Pratt's Wayne Woods

Pratt's Wayne Woods

At 3,478 acres, Pratt’s Wayne Woods Forest Preserve in Wayne is the largest forest preserve in the county. It offers great fishing and a place to fly model planes and is home to the Brewster Creek Marsh Nature Preserve. The preserve is located on the outwash plain of the West Chicago Moraine. Made up largely of wetlands, this landscape combines calcium-rich water with wet sandy soil to support plant life more commonly seen near Lake Michigan.

 

Natural Scene

Pratt's Wayne Woods is home to over 1,000 species of native plants and animals. Below the savanna’s widely spaced oaks grow dogbane, pale-leaved sunflower and smooth yellow violet wildflowers. In the marshy areas, explorers can view great Angelica, marsh marigold, shooting star, nodding ladies’ tresses and spotted joe-pye weed as well as egrets, great blue herons and wood ducks. The preserve's grasslands and wetland habitats are successful breeding sites for sandhill cranes, Henslow’s sparrows, least bitterns, yellow-headed blackbirds and other rare species. 

In 1998 the Forest Preserve District started work on the Brewster Creek Wetland Restoration Project in the north central part of the preserve. Since then, it's removed agricultural drain tiles, resaturating the soil and returning over 130 acres to viable wetland ecosystems. In 2005 work at the site unearthed the 12,000-year-old remains of a mastodon, giving it paleontological as well as ecological significance.

In 2004 Audubon named the forest preserve an Important Bird Area, and in 2012 the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission gave 256 acres of the preserve an extra level of protection by designating it as the Brewster Creek Marsh Nature Preserve. 

 

Driving Directions

The main entrance is west of Route 59 on the west side of Powis Road, north of Army Trail Road and south of Stearns Road. Harrier Lake is on the south side of Stearns Road 0.5 mile east of Powis Road.

Trails

Enjoy hiking, bicycling, cross-country skiing and horseback riding on more than 12 miles of forest preserve trails. A stretch of the Illinois Prairie Path Elgin Branch cuts through the preserve as well.

In accordance with the Illinois Natural Areas Preservation Act, dogs and bicycles are not allowed within the Brewster Creek Marsh Nature Preserve.

Horseback riders should park their trailers in the gravel lot on the east side of Powis Road and should not ride in developed recreational areas, such as picnic areas and campgrounds.

The Wayne-DuPage Hunt Club has been riding in the area for over 100 years and continues to host equestrian events at the forest preserve. As a result of these events and other horse trial groups, horse jumps are located throughout the preserve but are only for advanced riders. License agreements and special use permits allow the use of a portion of the nature preserve buffer area only for special equestrian events.

 

Picnicking

Pratt's Wayne Woods 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 100-person picnic shelter as well. Details are on our Picnicking page.

 

Fishing

Pratt’s Wayne Woods offers 58 acres of the finest fishing in the county at Pickerel Lake, Catfish Pond, Horsetail Pond, Beaver Slough and catch-and-release-only Harrier Lake. All five lakes contain largemouth bass, catfish and other popular species; Pickerel Lake contains rainbow trout as well.

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). Creel limits, minimum lengths and other regulations are on our Fishing page.

 

Youth-Group Camping

Pratt's Wayne Woods' youth-group campground has two sites that can each accommodate up to 25 campers.

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.

 

Model-Craft Area

If you enjoy flying model planes or drones, you can do so at the at the designated field on Stearns Road but must have a valid Forest Preserve District permit in your possession.

 

History

The area’s first private landowner was Mark Wentworth Fletcher, a local surveyor. Fletcher purchased 320 acres from the federal government on Feb. 18, 1846, and built a farmhouse along Dunham Road.

The land changed hands several times before coming under the ownership of Franz Palm. The Palm family had originally intended the land to be their retirement home, but the state of Illinois had other plans and purchased Fletcher’s original 320 acres with the intent of creating a state park. It abandoned the idea, though, and in 1965 donated 221 acres to the Forest Preserve District. George Pratt, a township supervisor and Forest Preserve District commissioner in the 1960s and 70s, became the driving force behind the acquisition of additional lands, selling his family’s adjacent 250-acre Maple Spring Farm in 1974 to the District rather than a developer.

Now at 3,478 acres, Pratt’s Wayne Woods is the largest forest preserve in the county. Combined with James Pate Philip State Park to the north, it forms a continuous 4,000-acre stretch of open space.

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!
Register
Reserve Facility
Purchase Permit