McDonald Woods

WHERE IS THIS?
19611 West Grass Lake Road
Lindenhurst,IL 60046
Acerage:
308 acres
Hours:
6:30 am–sunset, daily.

McDonald Woods

Behold the gentle, rolling grassy terrain of this scenic preserve. The dips and rises here were formed by the advance and retreat of immense ice chunks during the last ice age. When the weather warmed, grasslands dominated. In autumn, big bluestem and switch grass turn amber brown and yellow, swaying to the music of the wind.

Trails

McDonald Woods is a perfect place to hike, bike and cross-country ski. Trails here also connect to our regional Millennium Trail and provide access to the Grass Lake Road Bike Path and several other neighboring communities and parks. 

  • Gravel: 3.7 miles of trails wind around woods, wetlands and grasslands and are open for hiking, biking and cross-country skiing.
  • Woodchip: this 0.9-mile trail is open only for hiking and cross-country skiing and leads to a basswood and sugar maple forest, glowing yellow in autumn. Walk-in access to the preserve via the woodchip trail is available on Beck Road, however, roadside parking is not permitted there. 

A pedestrian tunnel beneath Grass Lake Road offers safe crossing for trail users and connects trails at McDonald Woods to local parks, schools, residential areas and busineses. The underpass is part of a network of trails built and funded in large part by federal and state grants and in partnership with Lindenhurst Park District, Village of Lindenhurst and Lake Villa Township. 

Please keep dogs leashed and on trails at all times, and pick up after them. Learn about our off-leash Dog Parks (permit required).

Bonner Heritage Farm

Part of the larger preserve, Bonner Heritage Farm has a separate entrance on Sand Lake Road just west of Route 45. Turn north from Sand Lake Road onto Country Place. The parking lot is located on the right, just past the bend. Exhibits tell of the farm's historically significant structures. A portion of the main barn is among the oldest surviving intact great barns in Lake County. 

Activities

Amenities

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More About This Preserve

History

Acquired in the 1970s, the preserve was named after prior landowner, A. B. McDonald. He created a private nature preserve on roughly 295 acres in the 1940s, building three lakes and planting a pine grove and other trees. These habitats, along with the grasslands, provide homes for wildflowers and food, cover for birds and mammals, and respite for humans.

The Natural Scene

The restored grasslands, once fallow fields, are now teeming with native prairie plants such as gray-headed coneflowers, goldenrod, and the lavender-hued wild bergamot, called bee balm because it attracts hungry bees. Fall migrating butterflies, like monarchs, depend on the goldenrod's supply of nectar to fuel their long southerly journey.

The preserve's three lakes were restored into a series of wetlands, which are a favorite resting sport for a variety of waterfowl. An evergreen woods provides roosting places for chickadees and cardinals as well as birds of prey including Cooper’s hawk. Pine siskins, which pluck seeds from cones, occasionally spend winters here. Dark-eyed juncos hop on the snowy forest floor snatching seeds fallen from trees and shrubs.

In spring and summer listen for the rollicking sounds of bobolinks and the spring-of-the-year song of the eastern meadowlark as these grassland birds prepare for another breeding season.

Location

The entrance is on Grass Lake Road, just west of Route 45 and east of Route 83.

McDonald Woods also provides trailhead parking for the Millennium Trail at Bonner Heritage Farm on Sand Lake Road just west of Route 45 and connections to a section of the Millennium Trail that runs along Route 45.

From Bonner Farm, the 1.9-mile section of Millennium Trail that runs north through McDonald Woods is open for hiking, biking and cross-country skiing and has benches along the way for resting and wildlife observation. Trail users can also head south on the Millennium Trail through Fourth Lake and Rollins Savanna forest preserves to extend their recreation experience. View our interactive trail map for the full route.

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