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?
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.
- On-leash: On-leash dogs are allowed at any location or trail that is not on the prohibited list above. These locations 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.
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
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impacts
Service at the Forest Preserves General Headquarters permits counter is by appointment only on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9am to 3:30pm. We strongly encourage patrons to call 800-870-3666 or email FPD.Permits@cookcountyil.gov for their permit needs.
Please call 800-870-3666 to leave a message for in-person appointment scheduling or to book a permit by phone. Calls are returned within 24 to 48 hours.
Submit your Off-Leash Dog Area Application and Veterinarian Health Report by mail or in person at Forest Preserves General Headquarters (address and hours below). Please allow up to two weeks processing time.
Mon – Fri: 8:30am – 4:30pm
Memorial Day to Labor Day Hours:
Mon – Fri: 8:30am – 4:30pm
Sat: 9am – 2pm
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
- Water fountain
- 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.
Trail Rules & Etiquette
- Trail users are asked to be polite and courteous to fellow patrons.
- Off-trail riding is prohibited.
- Trail users must ride or walk on the right side of the trail.
- Trail users must give an audible warning before passing others. Announce yourself and slow down to pass.
- Patrons must obey all signs.
- Speeding is not allowed.
- Dogs must be leashed and in control on right side of trail.
- Helmets are recommended for all riders, and required for riders 14 and under.
- Bicyclists and horses must ride single-file.
- Stop only on shoulder of the trail.
- Ride at a responsible, controlled speed. No racing is allowed.
- Trail use involves risk, please review our Trail Risk Statement.
- Trail users must stay in their own lane.
- Bicycles must be walked down overpasses.
- Equestrian use of paved trails is prohibited.
- Bicyclists and equestrians must stay on designated trails.
- Bicyclists must yield to hikers and equestrians.
- Hikers must yield to equestrians.
- Trail users must ask permission to pass equestrians.
- Trail usage is prohibited in muddy conditions.
- Horses must be licensed.
Nature Center Trails
- Nature Center trails are intended for walking. Bikes, pets, horses and cross-country skiing are not allowed.
- Nature Center trails are open only during posted Nature Center hours.
- Walk horses between stable and trail.
- Slow to a walk or slow trot when meeting other riders, hikers or bicyclists.
- Do not race horses—always keep horses under control.
- Stallions are not permitted on trails.
- Be humane and kind to your horse.
- The only permitted gaits are walk, trot or slow canter. No galloping, please.
- Horses may not be hitched to trees.