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Chicago, IL: Blackwell Forest Preserve

Link a DuPage county high point, oak and hickory woodlands, a marshy pit-stop for migrating birds, and the hiding spot for a woolly mammoth on this 6.1-miler west of Chicago.

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The Blackwell Forest Preserve is home to DuPage County’s first wetland restoration project: McKee Marsh. Now the centerpiece of the preserve, the large marsh hosts dozens of species of migratory birds including herons, egrets, bluebirds, and bobolinks. This 6.1-mile lollipop loop links the multi-use regional trail through the park’s southern side with the 2.3-mile interpretive loop around the marsh itself.
Begin at the lot just north of Butterfield Road and head west around White Pine Pond, skirting Mt. Hoy’s western edge (after this hike, trek up the 150-foot slope on its eastern side for 30-mile views of downtown). The wide, gravel path ducks into oak, hickory, and elm groves headed north across Springbrook Creek before crossing Mack Road.
Less than 2 miles in, turn right onto the Bobolink Trail for a 2.3-mile loop; first through wildflower-sprinkled prairie grasslands, then around the west side of McKee Marsh. Early and late in the day, you’re likely to see deer browsing goldenrod, milkweed, aster, and other prairie plants along this stretch. Look for interpretive signs explaining local wildlife and the area’s glacial history as you complete the loop and begin backtracking south toward the trailhead.
-Mapped by Ted Villaire

To Trailhead

I-290 W to I-88 W to exit I-88 at Highland Ave. Turn right on Highland Ave. and drive 1.1 miles before turning right on Butterfield Rd. (IL 56). In 1.6 miles, turn left onto Main Dr. and proceed 100 yards to the parking lot on the right.

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