Posts Tagged ‘Dupage Forest Preserves’

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

We took a nice long hike this past weekend at Blackwell Forest Preserve. Although it was hot, we were able to hike along meadows, in the coolness of a few forests and along Silver Lake and the McKee Marsh.

Map of Southern section of Blackwell Forest Preserve. image by J. Porys.

Map of Northern section of Blackwell Forest Preserve. Image by J.Porys.

According to the DuPage Forest Preserve Site: The Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville is located on land that the retreating Wisconsin Glacier shaped 12,000 to 15,000 years ago. The glacier’s meltwaters left behind much of the soil that covers DuPage County today. After the glacier’s retreat, savannas with widely spaced oak trees formed on the higher ground while the lower-lying ground became home to marsh and prairie plants.

McKee Marsh. Image by Sue Shekut.

And we found out that the 13,000-year-old skeletal remains of a wooly mammoth were found within the marsh area many years ago.

Woolley Mammoth remains found in Blackwell Forest Preserve area. Image by Sue Shekut.

Blackwell offers boats for rent and has many campgrounds of Youth activities and family camping and picnicking events.

Rent a boat at Silver Lake in Blackwell and enjoy the day! Image by Sue Shekut.

You can rent canoes, kayaks and rowboats for use on Silver Lake by the hour or the day at Blackwell’s boat-rental area.  Oars, paddles and personal flotation devices are provided for rentals only and cannot be rented separately for use in private watercraft.

The boat-rental area is open weekends from the beginning of April through the end of September from 8 a.m. until sunset. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, it is also open Mondays through Fridays from 11 a.m. until sunset.

Boats for rent in Silver Lake in Blackwell. Image by Sue Shekut.

There is no swimming allowed in Silver Lake though and I wouldn’t want to swim in it.

The fish can swim all they want but not us humans in Silver Lake! Image by Sue Shekut.

It’s too full of algae!

Future biodiesel source in Silver Lake? Image by J. Porys.

Still the cool lake water did provide us with some relief from the heat. Any many happy boaters paddled along the still lake waters the day we hiked there.

Silver Lake in Blackwell Forest Preserve. Image by Sue Shekut.

It’s OK to fish in Silver Lake where you can catch bluegill, catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, northern pike, rainbow trout and walleye.

Fishing at Silver Lake. Image by Sue Shekut.

After Hiking a few miles in the hot sun, the forest provided welcome cool relief! Image by Sue Shekut.

Blackwell Forests offer a visual cornicopiia of colorful berries! Image by J. Porys.

As the sun began to set, Silver Lake became Mirror Lake in Blackwell. Image by Sue Shekut.

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By Sue Shekut, LMT, ACSM PT, Certified Wellness Coach

There is still time to enjoy the fall colors and get a bit of healthy hiking in this fall. Throw on a few layers of clothes, a good pair of hiking shoes, a camel back for water and grab a few LARABARs and you are ready to hike Waterfall Glen in the Chicago area!


Waterfal Glen

Waterfall Glen is one of the DuPage County Forest Preserves. It rings Argonne labs and offers hikers, bikers, fishermen (and women), horseback riders and picnickers a chance to get away from the sounds, smells and traffic in the city. Being in nature has a stress relieving effect and exercise is good for stress management as well.

According to researchers at Cornell University: “Our study finds that life’s stressful events appear not to cause as much psychological distress in children who live in high-nature conditions compared with children who live in low-nature conditions,” says Nancy Wells, assistant professor of design and environmental analysis in the New York State College of Human Ecology at Cornell. “And the protective impact of nearby nature is strongest for the most vulnerable children — those experiencing the highest levels of stressful life events.”

From the Waterfall Glen website:

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve has w glacier-formed ridges, ravines and potholes. The preserve is exceptional, because it contains features not found anywhere else in the county: The largest contiguous woodland block – over 700 acres — and a dolomite prairie, with rock very close to the surface and shallow soil, home to rare plants for the region.


Fall Colors at Argonne/Waterfall Glen

Waterfall Glen’s many habitats — prairies, savannas, oak-maple woodlands and planted pine groves – and distinctive features make it a haven for a wide variety of plants and animals. Surveys by District ecologists have recorded more than 600 native plant species at the preserve, which includes 75 per cent of all the plants known to grow naturally in DuPage County. In addition, countless fish, amphibian, reptilian, and mammalian species can be found in the preserve, as well as more than 160 avian species, some year-round and some migrating.


