Vast Nature Preserves Near Ash Street Cooperative

Park Forest is home to many amazing things, of which, includes a vast span of nature preserves. Full of wildlife, walkable trails, and seasonal foliage, the preserves in the area offer our Ash Street Members a chance to connect with nature right outside their doors. Explore with us the many nature preserves in and around the Park Forest, Illinois area; then come see for yourself why so many city-dwellers have made the shift to cooperative life in the South Suburbs. When you're ready to become a member, stop by the office to discuss availability and pricing.



Ash Street is located in Cook County which boasts an amazing 26 Nature Preserves "and five Illinois Land and Water Reserves, totaling approximately 10,320 acres, the most of any local agency in the state." (source) However, the fun doesn't stop there. Ash Street is a mere mile away from the Will County border which boasts a whopping 69 nature preserves (both improved and unimproved). Imagine the possibilities!


While each preserve is unique, making it ever more exciting to visit each one, most all offer wildlife viewing, hiking and biking. Some of them also offer fishing, boating, additional recreational activities, educational programs and hands-on classes for the children.


sauk trail hiking forest trail near park forest

Most notably, and closest to home, are the incredible combined 20 miles of trails within the Thorn Creek Trail system including the Sauk Trail Woods with an access point just a few yards from the Ash Street Coops!


Thorn Creek Nature Preserve

Located right here in Park Forest, this 997-acre nature preserve is one of the largest in Illinois. "Thorn Creek Woods protects a diversity of habitats, including forest, prairie, savanna, wetland and a portion of Thorn Creek. Wildlife found at the preserve includes southern flying squirrels, warblers, woodpeckers and a variety of hawk species. The preserve is also home to a variety of plant species, including basswood and sugar maple." (source)


hawks found in Park Forest trail systems

Just south of town, the Thorn Creek branch offers a 2 mile hiking trail and a visitor center that was converted from a historic 1862 church. Classes and programs are regularly offered onsite including: bird watching, wildlife viewing, nighttime hikes, plant identification, insect listening, seasonal topics, nature preservation and so much more. Check out there website as they always have something fun going on for the kids and adults! Registration is sometimes required.


Sauk Trail Woods

The Sauk Trail Woods is a part of the Thorn Creek preserve system of hiking trails. This impressive forest is located directly in Park Forest with multiple trail head access points along the approx. 4 mile trail. The trail takes eager hikers around the beautiful Sauk Lake with many breaks in the trees to view its vast beauty. Sauk Lake was formed when Thorn Creek was dammed many years ago and is now home to many migratory birds, aquatic species and rich foliage.


The Sauk Trail Woods trail connects to the 20 mile trail system so if you feel up to it, you can cross the street to hop onto the next trail system and continue exploring the area. Most of the 20 mile trail is paved, offering hiking, biking, walking and jogging, winding through Park Forest, Calumet City, Chicago Heights, Glenwood, Lansing, Lynwood, and South Holland.


See you on the trails!


two people biking the park forest trails

For trail maps and preserve details in Will County, click here.

For trail maps and preserve details in Cook County, click here.


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