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Your Forest Preserves

your forest preserves

Maps

Des Plaines Lake Fishing Map
Des Plaines River Trail Map
Countywide Map & Guide

Activities

Bicycling
Boating / Canoeing / Kayaking
Cross-Country Skiing
Fishing
Hiking
Horseback Riding
Snowmobiling

Amenities

Toilets
Trails

Related Sites 

Captain Daniel Wright Woods
Captain Daniel Wright Woods Canoe Launch (Route 60)
Edward L. Ryerson Conservation Area
Half Day
Independence Grove
Independence Grove Canoe Launch
Independence Grove Visitors Center
Lake Carina
Oak Spring Road Canoe Launch
Old School
Sedge Meadow
Sedge Meadow Canoe Launch (Wadsworth Road)
Van Patten Woods
Van Patten Woods Canoe Launch (Russell Road)

Des Plaines River Trail and Greenway

Flooding Alert (4-4-14): The Rt. 132 (Grand Ave) and Rt. 60 underpasses are closed due to flooding. 


The Des Plaines River Trail and Greenway protects land along more than 85 percent of the river in Lake County, providing wildlife habitat, natural flood protection and outdoor recreation opportunities.

The trail spans nearly the entire length of Lake County for 31 miles as it winds through 12 forest preserves. It is a key link in a regional network of trails that includes the North Shore Bike Path, the McClory Trail and the Millennium Trail.

The trail follows the river's edge from Russell Road in Wadsworth to just south of Riverside Drive in Lincolnshire. It picks up again just north of Estonian Lane and runs south to Lake Cook Road where it connects to the Cook County Forest Preserve trail system. Bridges and underpasses from Wadsworth Road south make it possible to travel without crossing any major roads. 

The crushed-gravel trail is open to hikers, bicyclists, cross-country skiers, equestrians, and snowmobilers (between Russell Road and Wadsworth Road only).

Trail courtesy

  • Stay on the trails.
  • Stay to the right. Let others pass on the left.
  • Alert others when passing from behind.
  • Control the speed of bikes, horses and snowmobiles, and be prepared to stop quickly if needed.
  • Use caution around horses.
  • Keep your dog on a leash at all times.
  • Pick up after your pet.

Explore by canoe

The trail isn't the only way to explore the Des Plaines River Valley. The river itself offers an entirely different set of views and experiences, best explored by canoe. Location of launches, float time and notes.

Learn how to safely canoe or kayak through our classes taught by American Canoe Association-certified instructors. Upcoming public canoe and kayak classes. Group instruction also available.

 

Location

The Des Plaines River Trail and Greenway parallels its namesake river through Lake County.

Many preserves along the Des Plaines River Trail and Greenway provide trail access and parking.

 

History

Preservation of the Greenway has been a key priority since our agency's founding in 1958. With the river serving as a backbone and thousands of acres of contiguous, lush open space, this Greenway is a treasure of your forest preserve system.

In the late 1970s, the vision for a trail along the Greenway began to crystallize. Over the next three decades the Des Plaines River Trail grew, section by section.

The trail is complete except for a 1,500-foot-long-section between Riverside Drive and Estonian Lane. We are attempting to acquire the property rights needed to close the gap and complete the trail to its planned 33 miles.

 

The Natural Scene

As you travel through this river valley, look for changes in the landscape. In northern Lake County, the valley is wide and the river meanders. Open areas such as prairies and savannas are common. In southern Lake County, the valley is narrow and the river runs a straighter course. Woodlands are more common.

The river and its seasonal rising and falling help determine which plants and animals live here. Beaver, herons and turtles are a few of the native animals adapted to river life. Oaks, hickories and maples are some of the common trees.

A fire-blocking river

Notice that to the west of the river, prairies and savannas are common, while on the eastern bank of the river, you'll find maple woodlands. This is due to the river itself, blocking ancient wildfires that raged from the west. Maples cannot withstand fire, but the oaks of a savanna can. Keep this in mind when searching for good autumn color, and head to the maples at Captain Daniel Wright Woods.

Nature's highway

When 13 forest preserves lie along a continuous path within a river valley, many good things happen for nature. Animals and plants (through their seed and pollen) are not cut off from each other and are less restriced in their movement. For such things as tiny frogs, rare butterflies and delicate wildflowers, which stay strong only through a genetic mix with other groups of their kin, the Greenway is a gift.

At work 24/7

Flood protection is a key natural benefit, with lowlands poised to safely reduce damage from heavy rains and snowmelt entering the river. The Greenway not only stores water, it cleanses it too. Cleaner air and higher property values are two other Greenway rewards worth noting.

 
Copyright Carol Freeman

Preserve News

Native Plant Sale
Increased coyote activity
Board approves 100-year vision
 

Upcoming Events

Apr 26 Restoration Workdays
 

Preserve Improvements

IDOT's Route 21 Corridor Improvement Project
Woodland Habitat Restoration Project