The 797-acre Danada Forest Preserve in Wheaton features prairies, woods and wetlands as well as the Danada Equestrian Center, the Danada House, the Danada Model Farm, Parson's Grove and the Forest Preserve District’s headquarters. Its scenic rolling terrain offers trails, fishing and picnicking areas.
A large wetland complex on the west side of Naperville Road supports egrets, woodcocks, painted turtles, chorus and leopard frogs, and a rookery of nesting great blue herons.
A 35-acre restored prairie on the north side of the preserve fills each summer with asters, goldenrods, prairie dock, big bluestem and western sunflower, which attract bobolinks, grasshopper sparrows and American goldfinches as well as ground squirrels, voles, weasels, deer and coyotes.
Parson's Grove, the open woodland in the southeast corner of the preserve, fills each spring with wild geraniums, trout lilies, shooting stars, bloodroot, toothwort and trillium and other native wildflowers.
The main entrance is on Naperville Road, 1 mile south of Butterfield Road and 0.75 mile north of Interstate 88. The headquarters office is on the west side of Naperville Road at 3S580 Naperville Road, and the Danada Equestrian Center is on the east side at 3S507 Naperville Road.
Nearly 3 miles of the nationally designated Danada-Herrick Regional Trail (PDF) wind through prairie, woodland and marsh habitats, providing scenic excursions for hikers, bicyclists, equestrians and cross-country skiers. To avoid less-visible trail users, horseback riders should restrain their mounts through woods or the Naperville Road underpass or around sharp corners.
The double-looped Nature Trail, a footpath behind the main barn at the Danada Equestrian Center, takes hikers through Parson's Grove.
There are picnic tables near the main barn, fire circle and parking lot at the Danada Equestrian Center.
Fish for largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish and crappie along the shores of Rice Lake. Park in the main lot of the Danada Equestrian Center on the east side of Naperville Road and take the Danada-Herrick Lake Regional Trail (PDF) to the lake.
Anglers 16 or older who are not legally disabled must carry valid Illinois fishing licenses. Lake maps and regulations, including creel limits and minium lengths, are on our Fishing page.
Danada Equestrian Center
The Danada Equestrian Center promotes safe, humane horse-handling practices and care by advancing the relationship between humans and their equine companions. The center offers educational and recreational experiences including lessons, group tours and summer and winter and spring break camps. For information on programs and events, visit dupageforest.org/camps or call the Danada Equestrian Center at 630-668-6012.
The 19-room Danada House, the former residence of Daniel and Ada Rice, is available for formal receptions, corporate events, educational seminars, meetings, parties and other functions. The dining room, library, living room and two porches accommodate up to 70 people. The atrium comfortably seats up to 250 guests and features large windows that connect visitors to the surrounding landscape. Danada House is owned by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County and is operated by the Friends of Danada, a nonprofit organization. For more information, visit danadahouse.com or call 630-668-5392.
Danada has a rich history as the former home of Daniel and Ada Rice, and Kentucky Derby winner Lucky Debonair. The equestrian center and most of the surrounding Danada Forest Preserve were part of the Dan and Ada L. Rice estate. The Rices purchased the land in 1928, when it was a working farm with apple orchards, wheat and corn fields, and grazing lots for livestock. In 1943 Dan bought eight Thoroughbreds for his wife’s pursuit of horse racing, and the Ada L. Rice Stable was born, a legacy that would last for 32 years.
The farm produced many champions and served as a training facility. The Rices patterned their 26-stall barn after the white dormered-window stables in Lexington, Kentucky. The design, which features center stalls surrounded by an inside aisle, allowed trainers to exercise their Thoroughbreds even in bad weather. The 0.5-mile regulation racetrack west of the barn conditioned yearlings that arrived from a sister farm in Kentucky.