Enjoy Forest Preserves trails with your on-leash dog or purchase a membership for our three Off-Leash Dog Areas.
On this page:
- Where Can I Take My Dog?
- Off-Leash Dog Areas
- Trail Rules & Etiquette
Where Can I Take My Dog?
- On-leash: On-leash dogs are allowed at any location or trail that is not on the prohibited list below. Locations where you can walk your dog on a leash will be marked with a Dogs (on-leash only) icon on maps and location pages on this website. View a web map of approved locations.
- Off-leash: Dogs are welcome off-leash at our three Off-Leash Dog Areas with a membership. These are the only locations within the Forest Preserves where off-leash dogs are allowed.
Dogs are not allowed at the following locations*:
- Nature Center buildings, grounds and trails
- Illinois Nature Preserves**
- Aquatic Centers
- Swallow Cliff Stairs
- Waterbodies (lakes, ponds, streams)
- Inside Forest Preserves buildings
- Any location where a sign indicates dogs are not allowed
*Service animals are permitted in most public areas on Forest Preserves property. Visit our accessibility page for more information about our service animal policy.
**Unless an official, marked trail travels through the Nature Preserve and the dog is on-leash.
Why can’t I let my dog off-leash?
Owners of dogs found off-leash in the Forest Preserves (except at designated Off-Leash Dog Areas) can be fined up to $500 per offense.
Even well-behaved off-leash dogs can:
- Chase or frighten wildlife—including endangered and protected species.
- Interact with on-leash dogs, sometimes leading to conflict.
- Leave waste without their owners noticing.
- Approach visitors who do not want to interact with dogs.
Off-Leash Dog Areas
Overview & Membership Fees
The Forest Preserves operates the Beck Lake, Bremen Grove and Miller Meadow Off-Leash Dog Areas—these are the only locations within the Forest Preserves where off-leash dogs are allowed. An annual membership is required to enter Off-Leash Dog Areas:
- Each membership includes one membership card that provides access to all three Off-Leash Dog Areas.
- Memberships are valid from October 1 through September 30 of the following year.
- Please allow up to two weeks processing time from receipt of the application and Veterinarian Health Report (PDF).
|Cook County Resident||$60/dog|
|Keyless Card Refundable Deposit||$10|
- Have your veterinarian complete the Veterinarian Health Report (PDF).
- Apply online and submit payment.
- Submit your completed Veterinarian Health Report via email (FPD.Permits@cookcountyil.gov) or mail (address below).
You must submit a Veterinarian Health Report in addition to your online application to receive your membership card. Please allow up to two weeks processing time from the submission date of the Veterinarian Health Report.
Memberships are available for up to three dogs online. If you need memberships for more than three dogs, please submit your requests via email (FPD.Permits@cookcountyil.gov).
Apply In Person or By Mail
The Forest Preserves General Headquarters permit office is open by appointment only: Monday to Friday from 9 am to 3 pm and Saturday from 9 am to 1:30 pm.
Appointments can be booked online.
Submit your Off-Leash Dog Area Application and Veterinarian Health Report by mail or in person at Forest Preserves General Headquarters. Please allow up to two weeks processing time.
These are the only locations within the Forest Preserves where off-leash dogs are allowed.
- 40 acres
- Large pond
- Outdoor shelter
- Connected to 9 miles of trails (leash required)
- 3 acres
- Separate areas for large and small (under 25 pounds) dogs
- Connected to 33 miles of trails (leash required)
- 7 acres
- Outdoor shelter
- Connected to 2 miles of trails (leash required)
Aggressive Dog Ban Policy
The Forest Preserves has adopted a “Three-Strikes” aggressive dog policy, which effectively bans any dog and/or its owner either permanently or for a period exceeding twelve (12) months from all Off-Leash Dog Areas after three (3) documented incidents of aggressive behavior as described in the policy below. The policy also establishes that dog owners are held responsible if their dog bites, attacks, or injures any person and/or other animal.
Are you passionate about the dog community and the Off-Leash Dog Areas (OLDA) in the Forest Preserves? OLDA Caretakers are the connectors between the dog community and the Forest Preserves. These volunteers act as ambassadors with a focus on community building and offer assistance to Forest Preserves staff on Off-Leash Dog Area volunteer recruitment, orientation, training, supplies and more.
Trail Rules & Etiquette
- Use official, marked trails. Bicycle and horse riders are prohibited from riding off-trail or on unofficial trails. Off-trail and unofficial trail use—even by walkers and runners—damages plant and wildlife habitats.
- Stay to the right. Ride or walk on the right side of the trail and stay single file whenever possible.
- Pass safely. Give an audible warning (examples: ring a bike bell or say “on your left”) and slow down before passing others. Pass in single file only. Ask permission to pass equestrians.
- Yield to other trail users. Bicycle riders must yield to other types of trail users. Walkers and runners must yield to equestrians.
- Keep your dog on-leash. Most trails allow dogs, but they must be on leash, controlled by their owner and on the right side of the trail.
- Make sure your ride is allowed. Check our web map to see where you can ride a horse or bike (including class 1 and 2 e-bikes). Not allowed anywhere: Class 3 e-bikes; electrically powered scooters, unicycles and hoverboards; and gas-powered vehicles such as ATVs or motorcycles. People with mobility limitations are allowed to use personal mobility devices.
- Travel at a safe speed. Bicycle and e-bike riders must travel at speeds under 15 miles per hour—or slower in busy areas or where a speed limit is posted.
- Pay attention to trail signs. Signs tell you which trail users are allowed and alert you to hazards or busy areas ahead.
- Keep the trail clear. Do not block trails—move to the side of the trail before stopping.
- Stay out of the mud. Avoid using wet trails—if you are leaving prints, you are damaging the trail.
- Protect yourself. Helmets are recommended for all types of bicycle riders, especially for riders 14 and under.
- Be polite and courteous. Our multi-use trails are for everyone.
- Remember that trail use involves risk. Please review our Trail Risk Statement.
Nature Center Trails
- Nature center trails are for walking only. Bicycles, pets, horses and cross-country skiing are not allowed.
- Nature center trails are open only during posted nature center hours.
- Walk your horse between the stable and trail.
- Keep your horse under control—the only permitted gaits are walk, trot or slow canter. Galloping and racing are not permitted.
- Slow to a walk or slow trot when meeting other trail users.
- Do not hitch horses to trees or other vegetation.
- Do not use paved trails.
- Be humane and kind to your horse.
- Stallions are not permitted on trails.