
(near Elk Grove Village)
224-415-6554

Busse Lake Rental Rates
WatercraftRate
Row Boat (Includes Oars)$20/hr
Single Kayak$20/hr
Tandem Kayak$25/hr
Canoe$20/hr
Boat w/ Electric Motor (2 hr minimum)$25/hr
Paddle Boat$20/hr

Discounts: Veterans, students and seniors, with proper identification, may qualify for a reduced rate of 10% off published rental fees.

Refreshments & fishing supplies: Food, beverages and fishing supplies (licenses, bait and equipment) may be available for purchase. Guided tours and lessons may be available during certain times. Call ahead to confirm availability and pricing.

Regulations: Must be 21 or older with valid driver’s license to rent boat and motor (ID card or traffic ticket not acceptable). Four people per boat, two people per canoe (including small children and babies). Only one person can row the boat. No pets. No glass bottles.


Boat Launches

Busse Lake Boating Center features two trailered boat launches for canoes, kayaks, rowboats, sailboats and boats with electric trolling motors.


Busse Lake Boating Center
E Higgins Rd/Rte 72, east of I-290/Hwy 53
(near Elk Grove Village)
224-415-6554

Two people fishing at Busse Reservoir
Fishing is popular at the 457-acre Busse Reservoir.

Fishing at Busse Reservoir

At 457 acres, Busse Reservoir is one of the largest fishing and boating waters in Cook County. The chain of several connected pools was created in 1978 when natural waterways were dammed and the area was dug out.

Six fishing walls are available at portions of the over 20 miles of shoreline. Four of these fishing walls have wheelchair ramps to the parking areas. Ice fishing is allowed everywhere except the North Pool (north of Higgins Rd).


Fishing Access

Busse Lake Boating Center
E Higgins Rd/Rte 72, east of I-290/Hwy 53
(near Elk Grove Village)
224-415-6554

*Boat rentals, bait and other fishing supplies available. Features two trailered boat launches for canoes, kayaks, rowboats, sailboats and boats with electric trolling motors.


Busse Lake Beisner Road Access
Beisner Rd, north of Biesterfield Rd
(near Elk Grove Village)

*Features two accessible fishing walls


Busse Forest Main Dam
S Arlington Heights Rd, south of Landmeier Rd
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007 (view web map of Busse Forest Main Dam)

*Features one accessible fishing wall


Busse Forest-South
E Higgins Rd/Rte 72, west of N Arlington Heights Rd
Cook County, IL 60007 (view web map of Busse Forest-South)
(near Elk Grove Village)

Busse Forest-West
E Higgins Rd/Rte 72, east of I-290/Hwy 53
Cook County, IL 60007 (view web map of Busse Forest-West)
(near Elk Grove Village)

*Features one accessible fishing wall. No ice fishing allowed at this location.


Dutchman's breeches, a spring ephemeral, at Busse Woods.
Dutchman’s breeches, a spring ephemeral, at Busse Woods. Photo by Kris DaPra.

Nature at Busse

A wide variety of bird species live in or visit Busse Woods. Egrets, herons and terns can be spotted in trees and spits around the reservoir and Salt Creek, while grassland birds such as savannah and Henslow’s sparrows and bobolinks use the open meadows during the summer.

Busse Forest Nature Preserve is one of the richest and most diverse natural areas in the Cook County forest preserves. Flatwoods, slightly depressed areas with poorly draining soils, are a unique feature of this region. They support red maple, swamp white oak and black ash, as well as sensitive fern, hop sedge and blue flag iris.

Busse’s upland forest is an ancient remnant, full of tall red oaks and hickories, maple, ash, basswood, elm and very large ironwoods. Many of the trees here date back to before European settlement. The trees shelter wildflowers such as bloodroot, great white trillium and woodland phlox. In spring and fall, birders can spot attractive migrants such as black-throated blue warblers. The dense aquatic vegetation of Busse’s marshes supports shorebirds, mink and muskrat.

The 489-acre Busse Forest Nature Preserve’s unusual combination of flatwoods, upland forests, and marshes have earned it National Natural Landmark status.


two elk from the herd at Busse Woods
Two elk from the herd at Busse Woods.

Elk Pasture

Busse Forest Elk Pasture
N Arlington Heights Rd, north of E Higgins Rd
(near Elk Grove Village)

Since 1925, a small elk herd has inhabited a 17-acre enclosed pasture in Busse Woods. Originally, nine cows and one bull were delivered by train from Yellowstone National Park. The size of the herd has fluctuated over time and every three to four years new males are introduced to maintain genetic diversity.

Each year, a veterinary team from the University of Illinois, in conjunction with Forest Preserves wildlife staff, conducts health work-ups on the herd.


volunteers at Busse Woods
Volunteers at Busse Woods. Photo by Kris DaPra.

Volunteer Opportunities

Busse Woods is one of the richest and most diverse natural areas in the Forest Preserves. The Friends of Busse Woods volunteers have been working since 2008 to improve biodiversity and restore habitat. All year long, in all types of weather, this hearty and enthusiastic group meets twice monthly to give back to the environment and enjoy good company.