Cyclists are invited to use any of the preserve’s eight-foot-wide multipurpose trails, although they are asked to stay toward the outside of the trails as a courtesy to other visitors. To prevent damage to sensitive natural areas, cycling on trails less than eight feet wide is prohibited.


Several old quarries scattered throughout the preserve offer still fishing waters. All persons 16 and older (except legally disabled persons) are required to have in their possession a valid Illinois sport fishing license. All anglers must follow District and state regulations.

Horseback Riding

In addition to the main trail loop, Waterfall Glen offers trails suitable for horseback riding throughout the preserve. Visitors with trailers should park in the designated parking bays at the trailhead on Northgate Road.

Model Aircraft Area

A large open field in the southwest section of the preserve is a popular spot for local model aircraft enthusiasts. For more information on access to this area or use by qualified model aircraft clubs, contact Visitor Services at (630) 933-7248.


Visitors are welcome to spread a blanket and enjoy a picnic in the mowed grass areas at Waterfall Glen. Ground fires are not permitted, except in the fire ring at the trailhead area.


Waterfall Glen’s four marked trails range from 0.2 miles to 9.5 miles in length and meander through some of the preserve’s most scenic areas. The main trail is an eight-foot-wide crushed-limestone multipurpose trail. In addition, there are many unmarked mowed-grass trails and footpaths that dissect the preserve. Feel free to hike and explore these smaller, less-conspicuous paths, but remember that they often are not linked to the main trail nor are they shown on the preserve map.


River at Waterfall Glen

To find out more about Waterfall Glen go to the DuPage Country Forest Preserve Website here.

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By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

Some people go to the gym to workout, which is great. These days, between working many hours and long commutes, it’s tough to find time to workout and relax and still spend time with your loved ones. Why not combine your fitness routine with a little nature, add your family and or friends and explore the peace and fresh air afforded you by spending time in the forest.

In the Chicago area, there are approximately 50-60 different forest preserve trails within an hour or so of the downtown area. Many people enjoy the lakefront, but that’s the problem–many people. If you want a quieter bike ride, hike or even a horseback ride, the Forest Preserves are less crowded, much more wooded and often actually quiet!

Biking in the Forest Preserves
Biking in the Forest Preserves can be a great workout and a nice way to relax, enjoy the company of family and friends and see something other than buildings, concrete and cars. Speed training or racing is not permitted so you are less likely to get run over by a fast-paced bike racer!

Biking in the Forest Preserves

Families with small children can take their little ones along on bike rides with a bike trailer such as the Childrens bike trailers shown here.

On one our of forest preserve bike rides, we came across a family that brought along the bikes for mom and dad and the eldest daughter, then packed up their two little girls in the bike trailer for the dad to pull. In this way, the whole family got to ride together and dad got a super workout (especially up hills!)

Family fun on bikes in the Forest

Info on bike carrier safety for children here.

Cook County Forest Preserves
Cook County Forest Preserves provides 100 miles of paved bicycle trails and over 200 miles of multi-use trails in the Forest Preserve for bikers, joggers, walkers (and in winter, snow shoe-ers and cross country skiers!) to enjoy. Cook County Trail System Maps here.

And did you know that in Cook County, there are 27 lakes, ponds, quarries, reservoirs and sloughs to enjoy! Check out the listing of water sources in Cook County here.

View of Lake from biking trail

DuPage Forest Preserves
DuPage Forest Preserves offer over 145 miles of on-foot explorations from seldom-traveled footpaths to wide limestone trails.

DuPage Forest Preserves trail listing and hiking maps here.

DuPage County Forest Preserve Locator Map here.

Lake County Forest Preserves
Lake County Forest Preserves offers Forest Fitness sessions which are “Fast-paced group fitness hikes feature a different preserve each week.” For more info click here.

Lake County Forest Preserves Map here.

Will County Forest Preserves

Will Country Forest Preserves trail system list.

Will County trail Systems Map here.

Where ever you live, there are likely forest preserves and national parks in your area. Take advantage of this free (no membership needed!) natural gym for you and your family. And get your fitness in the forest!

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