Forest Preserves of Cook County

The Forest Preserves of Cook County, with nearly 70,000 acres, is one of the oldest and largest forest preserve districts in the United States. It receives an estimated 62 million visits each year, providing an escape into a world teeming with wildlife and rich with outdoor recreation and environmental education opportunities. Within its boundaries are rare habitats that offer plant and animal diversity on par with the rainforests of the world.

People of all ages and interests can relax, get active, or just have fun in the Forest Preserves of Cook County. With thousands of acres to explore and hundreds of events year-round, there are so many ways to get out and experience nature.

Check out free or low-cost events and programs in the Forest Preserves. Join a workshop on camping basics, or bring the kids to a concert in the woods. You can try anything from “forest bathing” to an owl prowl to nature photography.

Most events are held at one of six Forest Preserves nature centers across Cook County. Stop by anytime during open hours to see native animals and other exhibits, talk with a naturalist on staff, or take a walk on the local grounds.

From cross-country skiing to horseback riding to mountain biking, the Forest Preserves has more than 350 miles of paved and unpaved trails for year-round enjoyment. Or try spending a night under the stars and falling asleep to a gentle chorus of nature sounds at our five campgrounds. Other Forest Preserves amenities including boating centers, aquatic centers, golf courses… and more.