A Little Time and a Keyboard: 20 Chicago Suburbs Forest Preserves For Fall Colors

20 Chicago Suburbs Forest Preserves For Fall Colors

Thursday, October 5, 2023


20 Chicago Suburbs Forest Preserves For Fall Colors

After hiking many more fabulous trails in the Chicago suburban area, I have added to my list of Chicago suburban forest preserves to visit for fall colors! If you are looking for a fantastic forest preserve to enjoy fall colors, here are my favorites for Chicago suburbs fall color hikes along with some tips:

  • The Morton Arboretum: With a wide variety of trees, The Morton Arboretum is an easy pick for spotting fall colors throughout all of fall. Additionally, you can drive through the preserve and pick out spots where you would like to walk along the way.
  • River Trail Nature Center: River Trail Nature Center is really the first place I fell in love with fall in the Chicago suburbs. I remember hiking thinking I was walking through a rainbow.
  • Fox Bluff Conservation Area: Rolling trails and the rush of water through the forest add to the fall experience. Enjoy small waterfalls in spots with fall color accents.
  • Messenger Woods: We hiked Messenger Woods in Homer Glen for the first time last fall. Fall leaves dancing in the creek totally dazzled me. The landscape has some rolls to it adding to a wonderful fall experience.
  • Deer Grove Forest Preserve: Deer Grove's 1,800 acres forged from forest, wetlands and prairie offers a range of hikes with opportunities to enjoy fall colors. Plus, you can see how a variety of ecosystems change throughout fall as well.
  • Blackwell Forest Preserve: Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville features several lakes and ponds that are beautifully set when fall colors surround them. A variety of trails welcome visitors but we especially enjoyed the more rugged natural footpath.
  • Ryerson Conservation Area: Walking along the Des Plaines River at Ryerson Conservation Area treats to another fantastic experience with the ambiance of fall colors are around. Ryerson is one of my favorite spots to bird, so keep your eyes out especially during migration!
  • Tekakwitha Woods Forest Preserve: Tekakwitha Woods Forest Preserve nestled along the Fox River features picturesque ravines and a dense forest that will just be quite divine when ablaze with fall colors.
  • Camp Pine Woods: Camp Pine Woods is one of those little treasures along the Des Plaines River in Mount Prospect that is so easily missed! However, the maples here create such a beautiful wonderland during fall.
  • The Grove: The Grove in Glenview is one of our favorite spots to spot deer in the forest. Additionally, The Grove features historic buildings offer a special opportunity for interesting fall pictures. I often find that The Grove is beautiful with the paintbrush of fall even late into the season after peak color.
  • Chicago Botanic Garden: Similar to Morton Arboretum, Chicago Botanic Garden features a range of plants and trees ranging from those found locally and in other regions. Therefore, throughout the season you will spy spectacular fall changes.
  • Crabtree Nature Center: Barrington's Crabtree Nature Center treats fall hikers to a variety of fall sights with its range of ecosystems including woodlands, wetlands and prairie.
  • Reed-Turner Woodland Nature CenterThe ravines at Reed-Turner Woodland Nature Center craft breathtaking scenery in all seasons but particularly in fall!
  • Coral Woods: As a maple forest, Coral Woods can delight with dancing and vibrantly colored maple leaves. 
  • Fullersburg Woods: Fullersburg Woods encompasses the tree lined Salt Creek. Fall colors on the creek -- magical!  When we hike there, we like to take the longer loop for a quieter hike.
  • Glenview Woods: As part of the larger Harms Woods, Glenview Woods features winding footpaths that spiral off of the North Branch Trail. The treelined path includes a stretch along the North Branch of the Chicago River adding an extra opportunity for unique views.
  • Openlands Lakeshore Preserve: Last fall marked my first fall adventure to Openlands Lakeshore Preserve perched above Lake Michigan. I quite enjoyed using fall colors to frame Lake Michigan. Blazes of red, orange and yellow painted fantastic scenes in the preserve.
  • St. James Farm: St. James Farm ushers fall color revelers for another unique experience enjoying fall leaves on a farm dotted with art. St. James Farm really is a distinctive property providing for an interesting fall adventure.
  • Bliss Woods: A hike in Bliss Woods in fall combines the magic of fall colors with a unique geologic feature -- an esker! While hiking, you will note this special glacial remnant rising above.
  • Hoover  Woods: Hoover Woods presented us with picturesque views of fall-colored trees along the Fox River. 

Tips for Leaf Peeping:
  • Keep an eye out on social media for leaf changes. Fall colors arrive and disappear rapidly, so you will want to make sure you are following the latest fall color reports.
  • Follow live, in real time fall color reports. There are some "predictions" that are posted way too early. Follow the people that are active and observing nature often.
  • Watch the weather forecast -- if a lot of rain is ahead try to get out BEFORE that. The rain may knock those pretty leaves straight out of the trees.
  • Dress for the weather and wear layers. 
  • Observe another natural elements that will be revealed by dropping leaves -- nests, tree burls, interesting tree shapes, and more.
  • Bring plenty of water and snack so you can explore for awhile! Maybe carry tea or coffee if it will be crisp out.

  • 20 Chicago Suburbs Forest Preserves For Fall Colors and for Chicago Fall Color Hikes

Post a Comment