The 531-acre McKinley Woods was acquired between 1931 and 2004.
McKinley Woods has two access areas, both in Channahon: Frederick's Grove and Kerry Sheridan Grove.
The preserve is part of the Des Plaines River preservation system, which conserves more than 2,400 acres. Prior to the District's acquisition of the land, it was a private resort and was commonly called "Moose Island." The Frederick's Grove Shelter is a remnant of a Civilian Conservation Corps camp that was built on the site.
McKinley Woods protects a diversity of habitats, including forest, prairie, wetland and a portion of the Des Plaines River.
Wildlife found at the preserve includes the queen snake and 99 bird species, such as the cedar waxwing, bald eagle and purple martin.
The preserve is also home to a variety of plant species, including redbud, blue ash and chinquapin oak.
The site is managed with invasive species control, prescribed burning and habitat restoration to protect and enhance its natural resources.
Amenities and activities
Frederick's Grove features 2.35 miles of natural surface trails, ideal for hiking/running. Of these, 1.59 miles are also ideal for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. A portion of the Riverbend Lookout Trail – .36 mile of the total .54-mile loop – has been closed due to unsafe conditions caused by dead and dying ash trees along the path. The section of the path that remains open allows access to the Upland Trail, a .26-mile loop.
Frederick's Grove also provides access to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' 61.5-mile, crushed limestone I&M Canal State Trail.
Kerry Sheridan Grove features 0.56 mile of natural surface trails, ideal for the following activities:
- Cross-country skiing
Kerry Sheridan Grove also provides access to 1.91 miles of paved trails, ideal for the following activities:
- In-line skating
- Cross-country skiing
A new, paved All-Persons Trail includes textured strips for sight impaired visitors, trailside kiosks and panels that interpret different habitats, and wayfinding signs to make the site more user friendly.
Frederick's Grove offers four primitive campsites for family or group rental, with a permit capacity of six people per site. The campsites are on flat terrain in full shade to full sun and provide access to grills, fire pits and latrines. Two of the campsites are on natural surface terrain and two are on concrete pads and are ADA accessible. The campsites are unavailable for rental from November 1 through April 15 each year for safety and maintenance.
McKinley Woods offers three picnic shelters for rental:
- Frederick’s Grove Shelter, which has a permit capacity of 30 people. Frederick's Grove Shelter is unavailable for rental from November 1 through April 15 each year for safety and maintenance.
- Kerry Sheridan Grove Shelter, which has a permit capacity of 90 people.
- Riverbend Lookout Shelter, at Frederick's Grove, which has a permit capacity of 50 people.
Both Frederick's Grove and Kerry Sheridan Grove offer access to shoreline fishing on the Des Plaines River and I&M Canal. State and District regulations apply.
Frederick's Grove features canoe/kayak launches on the Des Plaines River and I&M Canal, and Kerry Sheridan Grove has a canoe/kayak launch on the DuPage River. No launch pass is required.
Permits are available for geocaching at McKinley Woods.
Kerry Sheridan Grove features Four Rivers Environmental Education Center, which offers an exhibit gallery with engaging displays on mussels, river fish and the birds that flock to McKinley Woods preserve as well as nature education opportunities for the public, school groups and youth groups, public programs and facility rentals. Four Rivers Environmental Education Center is open to the public free of charge. It also offers picnic, camping and dog park permits for purchase.