Part of a new bi-weekly blog series!
Summer is finally here, and it’s time to enjoy the great outdoors! Hadley Valley Preserve is located just outside Chicago and it’s over 700 acres of trails, picnic groves, and plenty of restored natural habitat and wide open spaces. Since 2007 the Forest Preserves of Will County have restored more than 180 acres of native habitat, working in collaboration with Openlands, the US Army Corp of Engineers, the Illinois Tollway (I-355 Extension project), the City of Joliet, the Illinois DNR, and local development. Native plants and animals thrive in vast open prairie, savanna, and shaded woodland. Come for day in sun, soak up some vitamin D, and take in the sweet smell of early summer native wildflowers that are in bloom right now. Then come back again in August for the next round of native flowers that will be in bloom!
Hadley is just off of Interstate 355 and only about 40 miles from the Chicago loop. See a map here.
What can you do at Hadley Valley?
Hadley Valley is the place to go if you’re looking to for a variety of outdoor activities to do solo or with the whole family.
- Biking, Hiking, and Running: What to get some exercise? The soft rustling of the trees will be much more relaxing than the zooming and honking of cars in the city. Enjoy over 8 miles of crushed limestone trail along the native ecosystems in the preserve. The western segment is linear and travels 5.01 miles, while the eastern segment is hillier and travels 3.44 miles. Take your pick on difficulty level! Or go through the whole preserve, the paths are connected.
- Picnicking: Pick a bright sunny day to bring you family and friends and enjoy a day under a shady picnic shelter. The site at Hadley is available for rental with a capacity of 100 people. Permits are required for groups of 25 or more. Learn more here.
- Horseback Riding: The preserve’s over 8 mile trail welcomes equestrian riders. Trailer parking is available.
- Go on a Reconnect with Nature Walk on September 10th: Whether you’re training for a 5k, 10K, or just looking to go outside and get moving, these free Nature Walks could be for you. The Hadley Valley Nature Walk is scheduled for Saturday, September 10thRegistration is not required and all participants will receive a giveaway to take home!
- Explore: Bring a guidebook and unearth the secrets of native Illinois habitat. Prairie, woodland and savanna provide a diverse mosaic of wildflowers, trees, and much more! You’ll find several wayside icons along the way to teach you about the preserve and what’s being done to restore it.
- Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing: Once winter rolls around and the ground is covered in snow, you probably won’t want to go for a run or bike, but you’re not out of options. Bring your skies and or snowshoes and hop on the trail.
Make a day of it!
- Plan your trip: There’s no shortage of things to do in Joliet, check out this events calendar to see what’s happening in the area the day you plan to visit Hadley.
- Stay for a meal: If picnicking is not your thing, check out some restaurants in the area.
- Birding: Just 20 minutes away from Hadley is Orland Grassland, 750 acres of restored prairie and wetland. This makes for a perfect habitat to see some grassland birds!