Blackwell Forest Preserve: Recreational Improvements


At 1,353 acres, Blackwell Forest Preserve is the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County’s largest preserve. The preserve is home to a 60-acre fishing lake and boat launch, family and youth-group campgrounds, a tubing hill and an archery range. The preserve also provides access to several regional multipurpose trails.

To meet the public’s use of an existing archery range and provide even greater recreational opportunities, the District proposed construction of a 13-acre multipurpose recreation and archery complex at Blackwell Forest Preserve. This complex would additionally meet the needs of the District’s annual archery open house and several archery skills classes taught at the site.

The new archery range will feature three ranges:

  • A half-acre beginner range with eight 10-foot wide lanes — and eight standard targets between 10 to 20 yards — to accommodate up to 24 archers. The range will be enclosed on three sides with safety netting.
  • An advanced range with 11 10-foot wide lanes — and 11 standard targets between 15 to 60 yards — to accommodate up to 22 archers.
  • An interactive range with nine 10-foot wide lanes — and 15 two- and three-dimensional targets between 20 to 60 yards — to accommodate up to 18 archers.

Each range will contain 12-foot-wide limestone-screened shooting lanes complete with 45-yard overshot and 15-yard clear zones. Bow racks will be available between each lane, and a common spectator area will allow for viewing.
The project will also include a new trailhead with access to the West Branch Regional Trail, a quarter-mile asphalt trail, a 50-person picnic shelter, a 3-acre game area, an accessible fishing pier and a 5-acre restored native landscape.


During the 1970s and 80s, Blackwell Forest Preserve was best known for its Sand Pond swim beach.  When the swim beach closed in the 1980s, a fence enclosed the lake and the parking lot went unused but for occasional access to an adjacent regional trail. Many years later in 2005, the District converted half of the parking lot into an archery range. As its popularity grew and its use increased, the facility’s conditions could no longer accommodate archers and other forest preserve visitors.

In fall 2005, the District consulted archery organizations, schools and independent archers to plan for constructing a permanent facility at the site and other recreational improvements.

A conceptual plan for a new 13-acre recreational area at Blackwell was completed in 2007. The former facilities were demolished between 2008 and 2009, and a temporary archery range was set at St. James Farm Forest Preserve during 2010.


The project is completed and was made open to the public at the Archery Open House on August 18, 2012.


The District anticipates the project will cost $504,000. Of the cost, $252,000 will be funded by 2007 referendum bonds, and $252,000 will be matched by funds from an Illinois Department of Natural Resource’s Open Space Land Acquisition and Development Program grant awarded the District in 2008.

Drawing and Images

You can view the proposed work at the Blackwell Forest Preserve Recreation and Archery Complex in the image below or download Blackwell Complex Overview.

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©2016 Forest Preserve District of DuPage County