Archive for the ‘Forest Preserves’ Category


April 19, 2020

Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

February can be one of the coldest and snowiest of the winter months. Most of us like to stay indoors where it’s cozy and warm. But winter can be fun if you know where to look and learn what’s available.

Hoffman Estates has more winter activities than most. The reason I say this is because our village is home to close to 4,000 acres of Cook County Forest Preserve land. That gives us 30 miles of paved and unpaved hiking, biking, cross country ski trails and a lake for ice fishing when the ice is thick enough.

More than 100 years ago, on November 30, 1914, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County was established. It is one of the oldest and largest districts in the nation. The first 500 acre preserve was Deer Grove at Quentin & Dundee Roads. (It is now more than one preserve with a total of 2,000 acres.) In 2020 the Forest Preserve District has approximately 70,000 acres. Much of the acreage in our village came from farm land and failed development projects such as Leisure World and the Howie-in-the-Hills development. Back in the late 60s and early 70s, the loss of this land to the Cook County Forest Preserve District was not a favorable one. The village needed land for commercial development but that didn’t work out with the Cook County Forest Preserve District unwilling to compromise with the Village.

With approximately 4,000 acres of forest preserves within our village, we have nature at our doorstep. If we have snowy and cold conditions this winter, you will have the opportunity to not only walk the more than 30 miles of trails but ski as well. Cross country skiing is allowed on all the trails when snow is on the ground.

The Paul Douglas Forest Preserve, north of Central Road and south of Algonquin Road, has 8.6 miles of paved trails that wind their way through the woods and prairies that surround us. A new bridge that safely takes the trail over Central Road at Roselle Road was dedicated this past December by both Mayor McLeod and Schaumburg’s Mayor Daley.

Poplar Creek Forest Preserve, south of Higgins Road and west of Barrington Road, has 20 .7 miles of both paved and unpaved trails. (Including the Lion Bridge, shown above, along Route 59.) You may see horseback riders on the unpaved trails and dogs are always welcome on the trails as long as they’re on a leash. If there’s no snow, get out the bikes and roller blades.

Just keep in mind that walking may be what you choose to do, but the rules of the forest preserve ask us to not pick any of the plants or feed the animals.

If you’d like to learn how to cross country ski, you can drive out to the Sagawau Nordic trails in the forest preserve in Lemont. Equipment and lessons are available at reasonable rates. You’ll be able to return to our trails and enjoy the winter season on our own wonderful trails.

If you like to ice fish, you can fish when conditions are right. Ice Fishing is available at South Bode Lake off of Bode Road east of Bartlett Road.  North Bode Lake doesn’t have ice fishing because Poplar Creek runs through it. If it gets cold enough, give it a try, you may catch a big one. Have fun in the forest this year.

The Cook County Forest Preserve District has a great web site. Great maps, events and information can be found at www. There are no charges for parking and using the trails or picnic areas.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Historian

Credit for the bike trail photo to Rob Chapman of


January 10, 2010

Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the January 2010 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates!

As a young girl I enjoyed sledding and ice skating.  My brother and I couldn’t wait for the snow and cold weather so we could get out the sled, wax up the runners and head for the sledding hill.  I still enjoy winter, I know it seems strange to say that but I still have those pleasant memories of fun in the snow as a child.

The January weather usually keeps us in the house with little opportunity to get outdoors and since we can’t escape the snow and ice we may try to enjoy some of the winter sports.

Hoffman Estates is fortunate to have more that 3,000 acres of forest preserves within the village limits.  Much of the land was acquired from surrounding farms in the late 60’s & early 70’s and the collapse of the planned “Leisure World” prompted the Cook County Forest Preserve District to take over that land preventing a development that would have brought 50,000 residents to the area just west of Rt. 59 and north of Rt. 58. At the time many farmers were sad to see their farming life come to an end.  Many of the farmers did continue farming out west with the purchase of new farms.

Since that time, picnic groves, biking trails and lakes provide great summer recreation for our families. Many of you don’t know that winter recreation is also offered by the forest preserve district.  Winter fun is just a mile or two away.

When the snow starts flying and measures 4 inches, you’ll be able to go snowmobiling in the Ned Brown Meadow on the south side of Golf Rd. and east of I-290. You’ll need to register your sled with the forest preserve district at

You can ice fish on Bode Lake South as long as the ice is 4 inches thick.  Fishing hours are between 8 am and sunset.  The parking area is off Bode Rd. 1 mile west of Barrington Rd. of course you’ll need your Illinois fishing license.  All the biking trails in the Poplar Creek Forest Preserve are open for cross country skiing as well as winter hiking.

Our own Hoffman Estates Park District offers sledding at your neighborhood park and outdoor ice skating, when weather permits and the green flag is up at your local lake. With the right weather conditions the Pine Park parking lot is turned into and outdoor skating rink.  Indoor ice skating is always offered year round at the Hoffman Estates Park District Community Center and Ice Arena at Higgins and Huntington Blvd.  When the snow is deep enough, the sledding hill at the Poplar Creek Country Club & Golf Course opens for great outdoor fun.  Get more info at

So get out those sleds, wax the runners (old candles or a bar of soap work well) and have the ice skates sharpened.  It’s time to have some fun in the snow.

Pat Barch, Hoffman Estates Village Historian