Lyons Woods is named for the Lyons family of Waukegan. Isaac Reed Lyons came here from Massachusetts in 1843. He owned a grocery and dry goods store in Waukegan and served as an alderman and township supervisor. Learn more »
Philip Blanchard was another notable owner of this land. Born in New York in 1804, he moved to the area when he was 33 years old and eventually became a Warren Township judge. During the Civil War, Blanchard is known to have assisted slaves in gaining their freedom through the underground railroad. It is quite possible that runaway slaves stayed at this Lyons Woods property on their way to Canada. In 1868, Blanchard donated his land for a schoolhouse, which stood at the corner of Sheridan and Blanchard Roads and operated until 1940. The building was later used as a tavern.
Other early landowners include Alson Smith Sherman, who was mayor of Chicago in 1844, and Asiel Blodgett, who was a captain in the Civil War and later mayor of Waukegan. Around 1940, George Pavlik acquired land at the preserve's southeast corner and established the nursery that gave rise to the evergreen grove now seen near the parking lot. Pavlik had an unusual passion for pine trees. Pines eventually became popular and his were sought after for projects at places ranging from estates in Lake Forest to the Air Force Academy in Colorado.
This land was acquired as a forest preserve in parcels between 1976 and 1986. Trails and parking opened here in 1996. They were made possible by voter support of a Forest Preserve referendum.
The Natural Scene
Lyons Woods is diverse, supporting prairie, savanna, woodland and fen. In the prairie, you’ll find such plants as dropseed, big bluestem and goldenrod. The woods support large stands of white, bur and black oaks. Learn more »
Five of the states endangered species take refuge here; one is so rare its existence in the nation is threatened. Our ecologists and volunteers give special attention to these species, but also work hard to protect and restore the preserve's many habitats. Over 1,000 native trees and shrubs have been planted here. Several techniques are used to keep non-native species at bay, such as controlled burning and selective clearing.
Lyons Woods is a birder’s paradise. Many warblers nest here, including the common yellowthroat, the blue-winged warbler and the ovenbird. In winter, the evergreen grove near the parking lot often shelters several birds not normally seen this far south, like the long-eared owl. Once a tree nursery, the evergreens are not native to this area.
The entrance is on Blanchard Road, just west of Sheridan Road and south of Yorkhouse Road.