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:


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

a mother and child exploring a sap bucket at River Trail Nature Center
Sat, Feb 22 • 1:30 pm

Sap’s Rising

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Sat, Feb 22 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
a mother and child exploring a sap bucket at River Trail Nature Center
Sun, Feb 23 • 1:30 pm

Sap’s Rising

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Sun, Feb 23 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
a mother and child exploring a sap bucket at River Trail Nature Center
Sat, Feb 29 • 1:30 pm

Sap’s Rising

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Sat, Feb 29 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
a mother and child exploring a sap bucket at River Trail Nature Center
Sun, Mar 1 • 1:30 pm

Sap’s Rising

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

Sap’s Rising

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
a mother and child exploring a sap bucket at River Trail Nature Center
Sat, Mar 7 • 1:30 pm

Sap’s Rising

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Sat, Mar 7 • 1:30 pm

Sap’s Rising

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Sat, Mar 7 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
a mother and child exploring a sap bucket at River Trail Nature Center
Sun, Mar 8 • 1:30 pm

Sap’s Rising

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Sun, Mar 8 • 1:30 pm

Sap’s Rising

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Sun, Mar 8 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
a mother and child exploring a sap bucket at River Trail Nature Center
Sat, Mar 14 • 1:30 pm

Sap’s Rising

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Sat, Mar 14 • 1:30 pm

Sap’s Rising

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Sat, Mar 14 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
Children looking into a sap bucket at River Trail Nature Center's Maple Syrup Festival.
Special Event Sun, Mar 15 • 11 am

48th Annual Maple Syrup Festival

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Sun, Mar 15 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Sat, Mar 21 • 10 am

Restoration Workdays

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Sat, Mar 21 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Sun, Mar 22 • 1:30 pm

Bucket Bug Hunt

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Sun, Mar 22 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Tue, Mar 24 • 1 pm

Spring Break Nature Drop In Days

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Wed, Mar 25 • 10 am

Small Serendipity

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Wed, Mar 25 • 1 pm

Spring Break Nature Drop In Days

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Thu, Mar 26 • 1 pm

Spring Break Nature Drop In Days

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Sat, Mar 28 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Sun, Mar 29 • 1:30 pm

Birds of Prey Series: Hawks & Falcons

River Trail Nature Center • Northbrook, IL 60062
River Trail Nature Center Building in Northbrook
Sun, Mar 29 • 3 pm

What’s On The Menu?

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.