More than 2 miles of trails wind through Hidden Lake, making it a great destination for hikers, joggers, birders and other wildlife watchers.
Hidden Lake 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.)
Groups can reserve the 50-person shelter as well. Details are on our Picnicking page.
Drop a line at at the 15-acre Round Meadow Lake and the 10-acre Eagle Lake, and fish for bass, bluegill, crappie, channel catfish, green sunfish, carp and black bullhead.
Anglers 16 or older who are not legally disabled must carry valid Illinois fishing licenses. Lake maps and regulations, including creel limits and minimum lengths, are on our Fishing page.
You can explore Round Lake in your canoe, kayak or other select nongasoline-powered watercraft but need to have a Forest Preserve District permit in your possession.
In presettlement times, this preserve was predominantly prairie with the southern portion in timber. The true "hidden lake" is a glacier-dug pond tucked away among mature oaks and hickories at the preserve.
In the mid-1960s, the owners of the southwest portion of the preserve east of Route 53 created Eagle Lake in the shape of a soaring eagle in memory of a lost loved one. Round Meadow Lake was created decades later in conjunction with I-355; gravel dug from the site was used for construction, and the water body mitigates frequent flooding of the area.
The Barney family settled the site in the 1830s and built a sawmill along the river, as well as a post office, one-room schoolhouse, creamery and general store. Barney sold his land to Joseph Yackley in 1854.
In 1912, the Cuttens bought more than 500 acres in the area and built a country retreat named Sunny Acres Farm. The farm was purchased in 1933 by William “Big Bill” Johnson, who made his fortune through speakeasies and gambling clubs during Prohibition. He lived on the farm until his death in 1962.
The Forest Preserve District bought the preserve in 1977 and 1978.