Forest Faves: Waterfall Glen

As one of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County’s largest preserves, Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien offers many spots worth checking out. Naturalist Keriann Dubina has been exploring Waterfall Glen since she was a child and has many fond memories of her favorite spots at Waterfall Glen. 

Keriann Dubina BOTTOM 

The 2,492-acre forest preserve is one of the most ecologically impressive parcels of open space in the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, if not northern Illinois.

Dubina’s favorite spot is the Rocky Glen Scenic Overview, which features a picturesque view of Sawmill Creek. Dubina enjoys taking walks along the trail and bird watching. The Rocky Glen and Signal Hill areas are part of the first 75 acres the District purchased at Waterfall Glen in 1925. Rocky Glen is well known for its popular tiered waterfalls, which the Civilian Conservation Corps built in the 1930s. 

Sawmill overlook 505x198 
Dubina’s No. 1 tip when visiting this spot is to just stop and take it all in. The Rocky Glen Scenic Overview overlooks a one-of-a-kind view of Sawmill Creek that is beautiful any time of the year. Waterfall Glen supports 740 native plant species — 75 percent of all the species known to grow naturally in DuPage County — as well as 300 kinds of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles, and 400 invertebrates.

Waterfall Glen includes an 11-mile loop of limestone and turf trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding or cross-country skiing that has been described as “fierce enough to make you sweat but not so vast that you’ll need a tent.” The trail takes visitors to some other popular spots at Waterfall Glen, including the Bluff Savanna, featuring pileated woodpeckers, scarlet tanagers, barred owls and broad-winged hawks, and Poverty Prairie, a 120-acre wide-open space with 339 plant species, including meadowlarks, gray catbirds, western harvest mice, and poverty oat grass. 

Horse and people on trail BOTTOM 

There are also opportunities to fish in the still waters of old quarries scattered throughout the preserve or where Sawmill Creek flows into the Des Plaines River. 

Waterfall Glen also offers an orienteering course where visitors can learn how to navigate through the outdoors with a map and a compass. A permanently marked course is in northeast Waterfall Glen near the trailhead. Visitors may reserve supplies for the course by calling Visitor Services at 630-933-7248 but must do so at least three business days in advance. The preserve also features a model airplane field and two youth-group campgrounds. 

Geocaching BOTTOM
This spot is also a great place to do some birdwatching. The best time of day to look out for the birds are in the morning. The most common birds to be found in Waterfall Glen include pileated woodpeckers, scarlet tanagers, ovenbirds, wood thrushes, broad-winged hawks and barred owls. 

Dubina reveals a couple of Waterfall Glen’s best-kept secrets are the large number of old oak trees and the huge millipedes that can be found on the trails that are not common to the area. 

Waterfall Glen fall BOTTOM 

An interesting but little-known fact about the preserve is that it was named Waterfall Glen after Seymour “Bud” Waterfall, an early president of the District’s Board of Commissioners, not the popular waterfall at the preserve.

Winter Biking in the Preserves
Published 12/27/2016
Forest Faves: Waterfall Glen
Published 12/20/2016
Forest Faves: St. James Farm
Published 11/30/2016
Forest Faves: Warrenville Grove
Published 11/17/2016
Partnering to Save Raptors
Published 11/3/2016
Prescription Burns
Published 10/20/2016
Forest Faves: McDowell Grove
Published 10/12/2016
Wolf Spider: Friend or Foe?
Published 9/27/2016
Asters: The Stars of Fall
Published 9/15/2016
Forest Faves: Herrick Lake
Published 8/31/2016
Forest Faves: Oldfield Oaks
Published 8/26/2016
Forest Faves: Meacham Grove
Published 8/16/2016
Forest Faves: Elsen's Hill
Published 7/22/2016
Pokémon Invades the Preserves
Published 7/21/2016
A Beaver Balance
Published 5/13/2016
Beyond the Bird Feeder
Published 4/28/2016
Fiddleheads and Fronds
Published 4/22/2016
Aging Trees Made Easier
Published 4/15/2016
Signs and Sounds of Spring
Published 4/15/2016
Down by the Old Mill Stream
Published 4/1/2016
Forest Jewels
Published 3/31/2016
If You Care, Leave Them There
Published 3/23/2016
Early Spring Plant Arrivals
Published 3/1/2016
Caution: Turtle Crossing
Published 2/24/2016
Know Your Invasive Species
Published 2/22/2016
Coyotes are Loyal to Love
Published 2/17/2016
More Trees, Please
Published 1/29/2016
Sowing Seeds in the Snow
Published 1/27/2016
Dunham Developments Detailed
Published 1/22/2016
2016 Stories
Published 1/1/0001
Get Adobe Reader
©2016 Forest Preserve District of DuPage County