Explore the Reserve

There are several ways to discover and enjoy the mosaic of sites comprising the Liberty Prairie Reserve, and we encourage you to explore the area for yourself! Below are highlighted but a few ways to get outside in the Reserve including Oak Openings Nature Preserve, the regional trail system, Independence Grove Forest Preserve, and Prairie Crossing Conservation Community.


Regional Trail System

Openlands has helped to expand the trail system in the Liberty Prairie Reserve. The Casey Trail bisects the Liberty Prairie Reserve, connecting the Prairie Crossing Trail and the Des Plaines River Trail. Traveling along the Casey Trail, you will pass through the Liberty Prairie Nature Preserve, a protected open space enrolled in the Illinois Nature Preserve System.

The Liberty Prairie Reserve trail system further connects to the county-wide trail system in Lake County, the Millennium Trail to the southwest and the Rollins Savanna trail system to the northwest. Additionally, you can continue along the extensive Des Plaines River Trail to the northeast or southeast, or explore the Des Plaines River Water Trail by launching your boat from Independence Grove Forest Preserve.

You can explore an interactive map of the Liberty Prairie Reserve trail system here, and you can expand the map to see the regional trail connections.


Independence Grove Forest Preserve

Independence Grove is the more popular Forest Preserve in Lake County. Located on the eastern boundary of the Reserve, Independence Grove Forest Preserve offers over six miles of trails for hiking, biking, and other outdoor recreation. You can also rent bikes and a variety of boats on-site and explore the 115-acre lake, enjoy a picnic, or take in the picturesque setting for a day outdoors!

Launching from Independence Grove, you can explore the Des Plaines River by canoeing or kayaking along the Des Plaines River Water Trail.


Oak Openings Nature Preserve

Oak Openings Nature Preserve is an excellent place to start your visit to the Liberty Prairie Reserve. The site has a central location in heart of the Reserve and  connects to the regional trail system. From this site you can travel east along the Casey Trail towards Independence Grove Forest Preserve and the Des Plaines River Trail or you can head west to the Prairie Crossing trail.

Oak Openings is one of several sites that Openlands is working to restore in the Reserve. Here you can see a thriving prairie, migratory birds and other wildlife, and a stand of mighty oaks. If you’re looking to get your hands dirty, please join us for a volunteer workday!

Begin planning your trip to Oak Openings.


Prairie Crossing Conservation Community

Located in Grayslake, Prairie Crossing is a nationally-acclaimed model of conservation. The groundbreaking conservation development was designed to combine the preservation of open space, accessible public transportation, and responsible development practices. Prairie Crossing is also home to the small farm incubator program of the Liberty Prairie Foundation.

In 2014, Openlands accepted responsibility for the conservation easement that protects substantial portions of the common natural areas in the subdivision.