choose from cross-country skiing on woodland trails, horse
shows, fishing, and appreciation of woods abundant with
first snow draws many visitors to Kendall County's Harris
Forest Preserve to enjoy cross-country skiing on more than
three miles of ungroomed trails and sledding on a challenging
I-290 West to I-88.
Exit I-88 at Orchard Road and go South all the way
to Rte. 71 which is the first stop light after the
Fox River. Make a right at Rte. 71. Cross Rte. 47
and the entrance to the Harris Forest Preserve is
approximately .5 mile on the left.
92-acre site was purchased from the Harris family in the
late 1960s and was originally grazed. Two red barns now
house district tools and equipment. The community has enjoyed
the land as a park for a long time and restoration work
began three years ago. There has been very little need for
intervention as buckthorn has yet to invade these woods
that harbor blue ash, white oak, bur oak, shagbark hickory,
and sugar maple.
Several wooden bridges cross streams along the woodland
trails. Visitors can fish in Leifheit Lake for large mouth
bass, bluegill, and channel catfish or play sports in the
In the spring and fall, birders can spy an occasional osprey
along with red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, white egrets,
kingfishers, great crested flycatchers, and both green and
great blue herons. Harris Forest Preserve harbors 230 native
plant species. These include such spring beauties as trillium,
Virginia bluebells, toothwort, wild leek, Dutchman's breeches,
hepatica, and, well, spring beauty.
A horse arena is located just below the sledding hill and
is used for horse shows and various events held by the Kendall
County Horse Association. One of the existing trails will
soon be compatible as a horse trail.
If you want to plan a reunion, gather a few friends for
cross-country skiing, or plan a scout troop outing, a heated
enclosed shelter with a wood-burning fireplace is available
for a nominal fee. Otherwise, in more temperate weather
the area also offers seven outside shelters.
Next spring, the Kendall County Historic Courthouse will
open as the local Nature Center.
Harris Forest Preserve invites volunteers to participate
in their spring bird count and a variety of restoration
projects. Contact Jason Pettit, Kendall County Forest Preserve
District director, at (630) 553-4131.
The Harris Forest Preserve is open year-round from 8 a.m.
- dusk. Bikes are welcome, but only on the asphalt areas.
Dogs can come along, but must be leashed.
Nearby Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area in Yorkville
offers a variety of activities for the winter sports enthusiast.
Cross-country skiing, sledding and ice skating can be enjoyed
when conditions permit. Ice fishing is a popular change
of pace. A four-mile snowmobile trail begins at the picnic
shelter and is open when snow cover is adequate. Check at
the park office for maps and regulations; (630) 553-6297.