A Little Time and a Keyboard: Hike in Fullersburg Woods

Hike in Fullersburg Woods

Friday, March 16, 2018

Fullersburg Woods nestled in Oak Brook, Illinois provides serene setting for hiking. We seized upon the glorious weather we enjoyed last weekend in the Chicago area and hiked the trails for the first time. We quickly learned that Fullersburg Woods has a lot to offer.

Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center

Our first stop was the Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center where we explored resources about the preserve and native wildlife. The nature center is actually a remnant of the Civilian Conservation Corps camp located there. There also is a woolly mammoth skeleton which is pretty cool and a bit of a hidden treasure.

Woolly Mammoth Skeleton -- a hidden treasure at Fullersburg Woods in Oak Brook, Illinois
Surprise! A woolly mammoth!
There are plenty of hands-on experiences for children inside the center including an eagle's nest. If you  need a break, there are places to sit down as well as a patio.

Eagle's nest play area

After a short visit, we began The Night Heron Trail. For a large portion of the trail, we walked along Salt Creek. With nature waking up for spring, we enjoyed views along the creek.

Meandering Salt Creek at Fullersburg Woods in Illinois
Meandering Salt Creek

Along the trail, we discovered Graue Mill which opened in 1852. The gristmill ground wheat, corn and other grains produced by local Illinois farmers. The basement of the mill is constructed of limestone quarried near Lemont. The bricks were made with clay from the farm.

Graue Mill in Oak Brook, Illinois in the early spring sun
Graue Mill in the early spring sun

The mill is currently not open and will reopen in mid-April. I look forward to returning and exploring the mill. The mill was a station on the Underground Railroad, so I can't wait to learn more about the history.

Historic Graue Mill in Fullersburg Woods Oak Brook, Illinois
Historic Graue Mill

The neighboring Graue House was constructed in 1858-1859 and is an example of early Victorian "Italianate" architecture. The home is currently used for events and museum offices. Elegant indeed!

The early Victorian Graue House in Oak Brook, Illinois
The early Victorian Graue House

Near the mill is the dam where you can see a lovely waterfall. This spot is a favorite for families. We also spotted a gentleman enjoying some fishing.

Waterfall at the dam in Fullersburg Woods

We savored our hike at Fullersburg Woods and can't wait to explore more trails. The preserve appears to be quite popular and after exploring, we can see why. The downside is that we did not see as many birds as we did on the quieter hike through Crabtree the day before. So, we will try to come earlier in the day next time.

Salt Creek

I have heard that Fullersburg Woods is a fantastic place to enjoy the fall colors. Hopefully, we can make it back in the fall at the right time so we can enjoy fall color magic!


  • Fullersburg Woods is dog friendly, so don't be afraid to bring Fido.
  • Visit on a day that Graue Mill is open and take a tour. (Unfortunately, a day without Fido!)
  • Take advantage of the informational signs around the preserve teaching about the ecology of the preserve.
  • Visit the Nature Education Center for some orientation.
  • In general, the trails are gentle with a little rolling in some areas. With proximity to the river, there is possibility for flooding.
  • Partake in other nature activities including fishing and kayaking.
  • Restrooms are easily accessible at the nature center.
Hiking in Fullersburg Woods in Oak Brook, Illinois

1 comment

  1. I can only imagine how this place looks in summer! Great find!