Named after the farmer whose dairy once occupied the land, 477-acre Spears Woods Forest Preserve is a must-see for nature lovers. The unpaved trails wind through sun-dappled open woodlands and sweeping prairie, revealing hidden sloughs and wetlands. The wide and level trails allow visitors to walk at a leisurely pace while watching the scenery unfold.
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.
To explore Spears Woods, hikers can combine the red trail, Country Lane and the yellow trail for an easy two-mile loop past restored prairies, oak woodlands and Boomerang Slough. Spears Woods’ trails are open to horseback riding, bicycling and cross-country skiing as well. A short connecting trail leads from the center of the grove on the west side of the parking lot to the main trails.
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.