Getting out into the great outdoors can be a fun family bonding experience and be a relaxing and awe-inspiring way to get exercise. That’s especially true when it comes to hiking in the Glenview, Illinois, area. Here, you’ll find many parks and preserves that have winding trails, beautiful landscapes, and a few challenges for those who want them. So, Crème de la Crème of Glenview has put together this list of awesome places to hike in and around our hometown to help you find your new favorite spot.

Gallery Park

A family enjoys a nice day at the best places to hike in Glenview, Illinois

Hiking” licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr by Marcus Hansson

Gallery Park is right in the heart of Glenview, so it’s super close to home and a perfect spot for when you want to explore the outdoors but not have to travel very far. The trails at Gallery Park total 1.8 miles, are paved and level, and follow a few different perimeter routes. The largest route follows the perimeter of the park itself, sticking closely to the streets that enclose the park. You get to see a little bit of everything this park offers on your journey, including both ball fields, the Little Bear Garden, and the meadow area.

Or, stick close to the water for amazing views. The Lake Loop Trail is 1.5 miles and follows the perimeter of the entire lake, behind the amphitheater and middle school, and next to the South Play Fields. The Lakeside Interpretive Trail takes you on a 1.5-mile trek around the largest portions of the lake, right along its edge. It also takes you around to the Lookout Tower, which is located on the northeastern peninsula. These trails take approximately 45 minutes to 90 minutes, depending on how fast you go.

You can find Gallery Park at 2001 Patriot Blvd., right behind Attea Middle School on Chestnut Avenue in Glenview. It’s open from dawn to dusk, which can vary from season to season.

Harms Woods

Harms Woods is a local forest preserve that offers both paved and unpaved trails, catering to all sorts of hikers. Some trails are also good for leisurely strolls and bike rides. The Chicago River bisects this area, separating it into unique hiking destinations. West of the river, you’ll find unpaved nature trails that are perfect for wildlife watching. 

Or, you can head east of the river to the paved trails that join up with the much larger North Branch Trail System. This system covers nearly 18 miles across more than a dozen parks in Glencoe, Northbrook, Northfield, Glenview, Morton Grove, Skokie, Niles, and more towns further south. So you can choose to stick to the awesome trails within this park’s borders or head east of the river and venture out onto this local trail system for a longer, more diverse hike.

One of the best hikes on the system is from Linne Woods in nearby Morton Grove to Harms Woods in Glenview. It’s a 5.4-mile out-and-back trail that offers fantastic forest hiking and nature walks. It’s also an easy trail that you can take your kids on, and it takes approximately two hours to complete if you keep a steady pace.

River Trail Nature Center

The River Trail Nature Center area is a bustling hiking destination in the Glenview area. The approximately 1.8 miles of trails take you through the grounds and allow you to spot different birds, mammals, and bugs. And you get the sights and sounds of the Des Plaines River. The trails are unpaved, so it’s not a good area for strollers. But as long as everyone watches where they’re going, it’s an incredibly kid-friendly trail. Plus, this trail joins up with the Des Plaines Trial System that follows along the river throughout Glenview, Melrose Park, Mount Prospect, Northbrook, and more.

In addition to the outdoor hiking, you should also stop by the nature center itself to check out the free exhibits that showcase the local wildlife and natural history of the area. You can even speak to one of the nature educators who work there about the plants, animals, and landscapes you saw on your hike. In addition, this place hosts interesting workshops, like making maple syrup, animal meet-and-greets, and guided hikes for all ages.

However, there are a few things to consider if you’re planning a trip here. Dogs are not allowed on the property, so unfortunately Fido has to stay home for this hike. Also, some areas can get slick after a good rain, so make sure that everyone is wearing proper footwear with good traction.

The River Trail Nature Center is located at 3120 Milwaukee Ave. in nearby Northbrook. The facility is open every day (except Fridays) at 9 a.m., and it closes at 5 p.m. from March to October and at 4 p.m. from November to February. The hiking area may be closed at these times or at dusk.

Shoe Factory Road Prairie Nature Preserve

Part of the Arthur L. Janura Preserve, this nature area has some amazing trails that take you through the expansive property, past Bode Lake, Poplar Creek, and other small waterways. Plus, you get to explore beautiful towering forests, called the Carl R. Hansen Woods, which are home to many interesting animals and plants. You can bring your dog along for the adventure, too.

There are a few major trails, known as the Poplar Creek Trails, that you can trek. The Yellow Trail is just over 4 miles long and is relatively easy, making it a great spot to take the kids. This trail takes about an hour and 45 minutes to complete. Another great trail to explore is the Red Paved Trail. It’s longer at approximately 8.8 miles. This trip takes nearly four hours, so be prepared for a day spent hiking. Be sure to bring lots of water and snacks for the group.

Need something in between? Choose the Brown Trail. It’s an unpaved loop, making it a little more rugged. But, it’s only 4.7 miles long and takes about two hours to complete. This hiking area is open from sunrise to sunset, meaning hours can vary by season.

So there you have it, four of the best local areas for hiking in and around Glenview. Did we miss any of your family’s favorite local hiking destinations? If so, be sure to let us know. We’ll be happy to add it to our list!