Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve: A Complete Guide to Illinois’ Most Ecologically Impressive Preserve

Oct 23, 2020 04:30 PM

Photo by Tom Gill from Flickr
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Tripboba.com - Located in southern DuPage County, Illinois, Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve is a 2,503-acre forest preserve featuring prairies, savannas, and oak-maple woodlands with 740 native plant species and 300 species of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles and another 300 of invertebrates.

This ecological parcel of open space is mostly known for its Rocky Glen waterfall, Sawmill Creek bluff overlook, and extensive trails that attract hikers, bicyclists, horseback riders, and cross-country skiers alike. The site also offers a fishing and orienteering course, model airplane field, and youth group campground to enjoy.

So, what are you waiting for? Experience boundless recreational activities at the park with our complete guide!

Waterfall Glen County Forest Preserve

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve address and directions

Photo by Scott from Flickr

The address to this forest preserve is 3S580 Naperville Road, Wheaton, IL 60189. The main entrance is on Northgate Road. From I-55, take Cass Avenue 0.5 mile south to Northgate Road. Turn right on Northgate and go 400 feet to the lot.

To reach the Rocky Glen waterfall parking lot, take Cass Avenue 1.5 miles south of Northgate Road to Bluff Road. Take Bluff Road 0.3 mile east to the lot. A third parking lot is on the east side of Lemont Road at 101st Street, 1 mile south of I-55.

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve natural highlights

Photo by Tom Gill from Flickr

The Bluff Savanna roughly covers the southern part of the preserve between Argonne National Laboratory and the Des Plaines River. It contains 422 native plant species, including one state threatened and 36 of special concern. Individual black and white oaks, shagbark and bitternut hickories, and black walnuts range from 180 to 215 years old and are some of the oldest in the county.

The 120-acre Poverty Prairie is a stable, diverse community with more than 339 native plant species and resident animals from meadowlarks and gray catbirds to western harvest mice. This dry prairie contains several native kinds of grass, including poverty oat grass, which gives the area its name.

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve best hikes Chicago and other activities at the extensive trails

Photo by Michael Kappel from Flickr

Hikers, bicyclists, horseback riders, and cross-country skiers can enjoy some of Waterfall Glen’s most scenic areas via four mapped trails containing almost 11 miles of limestone- and turf-covered routes. Hikers can explore the narrow, unmarked footpaths that crisscross through Waterfall Glen.

Always remember that the unmarked paths are not on the map and may not connect with mapped trails. If you prefer biking, note that you should ride only on designated bike trails.

For horseback riders, you should park your trailers in designated spots at the trailhead on Northgate Road (parking is not allowed at the Lemont Road lot). Note that riding is not allowed in developed recreational areas, including campground.

In winter, experience cross-country skiing at the groomed trails. Classical-style skiers should use the set tracks on the outside of the trail, leaving the inside for freestyle skiers and other trail users.

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve fishing

Photo by spierson82 from Flickr

Waterfall Glen Forest makes a great spot for several old quarries scattered throughout the preserve offer still fishing waters. It’s important to note that anglers 16 or older who are not legally disabled must carry valid Illinois fishing licenses. For more information on creel limits, minimum lengths, etc., visit the park’s Fishing page on their official website.

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve camping

Photo by Shin-Shin Lin from Flickr

Waterfall Glen's youth-group campground has two sites that can each accommodate up to 24 campers. But, the park’s youth camping is exclusive for the youth groups, which are defined as recognized, nonprofit organizations whose members are 17 or younger, accompanied by adult supervision of one leader 21 or older for every 10 children. 

The sites are open year-round and have portable toilets, trash and recycling containers, water pumps, picnic tables, fire rings, and a limited supply of firewood (outside firewood is not allowed). Only the cabin has electricity.

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve map

For a closer look of Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve and its amenities, here’s the map of the site:

Hotel near Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

Photo by Aloft Bolingbrook on Google Maps

If you’re not quite fan of camping, there are some nearby hotels to stay the night at. In a residential area off I-355, Aloft Bolingbrook hotel is 1.7 miles from Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, 2 miles from Cypress Cove Family Aquatic Park, and 12 miles from Bolingbrook Golf Club.

This relaxed hotel offers casual rooms with flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, minifridges, and tea and coffeemaking facilities, as well as desks with ergonomic chairs. Suites add seating areas with sofas.

The airy lobby-lounge has check-in kiosks, a fireplace and a billiards table. There's also a contemporary cocktail bar, a 24/7 fitness center and an indoor pool. Free parking is available, and there are also meeting rooms and a business center.

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