Sauk Trail Woods

Thorn Creek Trail at Sauk Trail Woods surrounded by trees with leaves changing from green to reds and oranges
Photo by Sebasthian Picasso.

Sauk Trail Woods has something for everyone—a paved trail loop on the Thorn Creek Trail System, picnic groves shaded by giant oak trees, and a 29-acre lake for fishing and spotting migratory birds.

On this page:


Connecting People to Nature Challenge at Sauk Trail Woods

The Forest Preserves is investing $1 million across three locations in Cook County through our Connecting People to Nature Challenge. How should we improve Sauk Trail Woods to better serve your community? What kind of events and activities would you like to be involved in there?

Contact us at Experience.Nature@cookcountyil.gov or call 708-771-1573 to be involved in future meetings and feedback opportunities.

Learn more about Sauk Trail Woods improvements.


Locations & Things to Do

Sauk Trail Woods includes multiple locations:


Sauk Trail Woods-North

Things to Do & Amenities

Picnic Groves

  • Grove #3
    (with shelter)
    • Capacity: 150 people
  • Grove #4
    • Capacity: 100 people
Event Permits PageGrove PDF Map of Sauk Trail Woods-North

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts


Sauk Trail Woods-East

Entrance

Forest Preserve Dr, south of W 26th St
South Chicago Heights, IL 60411

Things to Do & Amenities

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

Picnic Groves

  • Grove #1
    (with shelter)
    • Capacity: 100 people
  • Grove #2
    • Capacity: 100 people
Event Permits PageGrove PDF Map of Sauk Trail Woods-East

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts


Sauk Trail Woods-Central

Entrance

Forest Preserve Dr, south of W 26th St
South Chicago Heights, IL 60411

Things to Do & Amenities

Picnic Groves

  • Grove #5
    (with shelter)
    • Capacity: 200 people
Event Permits PageGrove PDF Map of Sauk Trail Woods-Central

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts


Sauk Trail Woods-South

Entrance

Forest Preserve Dr, north of W Sauk Trail
South Chicago Heights, IL 60411

Things to Do & Amenities

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

Picnic Groves

  • Grove #6
    • Capacity: 100 people
Event Permits PageGrove PDF Map of Sauk Trail Woods-South

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts


Schubert’s Woods

Entrance

Sauk Trail, west of Ashland Ave
Cook County, IL 60475
(near Steger)

Things to Do & Amenities

Picnic Groves

  • Grove #1
    (with shelter)
    • Capacity: 150 people
Event Permits PageGrove PDF Map of Schubert’s Woods

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts


King’s Grove

Entrance

Ashland Ave, south of Sauk Trail
Cook County, IL 60475
(near Steger)

Things to Do & Amenities

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

Picnic Groves

  • Grove #1
    (with shelter)
    • Capacity: 300 people
Event Permits PageGrove PDF Map of King’s Grove

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts


Trails

Thorn Creek Trail System

The Thorn Creek Trail System's nearly 20 miles of paved and unpaved trails connect multiple forest preserves, winding past lakes, wetlands and woodlands.

Location: Calumet City, Chicago Heights, Glenwood, Lansing, Lynwood, Park Forest & South Holland

Surface

Paved & Unpaved

Estimated Total Length

29.9 miles

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts

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

sauk lake

Fishing at Sauk Lake

Sauk Lake is a 29-acre lake with a maximum depth of just over four feet.  It was created as an impoundment of Thorn Creek in 1923 when a dam was installed at 26th Street. Due to heavy erosion and sedimentation from Thorn Creek, the game fish population is quite sparse, made up mostly common carp and bullhead. Smaller numbers of largemouth bass, bluegill and green sunfish are also present. 


Fishing Access

Sauk Trail Woods-Central
Forest Preserve Dr, south of W 26th St
South Chicago Heights, IL 60411 (view web map of Sauk Trail Woods-Central)

Sauk Trail Woods-North
W 26th St, west of Euclid Ave
South Chicago Heights, IL 60411 (view web map of Sauk Trail Woods-North)

Sauk Trail Woods-South
Forest Preserve Dr, north of W Sauk Trail
South Chicago Heights, IL 60411 (view web map of Sauk Trail Woods-South)

Cinnabar chanterelles at Schubert's Woods Near Sauk Lake. Photo by John Denk.
Cinnabar chanterelles at Schubert’s Woods Near Sauk Lake. Foraging and picking is prohibited in the Forest Preserves. Photo by John Denk.

Nature Notes

Sauk Trail Lake was formed when Thorn Creek was dammed and water filled the steep walls of the creek.

As Thorn Creek flows into the Little Calumet River, it’s a popular stopping point for migratory birds in late fall and early spring. Visitors have seen wood ducks, osprey, white-eyed vireos, yellow throats, yellow warbler, Acadian flycatcher, towhees and more. Hikers can see gray-headed coneflower, Rudbeckia and fragrant plants like mountain mint along the trial.

A marsh in the northwest corner of the preserve is home to aquatic plants and grasses. Adjacent to Thorn Creek and Sauk Lake, there is a rich mesic oak woodland with ravine system containing many plants including Penn sedge, Swan’s sedge, bloodroot, and Short’s aster.