Open daily one hour after sunrise until one hour after sunset
Wheaton, IL
7 Miles
Drinking Water
Horse Trailer Parking

Herrick Lake

Preserve History

After the retreat of the Wisconsin Glacier, the land that is now Herrick Lake Forest Preserve grew into prairies with scattered woodlands. For thousands of years, different groups of indigenous people passed through the area, some to hunt and move on, others to settle for varied periods of time. The last of these groups to call this land home was the Potawatomi, who had settled in the area by the late 1600s. Their well-traveled trails served as the basis for Butterfield and Warrenville roads.

In 1833, around the time of the Treaty of Chicago, which moved the Potawatomi west of the Mississippi River, Ira Herrick moved near the small settlement of Wheaton and built his homestead in a densely wooded parcel that surrounded a small marshy lake. This marked the beginning of the land’s agricultural period, which would last over 100 years. Old fencerows, woodlot edges and fields of European grasses still stand in Herrick Lake Forest Preserve as remnants of this era.

In 1925, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County purchased 90 acres of the original Herrick homestead. From the mid-1950s through the 1970s, additional scattered acquisitions expanded the preserve. Today, at 885 acres, Herrick Lake Forest Preserve is a substantial link in a 3,700-acre chain of open space that includes Danada, Warrenville Grove, St. James Farm and Blackwell forest preserves.

Natural History

Herrick Lake Forest Preserve in Wheaton is home to an impressive variety of wildlife. Ecologists have recorded over 254 resident and migrant animal species among the preserve’s 470 different types of plants.

In the mature upland woods, stately 150-year-old white, red and bur oaks provide habitat for animals like woodpeckers, squirrels and owls.

White-tailed deer and coyotes roam through adjacent fields of European grasses, where dickcissels, savanna sparrows, bobolinks and eastern meadowlarks nest among the fescues. Slowly emerging within these fields are young planted forests of American elms with understories of smaller maples, oaks, lindens and hickories. Viburnums, dogwoods, roses and blackberries are common in this immature upland woods, which attracts black-crowned night herons, eastern wood peewees and American woodcocks.

Along the forest preserve’s pothole marshes and streams, silver maple and buttonbush grow. Raccoons, woodchucks, northern orioles, wood thrushes, and various frogs and toads dwell in this area, which is seasonally covered with colorful swamp buttercup and wild iris. Herrick Marsh, which lies in the middle of the forest preserve, supports communities of cattails and reeds, a draw for eastern tiger salamanders, northern leopard frogs, pied-billed grebes, blue-winged teals, red-winged blackbirds, minks and muskrats.



Hikers, bicyclers, horseback riders and cross-country skiers can enjoy more than 5 miles of trails, including a section of the Danada and Herrick Lake Regional Trail, a designated “National Recreation Trail” under the federal National Trails System Act. A path around the lake connects both parking lots to the picnic grounds and the trailhead, and additional trails cut through central and southern parts of the preserve.

Horseback riders should park their trailers at the south lot on Herrick Road and should not ride along the Lake Trail or in developed recreational areas, such as picnic sites or the grounds around the youth-group cabin.

When conditions permit, rangers groom trails for cross-country skiing. Classical cross-country skiers should use the set tracks on the outside of the trail, leaving the inside for freestyle skiers and other trail users.


With plenty of tables and places to spread a blanket, Herrick Lake has long been a popular DuPage County spot for picnics and informal field games. Groups can reserve the east, west and south shelters and the west picnic area by calling Visitor Services at (630) 933-7248 but must do so at least three business days before their visit.

Ground fires are not allowed, but visitors can bring their own grills and use the on-site hot-coal disposal containers. For everyone’s convenience, Herrick Lake offers restrooms with flush toilets by the east shelter and pit toilets by the south shelter.


Hundreds of largemouth bass, channel and flathead catfish, crappie, and sunfish provide sport for county anglers at the 22-acre Herrick Lake, which has been part of the District’s fisheries-management program for more than 30 years. Periodic stocking of catchable-sized sport fish supplements the natural fishery.

The Forest Preserve District allows ice fishing at Herrick Lake at the angler’s own risk; rangers do not monitor ice conditions. As a guideline, not a guarantee, a minimum of 4 inches of ice is recommended for any ice activity.

Anglers 16 or older who are not legally disabled must carry valid Illinois sport fishing licenses, and all anglers must follow all District and state regulations.

Boat Rentals

Visitors can rent canoes, kayaks and rowboats for use on Herrick Lake by the hour or the day at the boat-rental area. Rentals include the use of oars or paddles and personal flotation devices. District regulations require that all individuals, regardless of age, must wear PFDs when using District-rented watercraft.

The boat-rental facility is open weekends and holidays from the beginning of May through Labor Day from 8 a.m. until 6.30 p.m. (the last boat rental of the day is at 5:30 p.m.). From Memorial Day through Labor Day, it is also open Mondays through Fridays from 11 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. (the last boat rental of the day is at 5:30 p.m.). Between Labor Day and the end of September, the facility is open only on weekends from 8 a.m. through 5:30 p.m. (the last boat rental of the day is at 4:30 p.m.).

Youth-Group Cabin

The Herrick Lake youth-group cabin can accommodate up to 26 people and has picnic tables and a fire ring. It is near restrooms with pit toilets, drinking water, trash and recycling containers, and firewood. As part of Districtwide efforts to help slow the spread of the emerald ash borer, outside firewood is not allowed.

Open year-round, the cabin is set aside for use by youth groups. The District defines youth groups as recognized, nonprofit organizations. Only members of these groups, with their accompanying leaders, may camp in the cabin. Camping permits and adult supervision of one leader over 21 years of age for every 10 children are mandatory for cabin use. Groups can reserve the cabin through Visitor Services at (630) 933-7248 but must do so at least three business days in advance.


The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is committed to making its facilities accessible to all visitors. For special accessibility needs or concerns, please contact the District's ADA coordinator at (630) 933-7683 or
TTY (800) 526-0857 at least three business days in advance of your visit.

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©2016 Forest Preserve District of DuPage County