Maple Lake is a peaceful spot for leisurely fishing trips and quiet boating in far southwestern Cook County. Originally constructed by damming a ravine in the 1920s, Maple Lake has offered family fun to generations of local anglers. The 60-acre lake offers 8,000 feet of shoreline with plenty of spots for camping chairs and fishing poles. The wooded shorelines and the hilly Palos Preserves extending in all directions lend a feeling of cozy remoteness. Movie buffs might recognize Maple Lake as the location of the home of Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in the 2006 film The Lake House. While the film set is gone, hiking trails, overlooks and picnic areas remain—as well as plenty of fish to catch.
In addition to the fish population at Maple Lake, the area is a migratory stop for geese and ducks. A feeding station draws birds such as tufted titmouse, fox sparrows and white-throated sparrows. Remnant oak savannas are being restored along the west and north lake boundaries. Here, dappled sunlight reaches between oak branches, giving life to myriad native plants, such as elm-leaved goldenrod, woodland sunflower and Pennsylvania sedge.
At 15,000 acres, the Palos Preserves in southwest Cook County are the largest concentration of preserved land in the Forest Preserves. Thanks to more than three decades of habitat restoration, they also hold some of the highest-quality natural areas in the county. These trails join many popular sites, such as the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center, Pulaski Woods, Saganashkee Slough and Maple Lake which is home to a mountain bike staging area that provides access to almost 40 miles of unpaved trails.
Boat rentals are typically available from April-October. Private boats are prohibited on Maple Lake.The Palos preserves are home to an extensive mixed-use trail system, including the paved Cal-Sag Trail which cross many of these preserve to the south and the paved Centennial Trail/John Husar I&M Canal Trail system to the north. Parking at the Palos Forest Preserve is easy. Cook County Forest Preserve Hours are from sunrise to sunset.