Des Plaines River Trail and Greenway

15601 West Russell Road
Wadsworth,IL 60083
6:30 am–sunset, daily.

Des Plaines River Trail and Greenway

The Des Plaines River Trail and Greenway protects land along more than 76 percent of the river in Lake County, providing wildlife habitat, natural flood protection and outdoor recreation opportunities.

The gravel trail spans nearly the entire length of Lake County for 31.4 miles as it winds through 12 forest preserves. It is open for hiking, bicycling, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, and snowmobiling (between Russell Road and Wadsworth Road only). Please keep dogs leashed and on trails at all times, and pick up after them. Learn about our Off-Leash Dog Areas (permit required).

The trail follows the river's edge from Russell Road in Wadsworth 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. 

Before heading out, click the button below to check the current status (open/closed) of trails and underpasses.

Route 120 Underpass Updates

The Des Plaines River Trail underpass at Route 120 will be closed intermittently between April–August due to bridge maintenance. The Illinois Department of Transportation is initiating bridge maintenance work and requested the closure for safety reasons. Keep an eye out for posted signs.

Check Status of Trail

Explore by Canoe

The trail isn't the only way to explore this river valley. The river itself offers an entirely different set of views and experiences, best explored by canoe. We offer six launch sites along the river to drop in a canoe or kayak. All launch areas provide river access, shoreline fishing and parking. Some also have trail connections.

Oak Spring Canoe Launch: Closed for Bridge Construction

The Oak Spring Canoe Launch, parking lot and trail spur connecting to the DPRT will be closed beginning July 8 through summer of 2025 due to bridge construction. The Libertyville Township Road District will replace the Oak Spring Road Bridge over the Des Plaines River. Watch for posted signs. Visit the Oak Spring Road Bridge website for further information and progress updates.



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More About This Preserve

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 12 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 restricted 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.


Preservation of the Greenway has been a key priority since our agency's founding. 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 mid-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. In October 2015, the trail was complete.


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

Mile marker 0 is located in Van Patten Woods in Wadsworth at the Russell Road parking lot. Trails runs nearly the entire length of Lake County for 31.4 miles and winds through 12 forest preserves.

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