More than three-quarters of Greene Valley’s 13.8 miles of marked trails are open to hikers, bicyclers, horseback riders and cross-country skiers.
Horseback riders should park their trailers on the west side of Greene Road south of 79th Street and do not ride on the Hawk or Caruso trails or in or around developed recreational areas, such as picnic areas, the youth-group campground and the scenic overlook.
The 190-foot-tall scenic overlook offers a bird’s-eye view of DuPage County and the Chicago skyline and is a great place to picnic, look for migrating birds or participate in District programs. A road leads from the base of the hill to a parking lot at the top. In addition to great views, this retired landfill provides energy for thousands of area homes from the methane gas it produces.
The scenic overlook is open May 7 – Oct. 30 in 2022. The overlook is normally open to the public on Saturday and Sunday May through October from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m., weather permitting. However, due to Illinois Environmental Protection Agency maintenance and construction activities, the overlook may be closed during these times without advanced notice.
Greene Valley 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 east or west picnic shelters, too. Details are on our Picnicking page.
Greene Valley's youth-group campground has 10 sites. Eight can accommodate up to 25 campers; the other two accommodate 50 and 100.
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.
Off-Leash Dog Area
Enjoy off-leash fun with your four-legged friends at Greene Valley's 16-acre fully fenced off-leash dog area, which has separate areas for small and large dogs, but you need to carry proof of a valid Forest Preserve District permit for each dog you bring. The area is open during regular preserve hours; it is closed Wednesdays until 10 a.m. for routine maintenance. Visit Dogs in the Preserves for rules and permit info.
Fly nonpowered model gliders and sailplanes at the designated area on the scenic overlook, when open. Operators must have a valid Forest Preserve District permit in their possession.
Oak Cottage & Greene Farm Barn
The historical Oak Cottage and Greene Farm Barn at the north end of the preserve are remnants of the land's previous owners. William Briggs Greene built the central portion of the Oak Cottage in 1850. It grew wing by wing through the years, sheltering six generations. Simple lines define the exterior. The fireplace and mantel are slightly carved Vermont marble. At one time 16 people lived under its roof.
Buildings were added as the farm grew and prospered. The 14,000-square-foot Greene Farm Barn began rising in the 1870s. It was built from locally quarried limestone, and hand-hewn timbers sheltered animals, hay, grain and tools.
William Bertram Greene, grandson of William Briggs Greene encouraged the preservation of Oak Cottage, the barn and 10-acre homestead for future generations by placing its sale proceeds of $70,000 in The Greene Family Forest Preserve Endowment Fund with the Aurora Foundation, now the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley.
In 1835, William Briggs Greene acquired 200 acres of present-day Greene Valley Forest Preserve from Daniel Greene, his uncle. When surveyors mapped the land in 1840, they reported how they "left Brill's wheat field and entered hazel and red oak brush and scattering timber." This and other descriptions of stunted oak trees mixed with thorn thickets and wooded ravines offer an idea of how the area once looked.
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County first purchased land at the site in 1926. An acquisition in 1969 — the same year that the District officially named the property — added the historic Oak Cottage, the 1841 farmhouse that William Greene had built. By the mid-1970s, the District had completed its acquisitions at Greene Valley Forest Preserve.