Independence Grove


16400 West Buckley Road
Libertyville, IL 60048


6:30 am–sunset, daily. Visitors Center: 9 am–4:30 pm, daily, unless otherwise posted. With the exception of service animals, dogs, horses and other pets are not permitted in this preserve.

Picnic Shelters

North Bay Pavilion


Trail Map


1,151 acres


Dog Park
Ice Fishing
Ice Skating
Picnic Shelter Rental
Summer Camps
In-line Skating
Cross-Country Skiing


Picnic Tables
Flush Toilets
Heated Restrooms
Sand Volleyball Court
Fishing Pier
Drinking Water
Public Parking
Picnic Shelters


School & Scout


Related Sites

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

Related Documents

Lake Map

Countywide Map and Guide

Centered around a 115-acre lake, this preserve offers a variety of opportunities for outdoor recreation and nature education. 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.

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

While part of the larger preserve, the Independence Grove Dog Park has its own separate entrance on Milwaukee Avenue, just north of Route 137. This special place is one of four Dog Parks where dogs can run and play off-leash. An annual or daily permit and a dog are required for entry.


Roughly 6.25 miles of trails circle the lake and run through scenic natural areas here.

  • Gravel: 2.3-mile Lakeside Trail, and a short section of the Des Plaines River Trail, which connects to trails on the north side of the preserve.
  • Paved: 2.5-mile Overlook Trail, and the 0.7-mile South Bay Trail Loop. 
  • Combination paved and gravel: 0.75-mile North Bay Trail Loop.

Summer Concerts

Relax outdoors at our summer concert music series in the Millennia Plaza overlooking the lake. Pack a picnic or buy dinner and beverages at the café. Enjoy a variety of music by talented bands playing originals and classics.

Marina, Boats & Bikes

Check Current Status | Season schedule, hours and fees »

Though personal watercraft are not allowed on the lake at Independence Grove, you can rent fishing boats, canoes, kayaks, stand up paddleboards, and pedal boats at the marina spring through early fall. You can also rent comfort bikes, quadracycles and adaptive trikes. Approved flotation gear and bike helmets are provided. The marina also sells bait, tackle, fishing licenses, snacks and beverages.

Swimming Beach

Check Current Status | Season schedule, hours and fees »

The beach offers 400 feet of sand along the lake's South Bay. An adjacent beach house offers washrooms, showers and lockers. The walk-up café located at the Visitors Center sells snacks and beverages. Season beach passes offer unlimited use of the beach and are available for purchase at the Visitors Center.

Group Use

A group rate for the marina and beach, is available to groups of 15 or more, Monday through Friday. 

How to Reserve
Group use reservations are required and must be made at least 10 days or more in advance so that we can ensure proper staffing and equipment. Please fill out the form to get started.

Group Use Request Form


Located on the north side of the Visitors Center, the café is open seasonally and sells snacks, light entrees, beverages and ice cream from a convenient walk-up window. Season schedule, hours and menu »

Children's Grove

Located adjacent to the Visitors Center, this sensory-rich play environment with handicap-adaptable equipment and wide paved pathways makes access comfortable and enjoyable for all visitors. All Forest Preserve playgrounds are smoke-free environments.

Visitors Center

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. Learn more »

Millennia Plaza

An amphitheater, fountain and native garden make an ideal setting for a variety of special programs, events, outdoor celebrations, and our annual summer concerts series. 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.

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 reservations and catering arrangements, contact Catering by Michaels at 847-966-6555.

Canoe Launch

Bring your own canoe or kayak and launch it on the Des Plaines River. Located near the preserve's North Bay Pavilion, the launch 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. Learn more »


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 at Independence Grove 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.


Free for Lake County residents. Driver's license is required for proof of residency.
$5 per car for nonresidents, Mon–Thu, $10 Fri–Sun and holidays
During the summer concert music series, June–August:
$10 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.
Vehicle window sticker available
$5 for Lake County residents only. Purchase at Visitors Center.
Sticker allows visitors to bypass showing the required proof of county residency on each visit. Just point out your sticker to the gate attendant to be waved through. Sticker is good for the life of the vehicle's window and is not transferable. It is not valid after 5 pm on Events in the Plaza concert nights.



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. Learn more »

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. Learn more »

The preserve's rolling prairies, open fields and woodlands offer the perfect environment for a variety of wildlife like owls, muskrats, beavers, minks, raccoons, possums and 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.


The preserve's main entrance is on Buckley Road (Route 137), just east of Milwaukee Avenue (Route 21), and west of River Road. Pets are not permitted in the preserve.

The entrance to the Dog Park is on Milwaukee Avenue, just north of Buckley Road (Route 137). An annual or daily permit and a dog are required for entry.