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Cuba Marsh

It would be hard to find a prettier blend of marsh, woodland and grassland in Lake County than that found here. 


Three miles of trails for hiking, bicycling and cross-country skiing take visitors through open areas of gently rolling hills that feature views of the marsh and scattered groves.

A 0.9-mile gravel trail winds from the southern loop of the main trail through the southwest corner of the preserve to Barrington's Citizens Park. This trail segment includes a boardwalk and a 50-foot-long timber bridge. An anonymous donor contributed $100,000 toward the cost of the bridge as a memorial to Keith Peterson, a former Lake County Forest Preserve Board member (District 5; 1972–76), and devoted naturalist and outdoorsman.

Habitat Improvements Underway

The water level will remain lowered in order to perform maintenance on the marsh’s water control structure. Repairs to this structure will allow our ecologists to restore and manage habitat for wetland birds, many of which are listed as threatened or endangered in the state of Illinois, such as the American bittern, common moorhen, king rail, pied-billed grebe, and least bittern. During construction, the preserve will remain open. Visitors may notice lower water levels in the marsh and mud flats along the shoreline. This is a temporary phase as cattails and other wetland plants become reestablished.



Cuba Marsh Forest Preserve is located in Deer Park.

The entrance is on Cuba Road, west of Ela Road and east of Route 59. [View on Google Maps]




When settlers first came to this land, it was prairie and marsh with a grove of oaks. They drained the marsh, plowed the prairie and planted crops. In the 1950s and 60s, most of the farmers sold their land to investors who planned to develop homes. Local residents wanted the area preserved as open space. They banded together to form “Citizens for Conservation” and helped the Lake County Forest Preserves preserve the property.

A mansion overlooking a mosaic of canals and forested islands once stood on the northwest side of the preserve. Cuba Marsh received its name from its location on Cuba Road, which traverses Cuba and Ela Townships. Cuba Township was originally named Troy Township, but changed in 1850 to show support for an insurrection at that time on the island nation of Cuba.


The Natural Scene

One of the best things about Cuba Marsh is its diversity, combining marsh and prairie with woodland and savanna. As a result, a wide range of plants and animals make their homes here. The wetland supports many species and is a great spot to view waterfowl such as pied-billed grebes and American coots. It also provides flood relief to nearby homes and cleanses the water that flows into Flint Creek and eventually the Fox River.

A unique dry-hill prairie on the preserve’s southeast side is supports rare plants. Though the rest of Cuba Marsh was farmed at one time, plows luckily never reached this prairie. Much work has gone into restoring this preserve, including the removal of drainage tiles and non-native invasive species, and replanting of more than 80,000 trees.


Preserve News

Preserve safety tips
Board approves 100-year Vision and Strategic Plan
Board approves 100-year vision