Just 30 minutes outside of Chicago, Illinois, Westmont is a charming town with lots of family-friendly attractions and activities. When the weather is nice, get outside with the family and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. No matter the ages of your kids, there’s a trail nearby that’s perfect for everyone in the family. If you’re looking to get out for a solitary hike or for some one-on-one time with someone special, there are also several great trails for those options. Here are some of the best hikes near Westmont, Illinois.
Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve
Image via Flickr by jelloneck
The trail at the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve is a 9-mile loop with minimal elevation gain. The trail circles around the preserve and crosses rivers, streams, and even a waterfall, and the path is crushed gravel and well-kept. This makes it a great trail for kids and parents carrying little ones on their backs. Dogs are also welcome on leashes, so you really can bring the whole family. Throughout the year, you can enjoy beautiful wildflowers in bloom, go cross-country skiing, or enjoy horseback riding. And be aware during your hike since mountain bikers do frequent parts of the trail.
Hidden Lake Forest Preserve
When you need a scenic hike, head to this 390-acre forest preserve in Downers Grove and explore the more than 2 miles of trails winding through the preserve. Both main trails are crushed limestone, so they’re easy for all ages and skill levels and great for strollers and small children. One trail circles around Eagle Lake, and the other surrounds Round Meadow Lake. There’s also a very short 0.2-mile trail right at the entrance of the preserve.
Hidden Lake Forest also has fishing, picnicking, and paddling. After a hike during warm weather, get out on the lake in small boats or kayaks to get the most of the preserve’s offerings.
Willow Springs Woods
In Willow Spring Woods, there are a bunch of trails for all different skill levels and activities. They all welcome hikers, but some are also great for mountain biking and running.
If you follow the Palos Trail System, you can stay on trails that work for your skill level whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker. The Hickory Smoked Trail runs along Maple Lake and is fairly short with minimal elevation, great for young kids and novice hikers. If you want more of a challenge, follow the 9.2-mile Yellow East Trail. This section is full of creek crossings and winds through nature preserves and along lakes and ponds. Another fun challenge starts at Wolf Road Woods and loops out for 5.5 miles and then ends in the same spot. This trail is hilly and features different types of terrain.
Greene Valley Forest Preserve
Greene Valley Forest Preserve is a huge area covering 1,388 acres and offers a 190-foot scenic overlook of the natural area and the Chicago skyline. With more than 12 miles of trails throughout the preserve, this is a great hiking spot for all types of hikers. There’s a 1-mile self-guided tree trail that encourages hikers to learn about the various species of trees found along the hike.
If you want a break, stop by the picnic areas along the trails for a snack. Furry friends are welcome, and there’s a 16-acre fenced-in area that welcomes dogs to run around off-leash.
Find miles of paved and unpaved trails as well as a high-flying Go Ape ropes course within Bemis Woods. This is a great spot to visit for adventures and fun hiking. Plus, most of the trails within this system welcome dogs on leashes and work well for hiking, cycling, and cross-country skiing.
Part of the Salt Creek Trail System, a 16.4-mile trail runs through Bemis Woods and along the Des Plaines River. The Orange Unpaved Loop Trail is just 1.63 miles and loops around the central part of Bemis Woods. The Yellow Unpaved Loop runs from one part of the Red Paved Loop to another for 1.5 miles. If you want a fun challenge, try tackling the entire Red Paved trail, which runs from Brookfield Woods to Canterbury for more than 7 miles. This trail crosses a few streams along the way for some truly beautiful scenery.
Portage Woods is a national historic site. Visit this area for a relaxing hike and to learn a bit of history about the area. The Salt Creek Greenway Black Unpaved Loop starts at the historic site and loops around the pond south of the site for 2.3 miles. This is an easy loop that features a bridge and allows dogs on leashes.
Go north from the historic site to follow the Salt Creek Greenway Black Paved Loop. Head across the Des Plaines River through Cermak Woods for a 3.7-mile hike when you go out and back. This trail is great for all skill levels but is also stroller-friendly and wheelchair-accessible.
Illinois Prairie Path
Spanning 61 miles through three counties of Illinois, the Prairie Path has been a local favorite for hiking, biking, running, and more since its conversion from a railroad to a trail in the 1960s. Formerly the Aurora & Elgin Railway, this path is crushed limestone and winds through beautiful natural areas of the state. Get on the trail over in Wheaton at Prairie Path Park. The trail heads in various directions from the park with several forks along the way, so keep an eye on your location to make sure you don’t get turned around.
There you have it, the best local hikes according to Crème de la Crème Westmont. Try out a few or make time to visit each spot to see which is your favorite. Did you go with your family, alone, or with a friend? What did you think? Drop us a line and let us know how your hike went and if we missed any must-hike spots in the area — we’ll be happy to add them to the list.