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Don't hibernate, recreate this winter!

A person snowshoeing.

Instead of hibernating this winter, take advantage of the multiple recreational opportunities that the Forest Preserve District has to offer.

With 135 miles of trails, 40 improved preserves, two sled hills, six-off leash dog parks, campgrounds and indoor, outdoor and online programs, there is no excuse for being inactive this winter. 

So, get outside to soak in some vitamin D and absorb the beauty of nature to boost your physical and mental health.

Here are some Forest Preserve winter rec basics:

Hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing

Hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are allowed on all trails. The trails are not plowed after a snowfall so winter activity enthusiasts can enjoy sliding on skis or stepping through the snowflakes. For more information, visit the Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing pages.

Sledding and ice skating

The 40-foot sled hill at Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve will be open for the season on Dec. 1 and sledding is allowed when snow conditions are conducive. You  can bring your own tube or rent one for $2 at Plum Creek Nature Center. Call the nature center at 708-946-2216 for snow condition updates. Call that number, too, to see if the ice is thick enough for ice skating on Snapper Pond. The ice has to be at least 6 inches thick before ice skating will be allowed on the pond. Skaters have to bring their own gear.

Forked Creek Preserve – Butcher Lane Access in Wilmington features a natural 30-foot hill ideal for sledding in the winter. The area is not supervised or monitored for snow conditions, and visitors must bring their own sledding equipment to this site.

Dog parks

Your dog can enjoy winter with you by playing in the Forest Preserve District's six dog parks, which remain open year-round for off-leash canine play. Permits are required for dog park use. (Dogs must be leashed on all trails outside of the dog parks and dogs are not allowed in nature preserves with natural surface trails.) 


Camping is allowed year-round, except for the campground at McKinley Woods – Frederick's Grove, which is closed Nov. 1 due to the steep incline on the entrance road leading to it. Permits are required for camping and they must be obtained no less than two business days prior to the reservation.

Horseback riding

Horseback riding also is allowed in the winter on the District's 30-plus miles of equestrian trails including portions of the Plum Creek Greenway Trail, Spring Creek Greenway Trail and Wauponsee Glacial Trail. 

Outdoor, indoor and online programs 

In addition to the recreational activities listed above, there are many guided outdoor hiking and wildlife viewing programs that will help get you outside and moving all year long. For the most up to date list of programs, visit the Event Calendar. Programs include bird hikes, campfires, solstice celebrations, kids programs and a new Winter Walkers series. An afternoon hike will be held on each Saturday in January and February at different locations throughout the District. 


Trio of teen summer programs will include hiking and kayaking


Teenagers are invited to sign up for three summer programs that are designed specifically for them. Two Teen Connection programs and one kayaking program will be offered in July and August. Teens can connect with others and try something new. 

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Multimillion-dollar federal ecosystem restoration project protects Will County 'gem'


A ribbon-cutting was held on May 31 for an $8.3 million ecosystem restoration project at Prairie Bluff Preserve and Lockport Prairie Nature Preserve. The six-year Army Corps of Engineers' project restored and enhanced prairie and hydrology at the two sites. 

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