Outdoor Activities

Fall - Paved Trail
FPCC - Fall Colors
Region 3_River Trail Fall Festival_48

Forest Preserves of Cook County

Autumn Colors, Halloween Happenings in the
Forest Preserves of Cook County

Hike through vibrantly colored forest preserves, attend fun Halloween events

Throughout the Forest Preserves of Cook County, mid to late October is prime time for residents and visitors to experience the stunning seasonal transition of summer to fall as leaves change colors to vibrant autumn hues.

The best leaf color is seen when the autumn has sunny days and cool nights. Residents and visitors can experience this annual burst of warm colors by exploring more than 300 miles of trails, visiting Nature Centers and more.

What may surprise many visitors interested in this annual nature art show is that most of the yellow and orange leaf color has actually been in the leaves all summer, says Assistant Director of Trailside Museum of Natural History Irene Flebbe.

“During spring and summer, the beautiful fall colors were ‘covered up’ by the dominant green color of chlorophyll - the naturally occurring chemical that is responsible for helping trees and other plants turn sunlight into food,” explains Flebbe. “In autumn, the amount of chlorophyll produced by the plant decreases and eventually stops as the amount of daylight decreases. The chlorophyll is slowly broken down, revealing the colors we love to see this time of year.”

Residents and visitors can plan a fall hike by visiting the Forest Preserves’ interactive web map at map.fpdcc.com, stopping by a Nature Center, or checking out the guided hikes below:

Guided Fall Color Hikes

Autumn Walks
Saturday, Oct. 28 • 1 pm
Trailside Museum of Natural History, 738 Thatcher Ave, River Forest

Fall Color Walk
Saturday, Oct. 28 • 1:30 pm
Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 S Paxton Ave, South Holland
In addition to viewing the array of fall colors, residents and visitors can also celebrate Halloween throughout the Forest Preserves. Check out these great events. All below events are family-friendly; some cost a small fee.

Halloween Happenings

Halloween Hike and Happenings
Saturday, Oct 28 • 5 – 9 pm
Camp Sullivan, 14630 Oak Park Ave, Oak Forest

A Sand Ridge Halloween
Sunday, Oct. 29 • 1:30 pm
Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 S Paxton Ave, South Holland

NEW!!! Click to View the 2017 Fall FPDCC Schedule!!!


Did you know some birds sing notes too high for humans to hear? Or that ospreys almost always carry fish parallel to their bodies to improve aerodynamics? Have you ever seen a heron eat a fish whole, or a crow using homemade tools catch their prey? The native and migrating birds that can be spotted in the Forest Preserves of Cook County are as unique and diverse as the Forest Preserves themselves!

New and experienced birders can enjoy this fun and versatile year-round activity while experiencing the many amenities offered throughout the Forest Preserves, including miles of marked trails, major waterways that can be canoed or kayaked, dedicated nature preserves, nature centers and more.

Bird the Preserves

Keep Track!!--Download the Birding Checklist Here

Forest Banner

"The Forest Preserve District of Cook County, with more than 69,000-acres, is the largest forest preserve district in the United States. It receives an estimated 40 million visits each year, providing an escape into a world teeming with wildlife and rich with outdoor recreation and environmental education opportunities. Within its boundaries are rare habitats that offer plant and animal diversity on par with the rainforests of the world. This natural heritage offers something for everyone:

Oak woodlands and savannas

Tallgrass prairies

Native wetlands

Migratory fly-ways that afford spectacular birding

22 dedicated nature preserves

40 managed lakes and ponds

7 major waterways that can be canoed or kayaked and offer glimpses of waterflow and shorebirds

300 miles of marked trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and cross country skiing

Scenic spots for painting, photography or quiet reflection"

For more information on the Forest Preserves of Cook County, visit http://fpdcc.com/