Lake Forest Open Lands offers endless opportunities for year-round outdoor recreation, nature exploration and relaxation. All of our preserves are located within the Lake Forest community, encompassing 12 miles of trails and over 800 acres of open spaces for visitors of all ages to enjoy. Here are just a few of the activities to enjoy:

Snowshoeing and Cross Country Skiing: All of our preserves are open during the winter months and provide a peaceful respite in the winter. While many of our preserves get quite busy in the warmer months, the winter months tend to be quieter, perfect for hiking, snowshoeing or cross country skiing.

NEW! We are now laying cross-country ski trails this winter at Mellody Farm Nature Preserve. The trails at Mellody Farm can be accessed just east of the parking lot on the south side of the driveway or in front of the buildings directly west through the gates. We will post updates on our homepage with the date the tracks are made. If you have any questions please call 847.234.3880 ext. 20 or email We welcome any input you may have on the tracks.

Hikers and snowshoers please try to hike or snowshoe to the side of the cross-country tracks to maintain their integrity. Thank you so much. See you down the trail!

Birding: While all of our preserves provide outstanding bird habitat there are several that are particularly of note. Skokie River Nature Preserve was a premier spot for bird banding in North America for years and is home to many of our rare midwest species. The George Beach Trail at Middlefork Farm Nature Preserve has a beautiful hidden wetland which provides amazing bird watching.

Dog Walking: We all love dogs here at Lake Forest Open Lands, but we do require that all dog walkers be registered members of Lake Forest Open Lands with dog walking privileges ($100 Maple Mob memberships and higher included dog walking) and display a current Association dog-walking parking decal. It's a costly business to allow dog walking in our preserves and the membership requirement helps us offset those costs. 

Dogs are not permitted at Mellody Farm Nature Preserve as most of our environmental education programming is held there. We ask all of our dog walkers to exhibit common courtesy and most importantly:

  • Dogs must be leashed at all times when in view of education groups, other people or other dogs
  • Dog walkers are responsible for the bagging and removal of their dog’s waste on all Association properties
  • ​​Click here for a full list of our dog walking rules

Walking, Hiking and Trail Running: All of our preserves have trails for walking, hiking and running. Please be on the lookout for roots, long grass, vines and little critters. If you need help figuring out the best preserve for a walk or hike please take a look at our maps or ask one of our staff by email or phone at 847.234.3880 x71.

Lake Forest Open Lands Association is proud to offer 6 nature preserves and 12 miles of walking trails for all sorts of outdoor activities, but there are a few things we do not allow to protect the plants and animals that live on our property. Please note the we do not allow geocaching, hunting, trapping, swimming, fat tire bikes, snowmobiles and horses in our preserves. In addition, bicycling is not allowed in any of our preserves, however, we recognize that many love to bike in Lake County Forest Preserves Middlefork Savanna. We allow access to this trail through one of our entrances off of Longmeadow at Mellody Farm Nature Preserve.
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