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.