The 891-acre Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve was acquired between 1938 and 2007.
The preserve is part of the Plum Creek preservation system, which conserves more than 2,300 acres.
Prior to the District's acquisition of the land, it was used as a Boy Scout camp.
A 541-acre portion of the site was dedicated as an Illinois Nature Preserve in 1996. This dedication provides permanent protection for the natural resources at the preserve.
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Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve protects a diversity of habitats, including forest, prairie, wetland and a portion of Plum Creek.
Wildlife found at the preserve includes several state-threatened or endangered animal species, such as the Kirtland's snake. The preserve also provides habitat for a variety of birds, including some that nest in birdhouses fitted with "Spy-On-A-Bird" cameras.
The feeders outside Plum Creek Nature Center also offer ample opportunities to do spot some of the wide variety of birds that call the preserve their home.
The preserve is also home to several state-threatened or endangered plant species, including the spotted coral-root orchid and ear-leafed foxglove.
The site is managed with invasive species control and prescribed burning to protect and enhance its natural resources. Learn more about the District's land management activities.
Amenities and Activities
Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve features 2.27 miles of natural surface trail, ideal for hiking/running, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
The preserve features 0.48 mile of paved trail, ideal for the following activities:
- Cross-Country Skiing
- Snowshoeing (snowshoe rentals available inside Plum Creek Nature Center)
In addition, the preserve provides access to the 3.15-mile, crushed limestone Plum Creek Greenway Trail, ideal for the following activities:
- Horseback Riding (trailer parking available on Goodenow Road, west of the preserve entrance)
- Cross-Country Skiing
The preserve offers two picnic shelters for rental: Meadow Lark Shelter (permit capacity of 150 people) and Plum Creek Shelter (permit capacity of 100 people). Learn more about picnic permits and fees.
The preserve offers a multifunctional campground consisting of 9 primitive campsites for families, small groups and large groups. The campsites are on flat to hilly terrain in full shade to full sun. Each campsite can accommodate up to six tents and includes a fire pit and picnic table. An accessible latrine and a water fountain are located nearby. No electrical hookup is available. Seven of the campsites are on natural surface terrain, one is on limestone screenings and one is on a concrete pad. The site surfaced with limestone and the concrete pad are ADA accessible. Learn more about camping permits, fees and equipment rental.
***Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, no tube rentals are available at Plum Creek Nature Center.***
The preserve features a 40-foot hill ideal for sledding in the winter. The sled hill opens for the season on December 1, providing conditions allow for sledding. Visitors may bring their own sleds, but no steel runners, snowboards or steerables are allowed. Sledding tubes are available for rental at the Plum Creek Nature Center when conditions allow. Learn more about sledding in the forest preserves.
The preserve features five miles of trails on which to snowshoe. The Plum Creek Nature Center offers snowshoes for rental.
The preserve features an ice skating pond that is open when proper conditions exist. Learn more about ice skating in the forest preserves.
Permits are available for geocaching at this preserve. Learn more about geocaching permits.
Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve features the Plum Creek Nature Center, which offers nature education opportunities for families, school groups and youth groups. A natural playscape around the nature center provides outdoor education experiences to visitors. The nature center is open to the public free of charge.