| Story by Meghan McMahon |
Rock Run Preserve in Joliet can be a bustling place. The trail that runs through the preserve — the Rock Run Greenway Trail — draws people to the area all year long for all kinds of recreational activities.
Rock Run Preserve has two access points. Black Road Access and Paul V. Nichols Access off Essington Road are both located in Joliet. Both access areas provide an easy connection to the trail, and the preserve can also be traveled to by foot from several nearby neighborhoods.
“This preserve is great for families in general but especially for families who have a wide range of ages,” said Jess McQuown, an interpretive naturalist for the Forest Preserve District. “You can have a nice, short walk along the main, paved trail or you can add in some of the natural surface trails to expand the hike when older kids want to see more.”
Rock Run is also only a short trip from Hammel Woods in Shorewood, now easily accessible via a paved trail that spans the DuPage River and Interstate 55 and connects the DuPage River Trail and the Rock Run Greenway Trail.
The land for Rock Run Preserve was acquired between 1990 and 2009. The preserve itself is 320 acres and is part of the Rock Run preservation system, which conserves more than 1,450 acres in all. A portion of the preserve totaling 168 acres was registered as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, providing permanent protection of the site’s natural resources.
One of the draws at Rock Run is that there is a lot to see and explore, but it’s not so big that it is overwhelming or unmanageable for visitors.
“With everything looping together, the preserve can feel large without having to hike miles out just to turn around and do the same thing again,” said McQuown, who has held programs at the preserve and also enjoyed it personally.
Wildlife and habitats