Independence Grove

Independence Grove

16400 West Buckley Road
Libertyville,IL 60048
1,151 acres
6:30 am–sunset, daily.

Independence Grove

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. Before heading out, check the current status (open/closed) of trails and underpasses at

Centered around a 129-acre lake, this preserve offers a variety of opportunities for outdoor recreation and nature education. Surrounding prairie and woodlands provide a picturesque backdrop for walking, biking, picnicking, fishing, concerts, playground, volleyball, and other fun activities. When conditions allow, ice skating and ice fishing are available in designated areas of the preserve. Wading, swimming, and launching personal watercraft on the preserve lake, are not permitted.

Follow us on social media @LCFPD for news and updates on preserve activities, Beer Garden at Independence Grove hours and menu, marina closings, and our popular summer concert series. You can also check our interactive map or call the hotline at 847-968-3499.

For permit information or general questions, call the preserve office at 847-968-3499.  

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


No dogs, horses or other pets are allowed in the preserve or preserve facilities.

Service Animals

Qualified services animals are allowed throughout the preserve and in all preserve facilities.


At Independence Grove, 7.5 miles of walking trails circle the lake and run through scenic natural areas. Roughly 6.4 miles are available for biking and 3.8 miles for in-line skating. Trails here also connect to neighboring communities and provide walk-in access to the preserve.

The preserve’s Lakeside Trail and a short section of the Des Plaines River Trail (DPRT) have gravel surfaces. The Overlook Trail and the South Bay Trail Loop have paved surfaces. The North Bay Trail Loop has a combination of paved and gravel surfaces. 


Beer Garden

Late spring through early fall, the Beer Garden at Independence Grove features a variety of Lake County craft brews on tap, along with packaged snacks and other beverages. Plenty of casual lakeside seating is available. Purchase a light meal, snack or beverage to be delivered to you from the preserve's café. Interested in hosting your next event at the Beer Garden? Fill out an inquiry form, and our team will be in touch soon.

Beer Garden Menu     Café Menu

Summer Concerts

Relax outdoors at our Concerts in the Plaza 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 musical genres by bands playing originals and classics. Pack a picnic or buy dinner at the café. Stop by the Beer Garden on concert nights for craft brews and scenic views.

Marina, Boat & Bike Rentals

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.

Group Use: A group rate for the marina 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.

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.

Indoor and Outdoor Venues

Offering panoramic views of the lake and preserve, Audubon Hall, the Millennia Plaza, and the North Bay Pavilion can be reserved for weddings, banquets, reunions, picnics and other private celebrations, corporate meetings and retreats, and community functions. For catering arrangements and reservations, contact Relish Events at Independence Grove at 847-665-9211 or Group rates and reservations are also available at the Beer Garden and marina. Email for details and pricing.

Events at Independence Grove

The Lake County Forest Preserves is proud to partner with Relish Events at Independence Grove to be our on-site caterer. To book your event, reach out to Relish Events at Independence Grove at 847-665-9211 or

Relish strives to beat all expectations with their “from scratch” approach to creative catering dishes. Their classically trained chefs can prepare a wide variety of cuisines and culinary creations, and their staff provides the highest-level hospitality, making the host feel relaxed and guests feel welcome. Relish can cater all types of events: weddings, graduations, birthdays, BBQ’s, holiday parties, communions, baptisms, bar and bat mitzvahs, corporate meetings, or any special event.

Visitors Center

Hours: 9 am–4:30 pm, daily, unless otherwise posted. This dramatic building offers panoramic views of the lake and preserve. The open interior offers banquet and meeting space, a classroom, preserve information, 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 showcases 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 outdoor pavilion and adjacent open area are perfect for a corporate picnic, outdoor wedding, family reunion or other lakeside events. Permits are required for exclusive use of the North Bay Pavilion and for use of open areas in the preserve for groups of 25 or more. The Pavilion can accommodate 50 to 600 guests, and offers reserved parking, water and electric services, restroom facilities, picnic tables, 2’ x 4’ charcoal grill, sand volleyball court, fishing pier, stone fireplace, plus accessibility to all of Independence Grove’s open spaces and hiking trails. For reservations and to learn more about catering arrangements »

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 31.4-mile 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.

Entrance and Parking

Free for Lake County residents. Driver's license is required for proof of residency.
$6 per car for nonresidents, Mon–Thu, $12 Fri–Sun and holidays. Fees collected spring through fall.
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.




  • INGR10
  • INGR01
  • INGR02
  • INGR03
  • INGR04
  • INGR05
  • INGR06
  • INGR07
  • INGR08
  • INGR09
  • INGR11
  • INGR12
  • INGR16
  • INGR17
  • INGR18
  • INGR19
  • INGR20
  • INGR21
  • INGR22
  • INGR23
  • IG_concerts_option_3_KK
  • IG_Entrance_stone_in_fall_-_Keith_Portman
  • gate_IG_190
  • IGDeck
  • IGFountainTurtle
  • NorthBay_JS
  • Pavilionentry2
  • One_Boats
  • IG_bikers_and_hikers_(Credit_Kim_Karpeles)
  • IG_east_side_of_lake_(Credit_Kim_Karpeles)
  • IG_Millennia_Plaza_pergola_(Credit_Kim_Karpeles)
  • IG_Pergola_(Credit_Kim_Karpeles)
  • IG-biking_(Credit_Kim_Karpeles)
  • IG-birdwatching
  • IG-Garden_and_Fountain_(Credit_Jess_Smith)
  • IG-native_garden
  • IMG_5694_IG_Small
  • INGR-201407_Copyright_John_Konstantaras
  • INGR-20140708-Copyright_John_Konstantaras
  • INGR-MA-20140708-Copyright_John_Konstantaras-3331

More About This Preserve

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, 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.


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 preserve's main entrance is on Buckley Road (Route 137), just east of Milwaukee Avenue (Route 21), and west of River Road. With the exception of service animals, pets are not permitted in the preserve or preserve facilities.

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