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Ryerson Woods Trail Map
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561 acres


Cross-Country Skiing
Hike Lake County Challenge
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Related Sites 

Edward L. Ryerson Welcome Center

Other Information

Volunteer at Ryerson Woods

Edward L. Ryerson Conservation Area

Rare species, rare communities and high quality natural areas combine to make this a very special preserve. More than half of the land is so ecologically valuable that it is dedicated as an Illinois Nature Preserve and benefits from special protection rules. 


Over 6.5 miles of scenic trails wind through woods to the Des Plaines River. Trails here are open to hikers and, when snow is at least four inches deep, cross-country skiers.

Please note, due to its nature preserve designation, bicycles, snowmobiles, dogs, horses and other pets are not allowed at this preserve.

Ned Ryerson Trail: The 2.5-mile crushed-gravel nature trail is wheelchair accessible and designed for easy use by the visually impaired. An audio guide for the trail is available for free checkout at the Welcome Center. This self-guided nature trail was funded by Tenneco Automotive and Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods.

Learn as you Explore 

Borrow our nature themed Explore Backpacks filled with hands-on activities for families with children up to 10 years old. The packs are free to use while in the preserve and can be checked out at the Welcome Center. A driver's license is held as deposit. Choose from four themes:

  • Plants
  • Farm
  • Birds
  • General nature


At the small farm area, you may spot sheep, goats, and chickens. Be sure to also look for butterflies that visit the rain gardens. 



Ryerson Conservation Area is located in Riverwoods. [View on Google Maps]

The entrance is located on Riverwoods Road between Half Day Road (Route 22) and Deerfield Road, just west of the Interstate 94 Tollway. 



Local history records document that Lake County’s first European settler, Captain Daniel Wright, owned property within the preserve. In the 1920s, a small number of families, including the Ryersons, Borlands and Fishers, purchased land here and built log cabins as weekend retreats. In 1942, the Ryersons built a summer estate home, which became the center of activity for their Brushwood Farm, known for its Arabian horses.

In 1966, the Ryerson family began to donate land to the Lake County Forest Preserves that eventually totaled 257 acres. The other families followed their lead and also donated and sold land enabling Ryerson Woods to grow to its current size.


The Natural Scene

Ryerson Woods supports some of Illinois' most pristine woodlands and several state threatened and endangered species. 

One of the best examples of a northern flatwoods forest, a rare northern Illinois landscape, and most of the floodplain forest left in northeastern Illinois can be found here. 

The preserve supports a variety of state threatened and endangered species. More than 150 bird species and nearly 600 species of flowering plants have been seen at Ryerson Woods. Springtime brings special wildflower magic and autumn puts on a dazzling show of color in the maple forest.


Contact Information

Edward L. Ryerson Conservation Area
21950 N Riverwoods Rd
Riverwoods, IL 60015
847-968-3320 (phone)
847-367-6649 (fax)

Preserve News

Celebrate Halloween With Us
Preserve safety tips
Board approves 100-year Vision and Strategic Plan

Upcoming Events

Oct 24 Halloween Hikes - 6:00
    Halloween Hikes - 6:30
    Halloween Hikes - 7:00
    Halloween Hikes - 7:30
    Halloween Hikes - 8:00
  25 Halloween Hikes - 5:30
    Halloween Hikes - 6:00
    Halloween Hikes - 6:30
    Halloween Hikes - 7:00
    Halloween Hikes - 7:30
    Halloween Hikes - 8:00
Nov 1 Forest Fitness

Preserve Improvements

Woodland Habitat Restoration Project