Oriole Grove

WHERE IS THIS?
Preserve parking and trail access is available at Lake Bluff Open Lands at 250 Rockland Road
Lake Bluff,IL 60044
Acerage:
86 acres
Hours:
6:30 am to sunset, daily.

Oriole Grove

Locally known as Jensen Woods, this 86-acre preserve straddles the Lake Forest–Lake Bluff border and connects two community natural areas.

Running along the length of the Skokie River, the preserve sits directly between Lake Bluff Open Lands Association’s (LBOLA) Skokie River Prairie to the north and Lake Forest Open Lands Association’s Skokie River Nature Preserve to the south. Visitors can access Oriole Grove from either of these two local natural areas.

Within Oriole Grove there are 1.35 miles of grass trails, making it a great place for hiking and cross-country skiing. Bikes are not permitted. Please keep dogs leashed and on trails at all times, and pick up after them. Learn about our off-leash Dog Parks (permit required).

Oriole Grove Master Plan Approved

On March 9, 2021, our Board of Commissioners approved a master plan for Oriole Grove. The approved plan is consistent with the master plan goals. It also reflects feedback received from staff, commissioners, key stakeholders and the public on improved public access and recreation experiences for people of all ages and abilities that are respectful of the sites sensitive natural resources. Read more about the project. 

Approved Master Plan  |   Executive Summary

Activities

Amenities

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More About This Preserve

History

The preserve was originally a private estate for rail magnate William V. Kelley, who purchased the property in the early 1900s from John Mines, an immigrant farmer from Ireland. Hired to design the landscape was Jens Jensen, one of the most significant landscape architects in Chicago history. He also designed the J. Ogden Armour estate, portions of which are now known as Middlefork Savanna Forest Preserve.

Preliminary_Sketch_Kelley_Estate

 Jen Jensen's preliminary sketch of the Kelley estate grounds.

The Natural Scene

The preserve includes an old growth oak-hickory woodland, which features a large grove of massive bur and white oaks estimated to be over 220 years old. There is also an oak-basswood woodland and two grassland areas with remnant and restored prairie, including “Birch Prairie.”

Jensen excavated the large kidney-shaped pond to match a smaller one next to Green Bay Road. The pond’s good water quality supports regionally uncommon fish.

The preserve serves as a keystone in a larger landscape of 240 acres of protected natural areas with Lake Bluff Open Lands, Lake Forest Open Lands and private landowners owning the rest. Approximately 40 acres are dedicated as State Nature Preserve status. 

Location

Parking is not available at Oriole Grove Forest Preserve.

Parking and trail access is available only from the Skokie River Prairie on Route 176, west of Green Bay Road in Lake Bluff, or the Skokie River Nature Preserve on the west end of Laurel Avenue, west of Green Bay Road in Lake Forest.

Please follow the rules specific to Lake Bluff Open Lands and Lake Forest Open Lands when using their properties.