School & Scout
Tucked into Lake County’s most urban area is this island of green. A surprising array of birds, wildflowers and landscapes are found here, and the amenities are clean, safe and well designed.
The site also is home to the Greenbelt Cultural Center, a versatile facility designed with help from the public. The Center hosts community events and educational programs.
The preserve offers 5 miles of trails for hiking, 4 miles of trails for bicycling and cross-country skiing, and a 1-mile self-guided nature trail. Please keep dogs leashed and on trails at all times, and pick up after them. Learn about our off-leash Dog Parks (permit required).
Teachers can enhance their classroom work with a field trip to Greenbelt. Nature education and history programs emphasize fun and adventure, and let children take a hands-on approach to nature. Exclusive to Greenbelt is the Crane Chronicles program, in which fourth and fifth graders become newspaper reporters and investigate wild crane populations in Lake County.
An ancient path is central to much of Greenbelt's history. Today we call it Green Bay Road and it cuts the property in half. About 200 years ago, the trail was used by Native Americans looking for a high and dry passage through the area's lowlands. They were joined by fur traders in the late 1700s and replaced by soldiers and mail carriers traveling from Chicago to Green Bay (hence the road's name). When frontier surveyors arrived in Lake County in the 1830s, this was the only major road. Learn more »
One early resident of this land was Alfred Bennett, brother of Lake County's first African American settler, Amos Bennett. Born to freed slaves in 1805 in New York, Alfred came to Lake County when he was 42 and lived at his brother's home in Gurnee. Five years later he bought 40 acres on the preserve's east side for a farm. After just two years he moved to Michigan. James Dugdale was also born in 1805. He came here from Ireland and farmed land from about 1840 to 1870. Dudgale Road borders Greenbelt on the east.
We began purchasing land at this site in 1971.
Greenbelt sits atop the sub-continental divide, marked by Green Bay Road. Rain falling on the east side of Green Bay Road heads for the Gulf of St. Lawrence, but rain falling on the west side heads for the Gulf of Mexico.
This is a fairly open landscape of oak groves, wetlands and prairie. Like most natural areas in this region, Greenbelt has felt the effect of 150 years of settlement. We’re nursing it back to health with success. Once again you can find wildflowers such as shooting stars, blue-eyed grass and mayapples here.
The main entrance to the preserve and to the Green Youth Farm is on the west side of Green Bay Road, south of Route 120 (Belvidere Road), directly across from the entrance to the Greenbelt Cultural Center.
A second parking lot is located on Dugdale Road, just south of 10th Street in Waukegan. Use this lot to access trails and fishing on the east side of the preserve.
On a 1.25-acre farm nestled within Greenbelt, the Green Youth Farm in Lake County is providing high school students with a paid work experience, entrepreneurial and job skills training, guidance by adult mentors, and exposure to healthy foods and cooking, while providing the local community with organically grown produce for free or at a reduced-cost. Teens grow produce while learning about gardening skills.
We partner with the Preservation Foundation and the Chicago Botanic Garden to make this program possible. Learn more »
Before heading out, check the current status of trail underpasses. Also...
Safeguard against auto burglary. When property is left unlocked or in plain...
While enjoying activities outside, don’t forget to take action to prevent...
Use our NEW interactive trail map to help navigate your next adventure...
Donated trees are chipped and used for preserve trails and landscaping.
Cold weather brings winter fun in your forest preserves.