Take a Hike: Five Places to Explore Nature Around Chicago

By: Emma McVady

Forest Preserves Around Chicago

Swallow Cliff Woods

These woods are home to the famous limestone staircase that guests use as a recreational space. The 125 limestone stairs lead to the beautiful rich woods at the top. There is a trail in the forest that stretches for miles, so there is plenty of space for a nice walk or run. Below the woods stands a tall bluff that was once home to a sledding toboggan but is now greenspace. If you are into fitness, this is the perfect outdoor escape for you. Test out their challenging stairs and enjoy the gorgeous trail that winds through the woods.

Waterfall Glen

This striking nature trail park is an amazing summer destination. With a collection of path routes, you can try out different directions and explore new territory. The paths lead up to a stream with a bustling waterfall at the end of it. The stream and waterfall are home to innocent wildlife, like turtles, minnows, crawfish, and more. If you love to go fishing, Waterfall Glen could be a fun destination for you. This is also a wonderful spot for biking and running!

Dan Ryan Woods

These woods are in the City of Chicago, but you’d think you were in another state! This preserve brings nature into an urban south side area. Great for a workout, these woods are also home to their very own fitness staircase, along with bike paths that loop through the woods. The forest borders along the well-known Western Ave. and is perfect for a nature stop.

Indiana Dunes

Although the dunes are in Indiana, they are so worth the trip! This destination is a great nature spot for a hot summer day! Take a walk through the tall sandy dune trails and take a dip in Lake Michigan after you work up a sweat. A calm beach day is a great way to enjoy the Indiana Dunes. It is family friendly and loads of fun! Next time you are craving some waves, make the Indiana Dunes your go-to destination.

Morton Arboretum

Recording over 4,000 unique and different tree and plant species, Morton Arboretum is incredibly diverse. This lush destination is a thriving spot for nature. With 16 miles of trails, it is a great place to stroll and enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature. Right near Lisle, the Arboretum is just a short trip away. Nature lovers should add this green heaven to their bucket list.

*Due to the ever-changing conditions of COVID, please check with individual businesses for hours, safety information, and potential closures.