The Little Woodsman Nature Trails


The Forest Preserves of Cook County boast of five fine nature centers, where the young and the old may learn more about the natural history of our area. We have added the very fine nature center in Pilcher Park of the Joliet, Illinois Park District to round out our Little Woodsmen Nature Trails program.

The Little Woodsmen Nature Trail is designed to give the young a chance to do this. By visiting each of these centers, hiking the nature trails and picnicking in the area, the hike, if he takes the time to read the various signs on the displays, trees, shrubs and grasses will get a first hand knowledge of the area. It will give him a greater appreciation of our preserves, and in turn, we hope they will encourage others to take care of these natural areas.

Trail Requirements

To meet the requirements for the awards offered for your visit to each of these nature centers you must do the following;

Trail Rules and Regulations

You are no doubt aware of the limited space at all the Nature Center buildings. There have been several complaints from the various centers concerning the conduct of some of it's younger visitors. We must insist that the following rules and regulations be strictly observed.

Failure to follow the above rules, misuse, or misconduct by and member of your groups will mean forfeit of trail awards the the entire unit and will make the unit ineligible for any awards for trails under our auspices for the current year.

Nature Centers

Relax, enjoy a day in the country with your family... with satisfaction, and at no cost to you! Look at exhibits and wildlife at a nature center. Walk labeled, self-guiding trails. The exhibits and trails are changed seasonally. Introductory talks, field trips available for scheduled school groups only. Staff naturalists welcome your questions.

Areas near each center offer picnicking, hiking and recreation in a natural setting. Visitors are required to protect plants, animals, preserve grounds and waters.

Bring lunch for an outing. No concession stands are available for pop or candy. School, youth groups will find ample parking space for cars and buses.

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Trailside Museum

For short visits by families, children, small groups. Center has no nature trails. At Thatcher and Chicago Ave., River Forest.

For more information visit

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Sandridge Nature Center

On Paxton Ave, two blocks north of 159th St. South Holland. Center emphasizes natural history of the Calumet region and it's relation to the geological past. For visitors are nature trails, the exhibit building and pioneer exhibits which show physical, biological, social, historical relationships of man and his environment.

For more information, visit

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Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center

On the west side of Willow Springs Road (104th Ave), 1/2 mile south of 95th Street, 1 mile west of Rt 45/Lagrange Road.

Located on the Valparaiso terminal moraine, noted glacial feature of northeastern Illinois, and 125 feet higher than downtown Chicago. Visitors to the one room schoolhouse can view wildlife on Longjohn Slough by telescope. On exhibit are mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates, seasonal wildflowers, a farm garden and an orchard. Three nature trails offer 15, 30 and 60 minute hikes.

For more information, visit

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Pilcher Park Nature Center

Take I-80 to U.S. 30. Turn left on U.S. 30 to Gouger Road. Turn right on Gouger Road to first Park road on left. Left on Park road to Nature Center.

In addition to the very find Nature Museum and trail, the park has many other trails leading to a flowing well, French Fort, Conservatory, Miniature Train and a very find Picnic area.

For more information, visit

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River Trail Nature Center

Located on the west side of Milwaukee Avenue (Rt. 21), 3/4 mile southeast of River Rd (Rt. 45) in Northbrook.

Visitors to the center see native mammals, fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles; Indian displays; a pioneer village; a honeybee colony; and seasonal displays in the museum. Outdoors are self-guiding nature trails emphasizing ecology of local plant, animal communities. Observable are sugar maple groves and wild woodland flowers, plus year-round flock of ducks on the Des Plaines River.

For more information, visit

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Crabtree Nature Center

Located on Palatine Rd, 1 mile west of Barrington Road, or, 1/2 mile east of Algonquin Rd (Rt. 62).

Ecology is the underlying theme. Relationships between plants, animals and their environment are stressed. Emphasis is on the native oak-hickory forests and prairies. Examples of each local plant-animal community can be seen along the nature trails (from 20 to 90 min long). Also, at the center are a resident Canada Goose flock, wildlife observations blinds, wildflowers, prairie and aquatic exhibits.

For more information, visit

KML file (Google Earth compatible); CrabTree.kml

How to use this .kml file

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