A Little Time and a Keyboard: 11 Top Chicago Area Hiking Spots for Spring Wildflowers

11 Top Chicago Area Hiking Spots for Spring Wildflowers

Monday, March 4, 2024

11 Top Chicago Area Hiking Spots for Spring Wildflowers

Spring Wildflowers in the Chicago Suburbs

The season for spotting wildflowers is upon us! After many years exploring our Chicago area forest preserves, I have a number that I prefer when looking for spring wildflowers. I love to see the progression of the wildflowers throughout the season. Wildflowers are certainly little treasures! Here are some ideas for your spring wildflower adventures:

Hope You Enjoy These Top 11 Chicago Area Wildflower Hikes

Ryerson Conservation Area: Ryerson Conservation Area remains one of my favorite local forest preserves for wildflowers. The Riverwoods preserve delights with many wildflowers throughout the season including prairie trillium and white trillium.

Heller Nature Center: This Highland Park nature preserve surprised me with its wealth of wildflowers. Discovering patches of graceful white trout lilies dazzled me on one of our first visits to Heller Nature Center

Reed-Turner Woodland Nature Center: Located in Long Grove, Reed-Turner Woodland Nature Center offers a beautiful ravine system to explore while looking for spring wildflowers. This preserve is one of my favorites to visit all year round.

Chicago Botanic Garden: Native wildflowers can be discovered in multiple sections of Chicago Botanic Garden including the Native Plant Garden and Spider Island. McDonald Woods provides another opportunity to spot native spring wildflowers. Nestled in Glencoe, Chicago Botanic Garden offers trails highlighting a variety of flora in every season. At the entrance, you will find information about what is in bloom to help along your journey.

Morton Arboretum: I love Morton Arboretum for any season specific nature adventures because their diverse collection of trees, plants, and flowers more likely ensures you may find what you are looking for -- you just may need to investigate different sections. Morton Arboretum is located in Lisle.

Remember Check This List for Top Chicago Area Hiking Trails

Lyman Woods Nature Center: Located in Downers Grove, Lyman Woods Nature Center enthralled me one cold spring day with a wonderful carpet of woodland wildflowers. The preserve has some rolling trails which provided another delightful surprise. The rolling trails are a result of glacial deposits including the three kames - glacially deposited gravel hills -- at the site.

River Trail Nature Center: Hugging the Des Plaines River in Northbrook, the trails of River Trail Nature Center lead visitors through peaceful woodlands replete with nature observations to behold in every season. In fact, we visited on one of the coldest days this year to stretch our legs a bit knowing that we would likely see a variety of birds -- which we did! In spring, River Trail Nature Center offers a tableau of spring wildflowers and, of course, many birds to observe! 

Harms Woods Forest Preserve: Harms Woods offers a variety of hiking trails in Cook County. At 342 acres, Harms Woods Forest Preserve features a variety of parcels each with its own natural charm. Bisected by the North Branch of the Chicago River, the preserve presents hiking trails in and near Skokie and Glenview. Spring wildflowers are noted throughout, however, my favorite parcel is Glenview Woods.

Messenger Woods Nature Preserve: The woodlands of Messenger Woods Forest Preserve paint a magical natural world along Will County hiking trails. Wildflower season adds more dazzle in the beautiful woodlands. Spring Creek adds another level of fascinating nature to this Homer Glen forest preserve.

Moraine Hills State Park: Moraine Hills State Park is another preserve that is fabulous in all seasons. The preserve offers a hilly perspective to northern Illinois hiking as a result of a moraine created by receding glaciers. The McHenry state park is always alive with flora and fauna in a rolling landscape.

Paul Douglas Woods Forest Preserve: Paul Douglas Woods offers natural trails that wander into the woodlands yielding an opportunity to view spring woodland wildflowers. Additionally, Paul Douglas Woods offers wetlands for viewing waterfowl and has an osprey nesting platform. The Hoffman Estates forest preserve has become one of our favorite discoveries.

11 Top Chicago Area Hiking Spots for Spring Wildflowers


  1. River Trail Nature Center is one of my favorite places to visit. If I lived nearby I would be there constantly. The feeders outside the nature center attract so many birds, plus the cutest chipmunks!

    1. Right, so no matter the weather there is something to see!