The preserve is open one hour after sunrise to one hour after sunset.
Things To Do
The 887-acre Herrick Lake is one of the Forest Preserve District’s most popular preserves.
Herrick Lake is home to an impressive variety of wildlife. Ecologists have recorded more than 254 types of year-round and migrating wildlife among the preserve’s 470 different types of plants.
In the mature upland woods, stately 150-year-old white, red, and bur oaks provide habitat for animals like woodpeckers, squirrels, and owls.
White-tailed deer and coyotes roam through adjacent fields of European grasses, where dickcissels, savanna sparrows, bobolinks, and eastern meadowlarks nest among the fescues. Slowly emerging within these fields are young planted forests of American elms with understories of smaller maples, oaks, lindens, and hickories. Viburnums, dogwoods, roses, and blackberries are common in this immature upland woods, which attracts black-crowned night herons, eastern wood peewees, and American woodcocks.
Along the forest preserve’s pothole marshes and streams, silver maple and buttonbush grow. Raccoons, woodchucks, northern orioles, wood thrushes, and various frogs and toads dwell in this area, which is seasonally covered with colorful swamp buttercup and wild iris. Herrick Marsh, which lies in the middle of the forest preserve, supports community of reeds, a draw for eastern tiger salamanders, northern leopard frogs, pied-billed grebes, blue-winged teals, red-winged blackbirds, minks, and muskrats.
After the retreat of the Wisconsin Glacier, the land that is now Herrick Lake Forest Preserve grew into prairies with scattered woodlands. For thousands of years, different groups of indigenous people passed through the area, some to hunt and move on, others to settle for various periods of time. The last of these groups to call this land home was the Potawatomi, who had settled in the area by the late 1600s. Their well-traveled trails served as the basis for Butterfield and Warrenville roads.
Around the time of the Treaty of Chicago in 1833, which moved the Potawatomi west of the Mississippi River, Ira Herrick moved near the small settlement of Wheaton and built his homestead in a densely wooded parcel that surrounded a small marshy lake. This marked the beginning of the land’s agricultural period, which lasted more than 100 years. Old fencerows, woodlot edges and fields of European grasses still stand in the preserve as remnants of this era.
In 1925, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County purchased 90 acres of the original Herrick homestead. From the mid-1950s through the 1970s, additional scattered acquisitions expanded the preserve.
Today, Herrick Lake is a substantial link in a 3,700-acre chain of open space that includes Danada, Warrenville Grove, St. James Farm and Blackwell forest preserves.