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Independence Grove Dog Exercise Area
Des Plaines River Trail Map
Independence Grove trail map
Countywide Map & Guide
Independence Grove Lake Fishing Map


1151 acres


Boating / Canoeing / Kayaking
Cross-Country Skiing
Ice Fishing
Ice Skating
Independence Grove Concerts
Native Plant Sale | 2015
Picnic Shelter Rental
Summer Camps
Swimming | Independence Grove


Drinking Water
Picnic Shelters
Picnic Tables
Public Parking

Related Sites 

Des Plaines River Trail and Greenway
Independence Grove Canoe Launch
Independence Grove Dog Exercise Area
Independence Grove Visitors Center

Picnic Shelters

North Bay Pavilion

Independence Grove


Preserve open 6:30 am–sunset, daily. 

Independence Grove offers outdoor recreation and education opportunities centered on a 115-acre lake. Surrounding prairie and woodlands provide a picturesque backdrop for hiking, biking, picnicking and other fun activities.

Follow us on Twitter for news and updates on preserve activities, beach and marina closings, and our popular summer concert series.

Pets not permitted

With the exception of service animals, dogs, horses and other pets are not permitted in this preserve.

Visitors Center

Open daily 9 am–4:30 pm, unless otherwise posted. Call 847-968-3499 for updates. 

This dramatic building offers panoramic views of the lake and preserve. The open interior offers banquet and meeting space, a classroom, nature and history exhibits, and a cafe (open summer only).

Millennia Plaza

Millennia Plaza's amphitheater, fountain and native garden makes an ideal setting for a variety of special programs, events and outdoor celebrations. The Native Garden boasts lush flowers and foliage, a sculptured fountain, wooden pergola and gazebo, wood and wrought iron benches and winding red brick walkways. Volunteer gardeners help tend to its seasonal needs. The garden also shows homeowners how to create their own beautiful landscapes using low-maintenance native plants.


Closed for the season.    

Snacks, light entrees, beverages and ice cream are available from a convenient walk-up window on the north side of the Visitors Center. View menu

Marina, Boat & Bike Rentals

Closed for the season.

Hours 6:30 am–one hour before sunset. Marina is subject to unscheduled closings due to weather and conditions. Call 847-968-3499 for updates. 

Rent a canoe, kayak, pedal boat, stand up paddleboard, fishing boat, comfort bike, quadracycle or adaptive trike. Flotation gear and bike helmets provided with rental.

Boat and bike renters must be 16 years of age or older; however, participants 12–15 years of age may rent boats and/or bikes with a signature of a parent or guardian who is present on Preserve grounds. There are no age restrictions for passengers. View rental fees. The marina concession also offers bait, tackle, and fishing licenses. 

Personal watercraft are not allowed on the lake at Independence Grove.

Swimming Beach

Closed for the season.    

The beach offers 400 feet of sand along the lake's South Bay. An adjacent beach house offers washrooms, showers and lockers. Beach chairs and shade umbrellas available to rent. View admission fees. Save money with an annual beach pass, now on sale. Details. Purchase at the Visitors Center.

Lifeguards are on duty when the beach is open. For the safety of visitors and resident wildlife, inflatable items are not permitted. For those with limited mobility, a beach wheelchair that rolls over the sand and into the water with the assistance of a caregiver is available upon request and is free of charge.

Gift Cards

Available at the Visitors Center. While they may not be used for permits or merchandise, they never expire and can be used for:

  • beach admission, umbrella and chair rentals
  • boat and bike rentals at the marina
  • parking fee for non Lake County residents

Children's Playground

A sensory-rich play environment with state-of-the-art handicap-adaptable play equipment and wide paved pathways make access comfortable and enjoyable for all visitors. Located adjacent to the Visitors Center.

North Bay Pavilion

Situated on the scenic North Bay, this striking pavilion and adjacent open area are perfect for a corporate picnic, outdoor wedding, family reunion or other lakeside event. The pavilion accommodates up to 500 people and offers a stone fireplace, picnic tables, drinking water, electricity, parking, toilets, trail access, fishing pier, playfield and sand volleyball court. For rental and catering arrangements, call Picnics, Inc at 847-966-6555.


