Middlefork Savanna

1401 Middlefork Drive
Lake Forest,IL 60045
687 acres
6:30 am–sunset, daily.

Middlefork Savanna

Home to a rare tallgrass savanna, Middlefork Savanna features a mix of oak savanna and woodlands, wet and mesic prairies, sedge meadows and marshes. Middlefork provides valuable protection for many state and federally listed species. A 25-acre parcel here is considered the highest quality tallgrass savanna of its kind in the nation and recognized as a globally threatened ecosystem.


There are 5.5 miles of gravel trails here for hiking and cross-country skiing, and 4.2 miles for biking. Two boardwalks on the trail help protect sensitive wetland areas. 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 short 0.5-mile mowed grass path is open for hiking and cross-country skiing only. Dogs are not allowed on the grass trail here.



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More About This Preserve

The Natural Scene

Once part of a large glacial lake, Middlefork Savanna provides safe harbor for endangered plant and wildlife species, and several environmentally sensitive wetlands that feed into the North Branch of the Chicago River. Chicago Wilderness has identified Middlefork Savanna as one of the most important sites for biodiversity in northeastern Illinois. Because of its size, Middlefork supports an impressive list of uncommon birds, butterflies and other species that require large open areas for survival. Middlefork also serves as a national ecological research site and outdoor classroom for universities, schools, and other organizations.


Middlefork Savanna was acquired in phases, starting with the original purchase of 43 acres in 1989. The latest acquisition of 52 acres in 2000 expanded our ownership of a valuable watershed and added a needed buffer to Middlefork Savanna.

In the late 1990s, a community advisory committee approved a plan for restoration and public access improvements and to establish Middlefork Savanna as a national ecological research site and outdoor classroom for universities, school and other organizations. The preserve opened to the public in summer 2002.


The entrance is on Waukegan Road (Route 43), north of Route 60 and south of Route 176.

Turn west onto Middlefork Drive. Proceed to the end of Middlefork Drive, bear left at the fork to enter the preserve parking area.