Blackwell

Blackwell

The 1,366-acre Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville is one of the District's most popular forest preserves and has been repeatedly voted among the best in the western suburbs. It offers fishing, camping, archery, picnic shelters, an off-leash dog area and more.

 

Natural Scene

Blackwell's gently rolling hilly terrain features oak and hickory woodlands, prairies, grasslands and wetlands that attract a variety of native wildlife, including wild turkeys, deer, bald eagles, great blue herons, coyotes, red foxes and muskrats. Blackwell's McKee Marsh, located north of Mack Road, features trails and two vernal ponds where amphibians such as the northern leopard frog breed. Bird species such as the wood duck, blue-winged teal and solitary sandpiper forage in the area.

 

Driving Directions

Blackwell's main entrance is on the north side of Butterfield Road 0.25 mile east of Winfield Road. There are also entrances on the north and south sides of Mack Road. The Native Plant Nursery and off-leash dog area are on the south side of Mack Road.

Trails

You can walk, jog, bike, cross-country ski or ride horseback on most trails at Blackwell. If you're bringing a horse trailer, please park it at the McKee Marsh lot on Mack Road and do not ride in picnic areas, campgrounds or other developed areas.

 

Picnicking

Blackwell has dozens of picnic tables and grassy areas where you can spread a blanket. Ground fires are not allowed, but you can bring grills. (The preserve has hot-coal containers for charcoal.)

You can reserve Hawthorn Grove, which holds up to 300, or one of four 100-person shelters, some with grills or electricity, as well. Details are on our Picnicking page.

 

Fishing

Combined, Silver Lake, White Pine Pond and Sand Pond offer great fishing for bluegill, catfish, largemouth bass, northern pike, rainbow trout and walleye.

Anglers 16 or older who are not legally disabled must carry valid Illinois fishing licenses (inland trout stamps, too, if they're fishing for trout). Lake maps and regulations, including creel limits and minimum lengths, are on our Fishing page.

 

Boating

Explore Blackwell from the water by renting a canoe, kayak or rowboat on Silver Lake by the hour April – September.

You can explore Silver Lake in your own canoe, kayak or other select nongasoline-powered watercraft but need to have a Forest Preserve District permit in your possession.

You can also access the West Branch DuPage River via the canoe launch on Mack Road. Watercraft must have Illinois water usage stamps or state registrations but do not need Forest Preserve District permits. For state boating requirements, visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

 

Archery

The archery area has beginner, advanced and interactive ranges, each with bow racks and limestone shooting lines with overshot and clear zones. You need to bring your own gear, but you don't need a permit. Rules are posted at each range.

 

Off-Leash Dog Area

You can enjoy off-leash fun with your four-legged friends at Blackwell's fully fenced off-leash dog area, but you need to carry proof of a valid Forest Preserve District permit for each dog you bring. Visit Dogs in the Preserves for rules and permit info.

 

Family Camping

Reserve one of 60 wooded or semiwooded sites for tents, trailers or motor homes at the family campground Friday and Saturday nights May – September. (Additional nights are available around the holidays.) Each has electricity and a gravel parking pad, fire ring and picnic table, but none have sewage or water hookups.

 

Youth-Group Camping

Each of the 12 sites at Blackwell's youth-group campground holds 25 campers and has its own picnic tables and fire ring.

The campground is open year-round but is for the exclusive use of youth groups, which are defined as recognized, nonprofit organizations whose members are 17 or younger. Only members of qualifying groups with their accompanying leaders may camp here.

 

Compass Course

The self-guided compass course on Mount Hoy challenges you to find your way through the outdoors by following a series of directions. There’s no fee to use the course, and you can reserve supplies by calling Visitor Services weekdays at 630-933-7248.

 

Snow Tubing & Snowshoes

Take a thrilling ride down Mount Hoy when 3 or more inches of snow covers the hill. You must rent a District inner tube but can do so at the base of the hill weekends and school holidays December – February, when you can also rent snowshoes. Dates and fees are at Winter in the Preserves.

 

History

Visitors at Blackwell walk on land shaped by the retreating Wisconsin Glacier 12,000 to 15,000 years ago. After the glacier’s retreat, savannas with widely spaced oak trees formed on the higher ground while the lower-lying ground became home to marsh and prairie plants. At Blackwell’s McKee Marsh, the 13,000-year-old skeleton of a woolly mammoth — one of the oldest finds of its kind in northeastern Illinois — was discovered in 1977.

In the 1830s, Erastus Gary, one of Winfield Township’s first settlers and a founder of Gary, Indiana, made his home on the land that is now Blackwell Forest Preserve. There, he operated a grist mill — Gary’s Mill — east of the West Branch DuPage River. The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County purchased the land 130 years later and named it after Roy C. Blackwell, a former District president.

The District converted a quarry on the south side of the preserve into a multiuse area to retain stormwater and provide visitors with a variety of recreational activities. The quarry became Silver Lake. Authorities later chose Blackwell for the site of a county landfill, which operated from 1965 to 1973 and provided valuable knowledge about managing solid waste. Today, Mount Hoy serves as a scenic overlook and popular birding site as well as a winter tubing hill.

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County offers scores of nature-related programs and activities for grownups, kids, families and groups year-round. Click below to register for programs, reserve shelters and campsites or purchase permits, and we'll see you soon!
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