Forest Preserve District of Cook County


Here's a just a few highlights of what the Forest Preserve District of Cook County has to offer.

The Elk Herd - The District owns a 14-acre elk herd enclosure (part of the Ned Brown preserve) at the intersection of Higgins Road (IL-72) and Arlington Heights Road in Elk Grove Village. Visitors might catch a glimpse of a large herd of elk out in the open field.

The Stairs at Swallow Cliff - Swallow Cliff Woods North features a set of 126 stairs favored by those looking for a nice workout in the southern Cook County forest preserves near Palos Township.

The Chicago Portage National Historic Site - The Chicago Portage National Historic Site is one of only two National Historic Sites in Illinois. Chicago owes its very existence as a city to the location of this site. The first European explorers recognized the importance of this short land connection between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Today, most Chicago area residents are unaware of its location, significance and long history in the development of our region.

The Chicago Portage National Historic Site is located in Portage Woods Forest Preserve on the west side of Harlem Avenue (Rt. 43) about two blocks north of the Stevenson Expressway (I-55) and Ottawa Trails Forest Preserve on the west side of Harlem on the north side of 47th Street in Lyons, Illinois.

Sagawau Canyon - Camp Sagawau Environmental Education Center's primary attraction is a canyon estimated to be 100,000 years old. The only exposed canyon of its kind in Cook County, it has been preserved so that it remains much as it has been since the retreat of the glacier. Formed of the region's bedrock dolomite limestone, the canyon provides a distinctive environment for wildlife. Visitors can expect to see unusual and uncommon plants, including bublet fern, purple cliff brake, hairy rock cress, and walking fern, and may catch a glimpse of animals such as long-tailed weasels and mink. Guided tours of the canyon are available.

300 Miles of Trails - The Forest Preserve District of Cook County offers its visitors 300 miles of trails for walking, running, bicycling and other compatible uses. 200 miles of the trail are unimproved, 100 miles are paved. For more information, see our bike trail maps:

Six Nature Centers - The District has six nature centers throughout the County. Our nature centers are, for children of all ages, their gateway into our County's ecology. From interpretive displays to live animals to knowledgeable naturalists, our nature centers are some of the Chicagoland region's best environmental education resources. Learn more about the centers here:

As part of our "68,000 Acres of Adventure" summer-long campaign, we will unveil our brand new promotional contest - a chance to win a Forest Preserve Family Four Pack. The four pack includes:

Four free passes to Brookfield Zoo (the District is the landowner of the Zoo); A free parking pass to the Chicago Botanic Garden (The District is the landowner of the Garden. They do not charge an admission fee.) One free foursome to any of our ten Forest Preserve District of Cook Coulaunty golf courses; One free voucher for a 2010 Forest Preserve District of Cook County family swim pass. The voucher is redeemable next summer for a pass that will allow a family of up to five individuals to swim free, all summer, at any of the District's three swimming pools.

There are three steps to join:

(1) Join our Forest Preserve District of Cook County facebook group and fan page, and

(2) Send an email to In the subjeparticipants should type "Contest Entry." The email should contain their name and valid mailing address.

(3)Those who have already joined those Facebook features need only send us the email.

(4) Our Web site is

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