Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

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Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve is a forest preserve in southern DuPage County. It is known for its waterfall, which actually is a dam, which is in its ravine. It completely surrounds Argonne National Laboratory. It is also home to a popular model airplane field, located in the southwest section of the forest preserve.The 2,492-acre Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien is an ecological parcel of open space within the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. Waterfall Glen’s prairies, savannas, and oak-maple woodlands contain 740 native plant species, 75 percent of all the plants known to grow naturally in DuPage County. There is over 300 species of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles and another 300 of invertebrates use the forest preserve either year-round or during their migrations.

Sawmill Creek Waterfall, Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, Lemont, Illinois

Natural History[edit]

Waterfall Glen’s 773-acre Bluff Savanna, which roughly covers the southern part of the preserve between Argonne National Laboratory and the Des Plaines River. Waterfall Glen is one of highest ranked conservation areas in the county,it contains 422 native plant species, including one state threatened and 36 of special concern. Individual black and white oaks, shagbark and bitternut hickories, and black walnuts range from 180- to 215-years-old. With Waterfall Glen having older trees and being wooded birds like pileated woodpeckers, scarlet tanagers, ovenbirds, wood thrushes, broad-winged hawks, and barred owls, are attracted to the area and some species breed there. Ephemeral ponds make the savanna an essential habitat for salamanders and frogs.


Long before Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet paddled the American Indians were living along the surrounding limestone bluffs, including today’s Signal Hill, which served as a communications vantage point. By the late 1800s, though, the Ward Brothers’ mill was turning out lumber on Sawmill Creek, and Edwin Walker’s three quarries were yielding tons of quality limestone for projects like the landmark Chicago Avenue Water Tower and Pumping Station. In 1925, the Forest Preserve District purchased its first 75 acres at Waterfall Glen, the Signal Hill and Rocky Glen areas. Rocky Glen soon became the site of the forest preserve’s well-known tiered falls, which the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed in the 1930s. In 1973, the forest preserve added over 2,200 acres of surplus land from the U.S. Bureau of Outdoor Recreation.


The main trail is 9.5 miles long, 8 feet wide and made of crushed limestone. Hikers, bicyclists, horseback riders and cross-country skiers can enjoy some of Waterfall Glen’s scenic areas via four mapped trails, which contain almost 11 miles of limestone- and turf-covered routes. Visitors on foot can explore the narrow, unmarked footpaths that crisscross through Waterfall Glen but should remember that these paths are not marked and may not meet with the marked paths.

See also[edit]

Forest Preserve District of DuPage County


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°43′N 87°59′W / 41.71°N 87.98°W / 41.71; -87.98