The buzz

Preserves We Love: Goodenow Grove, a hidden gem

A woman standing on a path in a forest.
(Photo by Anthony Schalk)

About this series: The Will County forest preserves mean many things to many people, including Forest Preserve District staff. Some of us enjoy the peace and tranquility of a particular preserve, while others among us enjoy the bustling feel of some of our more well-traveled trails. For some, the work we've done in the preserves is meaningful and fulfilling. "Preserves We Love" allows Forest Preserve staff to expound on their favorite preserve and why it's special to them. In this edition, facility office manager Marissa Jones tells us why Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve is such a special place.

So often I hear people say they never even knew Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve was here. Many of these people have lived in the area for years and either never went down Goodenow Road east of Route 394 or just drove on by without realizing what was here. That is one of the many things that I love about Goodenow Grove. It is kind of a hidden gem because it’s not really on the way to anything people go to often.

Once people find this place, they seem to fall in love with it. It’s hard not to, honestly. With its almost 900 acres and roughly 6 miles of trails, Goodenow Grove is a place to just relax and take in nature. You can enjoy the shade as you hike through the forest or soak up the sun as you follow a trail through a prairie. Down by Snapper Pond, you might even spot some frogs, snakes and turtles warming themselves in the sunshine.

You get to experience things at Goodenow Grove that you might not find in your own neighborhood or park. There are so many different plants and animals here. Where else can you listen for owls calling from the forest or search for salamanders and tadpoles in a vernal pond? If you reserve a campsite in the campground, you can even spend the night here so you can continue to explore after dark.      

You know that place you go to as a kid that you always want to go back to? That’s what Goodenow Grove is. I remember coming here for field trips as a kid and having such a great time. Years later, this preserve is thriving, and it is still a great place to visit. I have been bringing my son here to hike since he was a baby. Now Plum Creek Nature Center, aka Mommy’s work, is one of his favorite places to go, and he still loves to go hiking.

I encourage anyone who is looking to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life to come out here and enjoy the great outdoors for a little while. Spending time in nature has been shown to relieve stress and make people feel happier. Come out here and explore! I promise you it will be worth it.

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