The 2,503-acre Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien is one of the most ecologically impressive parcels of open space in the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, if not northern Illinois. It is also one of the District’s most popular forest preserves, known for its Rocky Glen waterfall, Sawmill Creek bluff overlook, and extensive trails. Long-term habitat-improvement projects have helped restore and maintain Waterfall Glen’s 773-acre Bluff Savanna, which roughly covers the southern part of the preserve between Argonne National Laboratory and the Des Plaines River. Forest Preserve District restoration efforts have also benefited Waterfall Glen’s 120-acre Poverty Prairie, a stable, diverse community with more than 339 native plant species and resident animals from meadowlarks and gray catbirds to western harvest mice. This dry prairie contains several native grasses, including poverty oat grass, which gives the area its name.
Waterfall Glen offers gently rolling to hilly terrain with 11 miles of trails popular with hikers, bicyclists, horseback riders and cross-country skiers. It also offers fishing and an orienteering course, model airplane field and youth group campground.
Hikers, bicyclists, horseback riders and cross-country skiers can enjoy some of Waterfall Glen’s most scenic areas via four mapped trails containing almost 11 miles of limestone- and turf-covered routes. Visitors on foot can explore the narrow, unmarked footpaths that crisscross through Waterfall Glen but should remember that these paths are not on the map and may not connect with mapped trails. To protect Waterfall Glen’s sensitive natural areas, bicyclists may ride only on designated bike trails.