River Trail Nature Center

River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook

River Trail Nature Center’s free exhibits, walking trails and onsite nature educators help tell the story of the plants, animals and natural landscapes formed by the Des Plaines River. Learn how to make maple syrup, meet an owl or join a guided hike at all-ages events each week—or just let the kids climb and create at indoor and outdoor play areas.

On this page:


Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Closures & Cancellations

Buildings, grounds, trails and bathrooms at Nature Centers are closed to the public until May 11.

All public Forest Preserves events are also cancelled until May 11.

Learn more about COVID-19 cancellations and closures.


one of the exhibit rooms inside River Trail Nature Center
One of the exhibit rooms inside River Trail Nature Center.

Location, Hours & Things to Do

River Trail Nature Center

Things to Do & Amenities

  1. Service dogs are allowed at most public locations. View accessibility policies.

Hours

Mar - Oct: 9am - 5pm, closed FridaysNov - Feb: 9am - 4pm, closed FridaysClosed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day

Closures & Alerts


hikers at River Trail Nature Center in fall

Trails

River Trail Nature Center Trails

Explore the River Trail Nature Center grounds on three walking trails or extend your walk on the Des Plaines Trail System.

Location: Northbrook

Surface

Unpaved

Estimated Total Length

1.7 miles

Things to Do

  1. Service dogs are allowed at most public locations. View accessibility policies.

Hours

Mar - Oct: 8 am - 5 pmNov - Feb: 8 am - 4 pmClosed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day

Closures & Alerts

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

Des Plaines Trail System

The unpaved Des Plaines Trail follows its namesake river through more than a dozen forest preserves, allowing visitors to enjoy casual strolls, full-day adventures and anything in between.

Location: Chicago, Des Plaines, Glenview, Melrose Park, Mount Prospect, Northbrook, Park Ridge, River Forest, Rosemont, Schiller Park & Wheeling

Surface

Paved & Unpaved

Estimated Total Length

28.4 miles

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts

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

Events & Programs

two volunteers cut buckthorn with loppers at River Trail Nature Center
Cancelled Sat, Apr 4 • 10 am

Restoration Workdays

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Cancelled Sat, Apr 4 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
a family exploring the trails at Crabtree Nature Center
Cancelled Sun, Apr 5 • 1:30 pm

Spring Stroll

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Cancelled Sun, Apr 5 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Cancelled Wed, Apr 8 • 10 am

Small Serendipity

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Cancelled Sat, Apr 11 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Cancelled Sun, Apr 12 • 11 am

Family Fun Drop In

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Cancelled Sun, Apr 12 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Cancelled Sat, Apr 18 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
a family exploring the trails at Crabtree Nature Center
Cancelled Sun, Apr 19 • 1:30 pm

Spring Stroll

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Cancelled Sun, Apr 19 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Cancelled Wed, Apr 22 • 10 am

Small Serendipity

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Cancelled Fri, Apr 24 • 7:30 pm

Night Hike

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Cancelled Sat, Apr 25 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
american bullfrogs on a rock at Crabtree Nature Center
Cancelled Sun, Apr 26 • 1:30 pm

Frog Frenzy

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Cancelled Sun, Apr 26 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
#BirdThePreserves logo
Cancelled Sat, May 2 • 10 am

Bird the Preserves

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Cancelled Sat, May 2 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Cancelled Sun, May 3 • 1:30 pm

Spring Stroll

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Cancelled Sun, May 3 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Cancelled Wed, May 6 • 10 am

Small Serendipity

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
two volunteers cut buckthorn with loppers at River Trail Nature Center
Cancelled Sat, May 9 • 10 am

Restoration Workdays

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Cancelled Sat, May 9 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
spring beauty wildflower
Cancelled Sun, May 10 • 1:30 pm

Mother’s Day Wildflower Walk

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Cancelled Sun, May 10 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Sat, May 16 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Sat, May 16 • 7:30 pm

Campfire Stories

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Sun, May 17 • 1:30 pm

Birds of Prey Series: Owls

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Sun, May 17 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Wed, May 20 • 10 am

Small Serendipity

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
All Events »

Field Trips & Classroom Visits

Field trips and classroom programs may be scheduled throughout the year at no cost. Contact any of our six educational centers for more information about field trips or classroom programs. All programs are subject to limits of available staff and space.

River Trail Nature Center
3120 Milwaukee Ave
847-824-8360

sugar maples at River Trail Nature Center in fall
The sugar maples around River Trail Nature Center showing off their color in the fall.

Nature Notes

Floodplain forest, backwater wetlands, oak-hickory woodland, and an ancient remnant of sugar maple-basswood forest make River Trail a mix of habitats for an amazing variety of birds, insects, plants and wildlife.

Visitors can experience this abundance of nature through 1.5 miles of walking trails that wind their way through the preserve.


Nature Center Rules

  • Pets are not permitted on Nature Center grounds, including the parking lots.
  • Nature Centers are unable to accept injured, orphaned or abandoned wildlife.
  • For your safety and for the protection of natural areas, please stay on marked trails. Trails are for hiking only.
  • Bicycles are only allowed in Nature Center parking lots, or at provided bike racks.
  • For the benefit of other visitors and wildlife, please maintain respectful noise levels at all times.
  • Picnicking is not permitted on Nature Center grounds. An adjacent picnic grove can be opened for pre-registered groups on weekdays.
  • Food or drink is not permitted in Nature Center buildings.
  • With the exception of water or sports bottles, food and drink are not permitted on Nature Center trails. Please dispose of litter in proper receptacles.
  • Collecting of any kind is prohibited, as is the use of metal detectors. The fine for picking wildflowers is $500.
  • For the protection of animals and visitors alike, please do not feed the wildlife.
  • Be mindful of closing times for trails, the Nature Center building and parking lot.
  • Please report safety hazards or suspicious activities to the Nature Center staff.
  • Cross-country skiing is not permitted on Nature Center trails.