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This summer, hit the trails in the Forest Preserves of Cook County to view summer wildflowers and wildlife, as well as native and migrating birds. Looking for recommended hikes? Check out the list below for a different featured hike in each of the Forest Preserves’ five zones.

Carl R. Hansen Woods

Rte 59, south of Shoe Factory Rd, Hoffman Estates

Follow a 2.7-mile loop trail to see diverse landscapes full of summer wildflowers and prairie grasses. This site’s habitats support a variety of butterflies, including the viceroy and tiger swallowtail.

River Trail Nature Center: 3120 Milwaukee Ave, Northbrook

Enjoy a peaceful walk through River Trail’s sugar maple forest along a 1.5-mile trail. Hikers may spot a variety of wildlife including wood ducks, Cooper’s hawks, American toads and Eastern garter snakes.

Chicago Portage National Historic Site: S Harlem Ave, south of 47th St, Lyons

Explore one of only two designated National Historic Sites in Illinois. The site features a statue of French explorer Louis Joliet and missionary Father Jacques Marquette’s expedition exploring the Mississippi River, which commemorates the historic Native American portage linking the Chicago River to the Des Plaines River.

Oak Forest Heritage Preserve: Fieldcrest Dr, southwest of Crawford, Oak Forest

While traversing Oak Forest Heritage Preserve’s 1.7-mile loop trail, hikers can learn the many ways the site was used throughout history.

Plum Creek Meadow: Burnham Ave, north of 223rd St, Chicago Heights

Hikers should bring a pair of binoculars to enjoy this 1.8-mile unpaved loop trail to try spotting a variety of birds including Henslow’s or grasshopper sparrows, dickcissels and yellow-breasted chats.

healthy hotspot map

Check out the Healthy HotSpot Map to find walkable places, such as forest preserves, communities and farmers’ markets.

did you know?

Walking daily helps to connect you and others while building strong bodies and friendships!

did you know?

You burn more calories when you walk sideways. Try it for a few minutes!

did you know?

Walking 20 mins each day will burn 7lbs. of body fat per year.

did you know?

Walking 45 mins each day will cut the odds of getting a cold in half.