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Your Forest Preserves

your forest preserves

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McDonald Woods Trail Map
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Acreage

308 acres

Activities

Bicycling
Cross-Country Skiing
Fishing
Hiking

Amenities

Drinking Water
Picnic Tables
Public Parking
Toilets
Trails

Related Sites 

Millennium Trail and Greenway

McDonald Woods

Construction Alert

A new underpass is being constructed at Grass Lake Road west of Route 45. Completion is expected in fall 2014. 

 

Behold the gentle, rolling grassy terrain of this scenic preserve. The dips and rises here were formed by the advance and retreat of immense ice chunks during the last Ice Age. When the weather warmed, grasslands dominated. In autumn, big bluestem and switch grass turn amber brown and yellow, swaying to the music of the wind.

McDonald Woods is a perfect place to hike, bicycle and cross-country ski. Take the 3.8-mile loop around the woods and wetlands for some great exercise. 

A 0.3-mile wood-chip trail designed for hiking and cross-country skiing leads to a basswood and sugar maple forest, glowing yellow in autumn. A cooling ravine beckons below where migrant songbirds feast on insects, and water skimmers dart atop the clear water.

A toilet, drinking fountain and picnic table are located near the entrance. Trails here connect to the Millennium Trail and other community hiking and biking paths.

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Location

McDonald Woods Forest Preserve is located in northern Lake County in Lindenhurst. [View on Google maps]

The entrance and parking area are located on Grass Lake Road, just west of Route 45 and east of Route 83.

 

 

History

Acquired in the 1970s, the preserve was named after its owner A. B. McDonald. He created a private nature preserve on roughly 295 acres in the 1940s, building three lakes and planting a pine grove and other trees. These habitats, along with the grasslands, provide homes for wildflowers and food, cover for birds and mammals, and respite for humans.

The grasslands, once fallow fields, have been restored. Now in summer and fall, the grasslands teem with native prairie plants including gray-headed coneflowers and the lavender-hued wild bergamot, called bee balm because it attracts hungry bees. The Forest Preserve also restored the three lakes into a series of wetlands, which provide food and resting spots for myriad ducks in fall and spring.

 

The Natural Scene

An evergreen woods provides roosting places for chickadees and cardinals as well as birds of prey including Cooper’s hawk. Pine siskins, which pluck seeds from cones, occasionally spend the winters here. Dark-eyed juncos hop on the snowy forest floor snatching seeds fallen from trees and shrubs.

In spring and summer listen for the rollicking sounds of bobolinks and the spring-of-the-year song of the eastern meadowlark as these grassland birds prepare for another breeding season.

 

Preserve News

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

Preserve Improvements

Millennium Trail and Greenway Improvements