We've transformed a sterile quarry with step sides into a rich aquatic ecosystem with gently graded slopes and underwater islands. Musky, northern pike, black crappie, largemouth bass, channel catfish, walleye, bluegill and yellow perch are found here. Game fish are periodically stocked. A mandatory catch-and-release fishing program makes it recreational for anglers and beneficial for nature. Anglers are encouraged to use barbless, non-stainless steel hooks.

State fishing licenses are required and are available at the Marina (open seasonally), along with nightcrawlers and a limited stock of tackle. Fishing is not permitted in the preserve's south bay.


The preserve offers roughly 6.25 miles of trails. The Lakeside Trail (2.3 miles) offers a crushed granite surface ideal for hiking and jogging. The Overlook Trail (2.5 miles) runs through scenic areas of the preserve. Its paved surface is designed for in-line skating, biking and other general uses. Two shorter trails connect with the Lakeside and Overlook trails. The South Bay Trail Loop (0.7 miles) is paved, while the North Bay Trail Loop (0.75 miles) has combined asphalt and gravel sections. A short section of the Des Plaines River Trail connects to preserve trails. View trail map.

Canoe Launch

Bring your own canoe or kayak and launch it on the Des Plaines River. The canoe launch, located near the North Bay Pavilion, offers shoreline fishing, a trail connection to the Des Plaines River Trail, and parking. If you put in here, the next ramp, Oak Spring Road Canoe Launch, is 2.7 miles downstream.


Free for Lake County residents; $5 per car for nonresidents Mon–Thu, $10 Fri, Sat, Sun and holidays.

During the annual Events in the Plaza summer concert series, parking is $6 per car after 5 pm on concert days (Tuesdays, rain or shine) for concertgoers and all other preserve visitors. Cars are turned away when parking is full.

Lake County residents can purchase a vehicle window sticker to bypass stopping to show the required proof of county residency on each visit. Just point out your sticker to the gate attendant and they'll wave you through. The sticker is good for the life of the vehicle's window and is non-transferrable. Fee is $5 and available for purchase at the Visitors Center.



Independence Grove Forest Preserve is located in Libertyville. [View on Google Maps]

The preserve entrance is located on Buckley Road (Route 137) just east of Milwaukee Avenue (Route 21) and west of River Road.



When this land was purchased in 1978, an idea evolved that an old gravel quarry, 3,500 feet across and 75 feet deep, could be recycled and reclaimed. By the late 1980s, it was evident that something bigger could happen here. In the early 1990s, a community advisory committee helped brainstorm ideas and created a master plan that became the blueprint of what Independence Grove is today. The preserve opened to the public in 2001 and has become one of Lake County's most popular recreation destinations.

To create the lake, the quarry was mined of any remaining resources. Large pieces of equipment crushed the gravel, rock and concrete. Miles of conveyor belts throughout the bottom of the pit moved materials from one area to another. Mining royalties were put in a special fund to help pay for reclaiming the site for public use. Later, millions of cubic yards of clean fill were brought in to create about 60 acres of land. Since the walls of the old quarry were straight and steep, shelves were made along the edge to create a safer shoreline for wildlife habitat, and deter erosion. Thousands of trees and shrubs were planted.

One of the biggest challenges was creating a habitat for fish out of a sterile lake with no vegetation. Trees, fish cribs and concrete pipes were placed along the lake bottom before the water was allowed to rise.


The Natural Scene

Independence Grove welcomes many different kinds of visitors. During the spring, birds stop here to rest and feed during their long journey to nesting grounds as far north as the Arctic. Watch the trees along the Des Plaines River Greenway corridor for many colorful species of warblers.

The preserve's rolling prairies, wide-open spaces, and woodlands offer the perfect environment for a variety of wildlife like owls, muskrats, beaver, mink, raccoon, possum or deer. Take a guided night hike with our naturalists and you might even spy an owl in the oak forest. We also encourage wildlife by creating habitats for them. Special underwater shelves around the lakeshore are designed for aquatic plants. Above and below the water's surface, these plants provide nesting sites, cover and food for all types of wildlife.


Contact Information

Independence Grove
16400 W Buckley Rd
Libertyville, IL 60048
847-968-3499 (phone)
847-968-3259 (fax)
© Kim Karpeles

Preserve News

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