On this page:
- Location & Things to Do
- Trails & Trailside Museum
- Indoor Event Rentals
- Nature Notes
- Volunteer Opportunities
Location & Things to Do
Things to Do & Amenities
Picnic Groves1, 2 (view picnic grove PDF map of Thatcher Woods)
HoursYear-round: Sunrise to Sunset
Closures & Alerts
Trails & Trailside Museum
A primitive trail system follows the bends of the east side of the Des Plaines River. The footpaths, which can be muddy, provide access for hikers to the floodplain and bluffs. Elevations in the upland regions can reach 625 feet, dropping, sometimes abruptly, into the river floodplain.
Please note: bikers, cross-country skiers and horses are not allowed on these primitive trails.
Visitors can learn more about the natural and cultural history of the area at Trailside Museum of Natural History, just south of Chicago Avenue. This nature center is open year-round and is free.
Indoor Event Rentals
The Thatcher Woods Pavilion is anchored by a stone masonry traditional gas-lit fireplace which adds richness to the restoration of the entire facility. Two meeting rooms can be used either as a single space or two separate functions, which can accommodate approximately 120 or 80/40 guests accordingly. A convenient prep-type kitchen is on-site.
Thatcher Woods represents a cross-section of the Des Plaines River Valley and supports remnant floodplain forest, savanna and prairie. The area is one of the only remaining examples of quality floodplain forest left in the Northeastern Morainal Division of Illinois.
More than 250 native plant species populate Thatcher Woods. In the north, floodplain forest gradually leads to a scenic river bluff. Views open up to colorful summer wildflowers in a prairie on the west side of the river. Some areas flood in the spring and summer, offering expanded feeding grounds to great white egrets, painted turtles and kingfishers, while pileated woodpeckers tap in the trees above.
At the southern end of Thatcher Woods, swamp white, red, white and bur oaks comprise the canopy of an oak savanna. Native grasses and wildflowers such as bloodroot, white trout lily, wild coffee, yellow pimpernel and spring beauty live beneath the trees.
At least 45 bird species are nesting residents in this extensive forest habitat. They include the wood thrush, ovenbird, great crested flycatcher, scarlet tanager, red-headed woodpecker, black-billed and yellow-billed cuckoos, broad-winged hawk, and kingfisher. The endangered sharp-shinned hawk, veery and red-shouldered hawk have also been observed as nesting residents in the woods.
The Thatcher Woods Savanna Restoration Project is a community based organization formed to restore an ecosystem poised on the verge of extinction. Volunteer efforts have been a turning point in restoring the oak savanna to its pre- European settlement state. Join fellow volunteers to relieve the stress in your life while helping to relieve the stress on our natural areas. This opportunity is more appropriate for adults, older than 19 years old. Please bring a water bottle and dress appropriately for the workday.