Lake allows visitors to fish, canoe and ice skate
Patten Woods in northern Lake County encompasses 972 acres
of prairie, native oak woodlands, and sedge meadows. The
Des Plaines River meanders the entire length of the preserve,
and the beautiful 74-acre Sterling Lake lies at the southern
end of the park.
Patten Woods is located in northeastern Lake County
near Wadsworth, IL. The main entrance is on Rte. 173
one mile east of the
I-94 tollway and 1/4 mile east of Rte. 41.
north of Sterling Lake lies the northern trailhead for the
Des Plaines River Trail, a crushed gravel trail which extends
south for 12 miles with a 33-mile link-up planned for the
near future. This trail is open to horses, snowmobiles,
bicycles, as well as hikers and runners. In addition, Sterling
Lake is encircled by foot trails that stretch approximately
two miles. In the eastern half of Van Patten Woods lies
a one-mile loop dedicated for hikers and cross-country skiers
and a two-mile crushed gravel loop for cross country hikers,
horses, and bicycles. Anyone out on the trails may see white-tailed
deer, catch a glimpse of a coyote, look up to see some of
the many raptors (red-tailed hawk, Cooper's hawk, sharp-shinned
hawk) or you may be very lucky and see some of the wild
turkeys that have been spotted lately.
Lake is the hub of activity for the park.
a gravel pit that had filled with water, the lake was once
a dangerous eyesore with treacherous drop-offs. In 1989
and 1993 major restoration took place resulting in a safe
and beautiful lake where fishing, canoeing, row boating
and paddle boating are enjoyed. On the fishing scene panfish,
bass, and northern pike are often caught while muskies,
channel catfish, and walleye are stocked regularly. Bait,
tackle, and boat rentals are available at Chandler's Boat
and Bait on the lake's shore. There is also a canoe launch
for the Des Plaines River.
recreation includes ice skating, hiking, snowshoeing, ice
fishing, (provided ice is 4.5 inches thick), cross-country
skiing, and snowmobiling.
paramount natural feature of the area is the Des Plaines
River. Its flood plain provides refuge for many native plants
and animals. Primarily flat to gently sloping, the grasslands
and restored prairies and meadows are dotted by pine groves
and natural oak-dominated woodlands. Can you spot the largest
oak tree in the county? (HintŠit stands very close to the
road running through the preserve).
District plans to restore the sedge meadow and wetland community
that run along the Des Plaines River. These communities
are separated by linear oak woodlands that run along the
eastern bank of the river. Prairie restoration has started
west of Sterling Lake and there are active volunteer groups
planting trees and conducting controlled burns of woodland
remodeled just seven years ago, shelters, bathroom facilities,
trails and picnic areas are all in new, clean condition.
You really get a sense of open country when you visit this
preserve and it is large enough and far from highly populated
areas to get a feeling of quiet and calm. This is not an
overcrowded, overused park by any stretch!
information about rentals, programs, fishing, contact Lake
County Forest Preserves at (847) 367-6640. For information
on conservation and restoration projects, contact volunteer
coordinator Tom Smith at (847) 948-7750.
Patten Woods is open 365 days a year from 6:30 a.m. until